21st February 2024

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Technology and Computer

Microsoft to offer consumers paid Windows 10 security updates for the first time

Microsoft will allow consumers to pay for Extended Security Updates (ESU) for Windows 10 when support ends for the operating system in 2025. The software giant usually only offers paid security updates for organizations that need to keep running older versions but now plans to offer them to individuals for the first time through an annual subscription service instead of extending the end of support date for Windows 10.

“While we strongly recommend moving to Windows 11, we understand there are circumstances that could prevent you from replacing Windows 10 devices before the end of support date. Therefore, Microsoft will offer Extended Security Updates,” explains Microsoft in a blog post. “The ESU program for Windows 10 will include critical and/or important security updates. ESUs do not include new features, customer-requested non-security updates, or design change requests. Technical support beyond the ESU itself is also not available.”

Windows 10’s end of support date is October 14th, 2025, just over 10 years after Microsoft first launched the OS. Many had expected Microsoft to extend Windows 10 support, particularly because it’s still widely used and there was such a big gap (nearly six years) between Windows 10 and Windows 11. So it’s a surprise that Microsoft is offering regular users the same ESU program available to businesses for three years of additional security patches.

“If you are an individual consumer or an organization who elects to continue using Windows 10 after support ends on October 14, 2025, you will have the option of enrolling your PC in the paid Extended Security Updates (ESU) program,” explains Microsoft on a FAQ page. Microsoft isn’t detailing pricing for its extended Windows 10 security patches just yet. “More details including pricing will be provided at a later date,” says Microsoft.

Microsoft is adding a new AI-powered Copilot to Windows 10.
Image: Microsoft

It’s a surprise move on the consumer side that comes just weeks after Microsoft revealed it was “revisiting” its approach to Windows 10. Microsoft is adding its AI-powered Copilot to Windows 10 and making “additional investments” that could include additional AI features in the future. Microsoft isn’t planning any major updates to Windows 10, though.

Windows 10 is still an incredibly popular operating system, particularly because there are less than two years of support left until you’ll need to switch to Windows 11 (or whatever comes next) or pay for security updates. Windows 7 support ended in 2020, a little over 10 years after its launch, and extended security updates ended earlier this year. Mainstream support for Windows XP ended after just eight years, with extended support ending after nearly 13 years.

Microsoft may be forced to offer free Windows 10 security updates beyond the end of support date anyway. Windows XP received a highly unusual patch in 2017, three years after extended support ended, to prevent a large ransomware attack. If Windows 10 falls victim to something similar in the future, we could see a similar step repeated.

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