Everything You Need To Know About Windows 10 EOL

Everything You Need To Know About Windows 10 EOL

Table of Contents

Since its release in July 2015, Microsoft’s Windows 10 has been one of the most widely used and popular operating systems worldwide. For many years, Windows 10 has dominated the worldwide market. Today, in 2024, its market share hovers just below 70%. For many years, enterprises leveraged this operating system and reaped the benefits of Microsoft’s updates and support offerings. 


Windows 10 features numerous editions, including Home, Pro, Enterprise, Education, Mobile, and IoT (Internet-of-Things). Since its inception, there have been multiple versions, beginning with 1507 and 1508 and concluding with 21H2 and 22H2. In terms of support, Microsoft initially provided five years of support with an option to extend support for a subsequent five years. Microsoft then shifted to an 18 or 32-month support model that depends on which edition of Windows 10 an enterprise uses. 


Windows 10 support branches include critical updates, feature upgrades, feature upgrade cadence, upgrade support, update support, and update methods. Over the years, Microsoft’s Windows 10 and its features and support offerings received positive feedback from users in diverse contexts. However, very soon, many enterprises using Windows 10 will face a tricky crossroads that they must navigate responsibly. That’s because, in October 2025, Windows 10 will reach its end of life (EOL).


Failure to know about and plan for Windows 10 EOL can have significant cybersecurity, performance, and business implications. This post focuses on Windows 10’s EOL in 2025 and highlights why and how businesses should plan for it. 


What is Windows 10 EOL? 


Before delving into the details of Windows 10 EOL, let’s gain a broader understanding of EOL. EOL for software and hardware means that a particular product is at the end of its lifecycle. After a product EOL, manufacturers will not continue to design, deploy, or sell the product. Another important thing to remember is that EOL is not always the same as the end of service/support (EOS). EOS is when a provider doesn’t offer supplementary services such as repairs, helplines, and technical assistance. 


In 2025, we will see the end of both the final versions of Windows 10 - version 21H2 and 22H2. The Windows 10 end date also marks the end of support. Microsoft will no longer provide new features, technical support, free upgrades, and monthly security updates. With the Windows 10 EOL, businesses also lose feature updates and other kinds of critical Windows updates. 


Windows 10 PCs will not stop functioning after the 2025 EOL date. Instead, they just won’t have automatic updates or technical support. However, after the EOL date, Microsoft Windows 365 applications will not function on Windows 10 systems. Furthermore, Microsoft Office applications are also reaching their EOL in 2025, which means many businesses are looking at a radical IT change in the near future.


What is the impact of Windows 10 EOL? 


Now that we know what Windows 10 EOL is, let’s examine its implications for businesses and their IT operations. Here are the most profound ways Windows 10 EOL may affect businesses. 


Outdated Hardware 


The upcoming EOL will have a significant impact on businesses using Windows 10 PCs. Some older hardware and PCs can’t easily upgrade to Windows 11. Therefore, companies may have to treat their old PCs as e-waste and dispose of them. Others may continue working on Windows 10 PCs with no updates. Whichever they choose, it’s important to keep in mind that Windows 10 EOL has both software—and hardware-related implications. 


Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities


Without Windows 10 patches, upgrades, and security updates, businesses will likely have IT ecosystems rife with cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Since the average cost of a data breach in 2023 is a disturbing $4.45 million, businesses should not take this lightly. Even the best in-house cybersecurity and IT teams will struggle to keep IT environments safe without Microsoft's support and services. If businesses don’t efficiently plan for the looming Windows 10 EOL, they could quickly become victims of data breaches.  


Suboptimal Performance


When software or hardware stops receiving updates and upgrades, performance inevitably dips. Furthermore, without the option of requesting official tech support, businesses may not know how to get the best out of their Windows 10 systems after October 2025. Since most companies rely on robust IT infrastructure to succeed in their respective fields, this can have serious repercussions. 


Increased IT Costs


It’s always best to go with the latest version of any software or operating system. By using EOL versions of Windows, businesses will end up spending more on their IT ecosystems. Costs can range from remediating security issues, scrambling for third-party support, purchasing extended support from Microsoft, and buying new hardware. Furthermore, EOL systems are more likely to cause service disruptions and downtime, affecting IT budgets and reducing revenue margins. 


Compliance Complexities


Cybersecurity and compliance are closely interlinked. If specific issues plague an enterprise’s cybersecurity pillar, the compliance pillar will also face challenges. Windows 10 EOL can leave businesses with numerous cybersecurity vulnerabilities, affecting their compliance posture. Compliance failures and fines can range from a few hundred dollars to millions. Hefty compliance fines can be impossible for small and medium businesses to recover from. 


