Revealed: The Cost of Staying Secure on Windows 10


This Week in IT, I look at the recently announced pricing for ESUs on Windows 10 if you want to stay secure beyond the end of support date in October 2025. Plus, the different ways you can get the updates and what it means for your organization.

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This Week in IT, I look at the recently announced pricing for extended security updates on Windows 10 for after it reaches end of support in October 2025. Plus, I look at the different ways that you can get the updates and what it means for your organization. Stay tuned to find out more. [MUSIC]

Welcome to This Week in IT, the show where I talk about everything connected to Microsoft 365, Windows and Azure. But before we get started today, I’ve got a quick favor to ask you. About 76% of the people who watched last week’s video weren’t subscribed to the channel. Now, as we go live today, we’re on about 3,890 subscribers, and I’d really love it if we could push that up to about 3,950 this week. So if you’d like to help us meet our goal, then please subscribe to the channel and don’t forget to hit the bell notification to make sure that you don’t miss out on the latest uploads. So we’ve known for some time that Windows 10 is going to be reaching end of support in October 2025.

And just like any other release of Windows, Microsoft is preparing to continue providing security updates. So it calls them ESUs or Extended Security Updates after that end of support date, but you’re going to have to pay for them if you want to do that. Of course, Microsoft would prefer that organizations just upgraded to Windows 11. But nevertheless, we all know that some organizations are just not going to be ready for that to happen. Or there are other reasons why they’re not able to do that.

So there is always the option to pay for security updates should you wish to receive them. Now, one of the reasons that organizations haven’t maybe been able to upgrade to Windows 11 is because of these strict minimum hardware requirements for that operating system. Now, if you remember back to when Windows 11 was first released, there was a huge fuss about this that some people were claiming Microsoft was putting in their arbitrary minimum hardware requirements just to try and force people to upgrade their hardware so that they could get onto Windows 11. Of course, I’m not going to say and get involved in the argument right now about whether that was the case or not, whether these minimum hardware requirements are truly required for Windows 11. But nevertheless, it is what it is.(…) And it does mean that there are many machines out there that are simply not able to upgrade to Windows 11 because they don’t meet those hardware requirements.

Now, it’s been interesting to see how the market share of Windows 11 and Windows 10 has played out over the last couple of years since the release of Windows 11. Really interesting that in March this year,(…) the market share for Windows 10 increased to 69% and the market share for Windows 11 actually declined to 29%. So that doesn’t bode well for Windows 11 adoption. So when Windows 10 reaches end of support in October 2025, the extended security updates are exactly that. The key is really in the name. This is about security. So Microsoft won’t be adding any new features or fixing usability bugs in Windows 10, but it will be providing security updates so that you can keep your operating system secure should you wish to continue using it. But it comes at a real cost. And it is an option for those that really don’t want to upgrade their hardware. Microsoft has even announced that there are going to be extended security updates for consumers and I believe that’s the first time that that’s happened.

But today we’re talking about commercial customers. So it’s really interesting how Microsoft has structured the pricing for these extended security updates. And the first year for an ESU on Windows 10 is going to cost you $61. Then that increases to $122 for the second year and in the third year $244. Now I don’t think that it’s very likely Microsoft is going to extend it beyond three years this program. Of course if you’re a really big organization and customer for Microsoft, it might be that you can reach a private agreement with them to continue providing security updates. But I don’t think it’s going to be a widely available program beyond these three years. Microsoft is stressing that this is always intended to be a temporary solution.

At the end of the day you are going to have to upgrade to Windows 11 or simply abandon using Windows. Now if for whatever reason you decided to jump into this extended security update program in year three, but Microsoft is saying it’s not going to cost you just that $244 for the third year, you’re going to have to pay for the previous two years as well. So don’t think you can get away with you know kind of just jumping in later down the line and of course that wouldn’t be an advisable thing to do anyway from a security perspective. So if you decide to go with this extended security update program, how do you actually get the updates?(…)

Well for some people it’s going to be a paid program and for others it’s going to be free. So it really depends how you decide to get the updates and what products you are paying for. Now these prices that Microsoft has recently announced apply to those who have Windows 10 installed on a physical or virtual machine somewhere and they want to use the traditional key activation method if you like. So you purchase a key that gives you the right to essentially receive these updates for one year and then you can apply the updates just like you would in any normal operating situation. So that might be with Windows Server update services,(…) through Microsoft update or through Configuration Manager.

