What is Windows 10 LTSC or Long-Term Servicing Channel?

When it comes to Windows Update, Microsoft wants consumers to keep their computers updated. However, this strategy doesn’t work for Business, and especially those devices which only depend on functionality and features that don’t change over time. That’s where Windows 10 LTSC or Long-Term Servicing Channel comes into the picture. In this guide, we will also talk about the features in LTSC and LTSC 2019 features.

Windows 10 LTSC or Long-Term Servicing Channel

We will discuss the following areas:

  1. What is Windows 10 LTSC
  2. How often does Windows 10 LTCS release
  3. LTSC Advantages and Drawback
  4. LTSC 2019 Features.

Open your Windows 10 Settings > Update and Security > Advanced section. Here you will find an option which lets you chose when updates are installed.  There is a drop down available where you can choose between Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) or Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) Targeted. This update channel delivers two feature updates per year. They improve user experience, security, stability and also roll out new features.

Microsoft offers another channel–Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). They are not available on consumer devices but is for those devices where the critical requirement is that functionality and features that don’t change over time. Classic examples are medical devices like MRI, CAT scans, air traffic control devices and so on.

If this reminds you of embedded systems, you are right. They are similar to this and only upgrade when the whole system is tested, and certified. They get an upgrade separately, and then they replace the existing machines. You can imagine how crucial it is to know that everything works without any issue on these systems.

How often is Windows 10 LTCS released

LTCS release is for ten years, and Microsoft promises that those features will not change throughout that 10-year life cycle. As an example, Internet Explorer was included in Windows 10 LTSC as its function is not changing. However, they do get security fixes for the life of its release. That is why Microsoft Edge is not a part of LTSC, as it will keep getting an update through the Windows 10 store.

Microsoft creates a new LTSC release approx every three years. Each version contains all new capabilities and support since the previous release. Old feature stays as well. LTSC naming convention is according to the year of release, i.e., Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2016 or Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019 (That’s how Office Update cycle works)

Do note that while an update is released every three years, one can choose to not update to latest LTSC right away. They can keep getting security fixes for a long time.

LTSC Advantages and Drawback

This system has its advantages and disadvantages.

Business Cost: Many a time Enterprise do not want to update or cannot update their applications. In that case, an update is not needed for a very long term. That’s the most significant advantage for any business as they save time and money for upgrading. However, in this time of the world, rules changes, and many Enterprises want to keep update often, but not every year. That gives them more time. They can prepare their employees, train about the replacement apps, and so on.

Hardware Support: Make sure you have enough supply of hardware as it will only support the currently released processors and chipsets at the time of rethe lease of the LTSC. You will also need support for driver or firmware for that long. Imaging it as a system where a fixed set of hardware is supported, you cannot add or remove anything.

Application Support: If you are using any third party application, make sure they are ready to support you for long, just like drivers.

Windows 10 Feature updates always offer more stability, security, and more hardware choices. If you ever wish to change your channel from LTSC to Semi-Annual, you will have to perform an upgrade.

LTSC 2019 Features

Just before we start, Features in Windows 10 Enterprise 2019 LTSC are equivalent to Windows 10, version 1809. I am guessing it a good time; you can plan to upgrade to 2019, keeping in mind the number of features that have been introduced. Let’s take a look at the list:

You can read more about it here on microsoft.com.

Conclusion

It is clear that LTSC is designed for the system which is built to do one job or routine that won’t change for a very long time. Your washing machine doesn’t need an update for almost its entire life cycle. However as the trends are changing, Washing Machines are getting smart, and they will get updates, and this is where things change. LTSC can offer service, support, and security for 10-long years.

It includes a minimum of five years Mainstream Support (during which both security and non-security updates are provided) and a minimum of five years Extended Support (during which only security updates are provided).

While many can argue Semi-Annual channel to be much better, but when it comes to business, nobody wants a failure like what happened with Windows 10 1809 update. That’s the primary reason why so many enterprises took a long time to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 to Windows 10.

If you plan to choose LTSC, make sure to go back and forth keeping the current trend in mind. Do check out this video from Microsoft on LTSC Enterirpsie advantages and drawbacks.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.