Microsoft is Making Changes to the L in Windows/Office LTSC
If you are riding on the Windows 10 and Office LTSC branches, your train is about to reach the station about 50% faster. Along with announcing that Office 2021 will be available later this year, the company is also cutting the support time in half.
Starting with the LTSC release that will arrive in the second half of 2021 for both Office and Windows, the LTSC branch will only be supported for five years, instead of 10. This means that you will need to update those devices twice as often but going from 10 years to 5 doesn’t mean that you will need to do this all that frequently.
Microsoft, sometimes more bluntly than others, really does not want you running the LTSC version of either product unless absolutely necessary. The OS and productivity tools are designed for devices that are rarely used or are part of a critical operational workflow, such as manufacturing or hospital equipment.
If you are running Windows 10 LTSC or Office LTSC as a desktop workstation for your organization, you are officially on Microsoft’s, ahem, “naughty list”. Organizations may do this to avoid frequent updates to the software that are impacting user productivity.
Say Goodbye to Traditional PC Lifecycle Management
Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
With Microsoft moving to a five-year support cycle for these new versions of Windows and Office LTSC, in an organization that is following the company’s guidance, not too much should change. But for those who are using LTSC as a way to avoid properly administering updates and security, you should seriously consider changing your practice.
I am fully aware that managing updates, especially in an IT constrained organization, is easier written than practiced. But the writing is on the blog, LTSC is moving to slightly more frequent updates and I suspect the trend of LTSC being less desirable for anything other than mission-critical hardware will continue in the years ahead.