Integration Limitations


The performance of an IT ecosystem largely depends on how well disparate tools, services, and solutions integrate and function. Once Windows 10 reaches its EOL, businesses will face integration challenges between their Windows 10 systems and various other software and hardware. Scaling and growth become challenging if companies can’t integrate new hardware and software into their IT ecosystems. Without the ability to grow their IT operations ad hoc, most modern organizations would fall behind in their industries. 


Who does the Windows 10 EOL impact? 


Now that we know that the Windows 10 EOL can significantly affect organizations through outdated hardware, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, poor performance, increased costs, compliance issues, and integration limitations, let’s set the record straight on who exactly it impacts. 


The Windows 10 EOL will impact any individual or business that uses any of Windows 10’s many versions, including Home, Pro, Education, and Enterprise. This applies to all users of Windows 10, irrespective of their context, industry, scale, and other factors. If an individual or enterprise uses one of the many Windows 10 versions listed above, then they will feel the effects of the upcoming EOL. 


It’s important to know that one group of businesses will continue to receive updates from Microsoft even after October 2025. These businesses use Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC (long-term servicing channel). For Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC users, there’s still a couple of years before they have to worry about EOL. For everyone else, it’s time to address this significant change.


How can organizations approach the Windows 10 EOL?


Organizations can react to the upcoming Windows 10 EOL in many different ways. However, their options aren’t all equal. In fact, some of those options may cause further complications. This makes it important for enterprises to create a software and hardware lifecycle policy to support their IT strategies.


The following highlights a few different ways enterprises can confront the Windows 10 EOL, as well as the implications of choosing a particular method. 


Upgrade to Windows 11


Some businesses may think migrating to new Windows operating systems like Windows 11 is straightforward. Others may have noticed the cybersecurity fragility of transitioning from outdated versions like Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to newer models. However, for the most part, moving from Windows 10 to 11 is simple, safe, and widely recommended. To update to Windows 11, there are no costs involved. The only caveat is that businesses’ hardware must be Windows 11-ready. When moving to Windows 11, companies must follow some basic safety protocols, such as backing up data


Remain with Windows 10


No rule states that businesses can’t remain with their Windows 10 systems after the EOL date 2025. Some companies may think that this is a low-effort option and a way to continue operations without any complications. However, sticking with EOL software can have disastrous consequences, and businesses should take the time and effort needed to transition smoothly to a modern solution like Windows 11. Businesses that remain with Windows 10 must be ready for a rise in cyberattacks (including malware, ransomware, social engineering attacks, supply chain attacks, etc.), disruptions, compliance challenges, and other complexities. 


Replace PCs with New Hardware


Another option for digital and IoT enterprises moving from the final version of Windows 10 involves replacing older PCs with new PCs, laptops, and workstations or shifting to Apple or Linux products. Apple and Linux solutions have many benefits, but there are a few important things to consider. Firstly, moving from Windows-based systems to different models is quite radical, and it may take teams and personnel some time to get acquainted with the new IT infrastructure. Furthermore, hardware and software from other providers can be costly, so it may not be a viable solution for small and medium businesses. 


Use Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates


Some businesses may choose to remain with the current version of Windows 10 after the end of support date with the help of Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates, also called the ESU program. Using the ESU program might not be the first option for many enterprises. However, in some unique cases, enterprises with large stacks of critical legacy applications or Windows 10-based systems may leverage Microsoft’s ESU program to avoid significant service or business disruptions. At the very least, it may buy them some more time and allow them to migrate to a different version later. The ESU program is a legitimate and safe option, which means there’s less chance of unexpected complexities. 


Windows 10 EOL: The Bottom Line


The upcoming Windows 10 EOL is an important example of why businesses need a powerful IT ecosystem and cybersecurity program in place. As Windows 10 approaches its end-of-life, challenges like outdated hardware, cyberattacks, performance lags, high IT costs, regulatory considerations, and integration and scalability challenges will come to the forefront. To continue to succeed in their sectors, businesses must mitigate these challenges.  


The best thing enterprises can do to navigate the Windows 10 EOL is to understand what it is, know how it may impact them, and know the various options they can take. Not all options are challenge-free, but better options, such as updating to Windows 11 or using Microsoft’s ESU programs, can help businesses stay safe and efficient during this change.


Is your IT the best it can be?


Categories: Security, Strategy, IT Management, Network Security, Network, IT, Software, Cybersecurity, Windows 10, Windows 11, Windows, Endpoint, Hardware

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