And you can apply these keys either using scripting or using any kind of volume activation method that you might already have in place. If you want free and everybody likes free, then if you have a subscription to a Windows 365 cloud PC that’s run in Windows 10, Microsoft is not going to just kind of throw you under the bus here. You’re going to get those extended security updates for Windows 10 for free for three years. Of course you’re already paying for that subscription to use Windows 365 and the ability to receive the ESUs is included in that. So that’s the second way that you could get these updates. And Microsoft is saying of course if you’re using a physical PC right now there’s no reason why you couldn’t migrate to using Windows 365 and get the updates for free that way if that makes sense for your organization and use case. Now the third way that you can get these updates and it’s not free but you do get a significant discount of 25%.

That is if you’re using something from Microsoft for patching and deployment and management. So if you have licenses for Microsoft Intune or you’re using Windows Auto Patch then you can get these extended updates for those devices that are managed by those technologies with a 25% discount. So essentially just a quick recap there are three ways. So either an activation key that you have to pay for the full price for free on Windows 365 or with a 25% discount on managed devices that are managed via Windows Auto Patch or Microsoft Intune. Microsoft is emphasizing this is a temporary solution. Ultimately you should be planning to move to Windows 11.(…)

Now probably you know things are going to change quite significantly over the next couple of years by the time we actually reach October 2025. Things are moving forward so fast with artificial intelligence. You know when Microsoft releases the next big update to Windows 11 in fall of this year there are going to be a lot of new features within the operating system to help users improve productivity with artificial intelligence. All that kind of orchestration with Windows that we’ve talked about with Windows Autopilot. Sorry Windows, sorry Copilot for Windows. I tried to get the name right and probably there’s going to be stuff that’s integrated with the Copilot that comes with Microsoft 365 if your organization is paying for that.

But I suspect there are going to be loads of stuff in there that organizations are going to want at some point down the line anyway even if you’re not ready to move to Windows 11 right now. Of course you’ve got the release of the ARM Qualcomm PCs this year as well and that’s probably really going to help accelerate the use of AI on Windows because of the built-in MPUs. That’s not to say that Intel also doesn’t have its built-in MPUs with the latest lineup of hardware that it has out right now. But I think the introduction of really fast and powerful ARM PCs for Windows is really going to accelerate AI usage on the platform as well. You can purchase the first year of an extended security update for Windows 10 starting in October 2024 to make sure that you’re absolutely ready for this to happen.

We don’t know what the consumer pricing for these extended security updates is going to be at this stage. I expect that it will be considerably cheaper than what Microsoft is offering for commercial customers but I wouldn’t expect it to be very cheap because of course Microsoft still wants you to upgrade to Windows 11 or buy a new piece of hardware that has Windows 11 pre-installed. So you really have to weigh up if you’re an enterprise customer. Paying for the extended security updates is almost as expensive as just upgrading the hardware that you need to move to Windows 11 if that’s what’s blocking you from upgrading or just upgrading to Windows 11 anyway. Of course there are reasons why people didn’t want to do it. If it wasn’t because of the hardware requirements it was because of the various regressions in the user interface.

Well Microsoft has done a lot over the last couple of years to really fix those issues so you have to make a decision about are you going to do the upgrade in time before October 2025 or is it worth your organization paying for these updates. Of course there will always be some devices that just can’t be upgraded for whatever reason at that stage so you know it’s always an option to pay. Let me know in the comments below where you are on your Windows 11 upgrade journey.

Maybe you haven’t even started yet. Maybe there are no plans to start. I’d really love to know in the comments below and if you have done it how has the reception been from end users? Do they like it? Have you managed to get user acceptance on it? I’d love to know what your situation is. Please let me know. I’m going to leave you with another video on the screen now about the global licensing changes that Microsoft has made to the Office apps and Microsoft Teams so do check that out. If you found the video useful today I’d really appreciate it if you give it a thumbs up because it helps us to grow the channel and get more people to see our content. But that’s it from me today and I’ll see you next time.