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5 min

LTSC: Everything you need to know

5 min

Long-Term Servicing Channel products are perpetual licences from Microsoft. These licences were created to support companies with a long-term focus on traditional life cycles of quality and security updates. In this article, you will find out all about what exactly LTSC is, which LTSC products there are, when LTSC comes in handy and more. 

What is LTSC?

Long-Term Servicing Channel, also called LTSC, is designed for Windows devices. It is a software version model by Microsoft, these apply to Windows Server, Windows Office and Windows 10. LTSC is designed for a specific kind of business. For example, Windows 10 LTSC, like other versions, gets 10 years of support by default. The only difference that the LTSC version brings is the fact that there is only one update every three years. LTSC is specially designed for installation on computers that require fully statistical functions over a longer period. Think, for example, of computers connected to working environments, such as medical devices or machines in factories, these need to keep working consistently and reliably.

Updates are usually good for businesses, because they can mean that there is a new or better way of doing something. But for computers that perform important tasks and where consistency plays an important role, these updates can be perceived as disruptive. For example, there might be a whole new user interface or some features may be removed, which can cause problems. LTSC therefore ensures that all updates are accumulated and these are then compiled into a major update every three years. When this update is ready, the business admin can decide whether to implement it or not.  Furthermore, the LTSC editions are equipped with less pre-installed software, which makes them more streamlined for certain usage scenarios.

LTSC: Products

Microsoft offers LTSC for Windows, Office and Windows Server. You can read more about the LTSC versions for these Microsoft products below.

Windows LTSC

Windows LTSC is the most frequently used software license of the LTSC program. Windows is a group of different operating system families developed by Microsoft and it is now the most widely used operating system worldwide. The LTSC release, which is only granted with Windows Enterprise, is meant for specific scenarios where stability and consistency are crucial. Windows LTSC comes with a few key features:

  1. Long-term support: LTSC versions receive comprehensive support for security and stability. LTSC is suitable for devices and systems that require a reliable and unchanging environment for an extended period.
  2. Rarely major feature updates: Compared to other editions of Windows that receive regular updates, LTSC versions have a longer release cycle. About every three years, LTSC versions receive an update and these are characterised by fewer major feature changes. This contributes to a predictable and consistent environment.
  3. Stability and predictability: The main goal of LTSC is to ensure a stable and predictable working environment. Very important for certain sectors and industries, such as healthcare, critical infrastructure, and manufacturing.
  4. Targeted use cases: LTSC is often used in specialised scenarios and industries. In these industries, it is important to maintain a consistent and unchanging system environment. Think of industrial machines, embedded systems, or point-of-sale systems.
  5. Limited consumer functions: LTSC versions lack certain consumer-facing features. For example, LTSC versions do not have pre-installed applications, such as Microsoft Edge, News or the Cortana assistant that is currently discontinued.

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Read more about Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021.

Office LTSC

In addition to Windows LTSC, there is also an LTSC version of Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office LTSC is a version of Office that is intended for commercial and government customers. It is a perpetual licence, which means you only need to purchase the product once. However, Office only comes in two Office LTSC versions, which are the Office LTSC Professional Plus 2021 and Office LTSC Standard 2021.

  1. Office 2021 Standard LTSC: Features the standard applications: Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, Outlook and Publisher.
  2. Office 2021 Professional Plus LTSC: Also features these standard applications but has two additional complementary applications: Access and Teams. However, these two applications are only available for the Windows operating system.

Microsoft Office 2021 Banner

Read more about Microsoft Office 2021 LTSC.

Find out more about the differences between Office 2021 and Office LTSC.

Windows Server LTSC

As of the beginning of September 2023, Windows Server has two primary release channels available. These consist of the Long-term Servicing channel (LTSC) and the Annual Channel. The LTSC offers a longer-term option that focuses on a traditional lifecycle of quality and security updates. Annual Channel, on the other hand, offers more frequent updates. AC's more frequent releases allow you to benefit faster from innovation with an emphasis on containers and microservices.

With Windows Server LTSC, bigger changes only come after two or three years. Users are entitled to five years of regular support and then also five years of extended security support. LTSC can be installed with Server Core or Server with Desktop Experience installation options.

When to use LTSC?

Microsoft recommends LTSC primarily for devices or systems not generally intended for consumers. The regular Windows 10 editions are better suited for personal devices.

It is to be noted that LTSC may not be the best choice for everyone. This is because it lacks the latest features and improvements introduced in the more frequent Windows updates. As mentioned earlier, LTSC is designed for businesses where stability, reliability and long-term support are paramount. For most businesses, the best choice is to install the latest updates, as these updates often come with improvements or new additions which can make working easier.

LTSC vs Semi-Annual Channel

The main difference between the two channels is when the update occurs. For example, Windows 10 devices in the Semi-Annual Channel get two feature updates every year. Semi-Annual Channel updates take place in spring and autumn. These updates include new features, services and other major changes. Security updates and other minor changes come every month after.

If you want to innovate quickly, the Semi-Annual channel is the solution. As mentioned above, you get two major updates in a year. This way, you can quickly take advantage of the new features and have a good overview.

Do you still need a longer cycle and predictability? Then LTSC might suit you better. With LTSC, you get access to the latest versions every two or three years.

LTSC: End of Life

Microsoft's various LTSC products all have different end-of-life dates. Below is a brief overview with the end of life dates for each product.

 End of life Microsoft products

 Release date

 Regular support

 Comprehensive support

 Windows 10 LTSC (version 21H2)




 Office 2021 LTSC




 Windows Server 2022 LTSC




*Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021 (version 21H2) does not have extended support and so support will end on 12 January 2027. Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 (version 21H2), on the other hand, will receive extended support until 13 January 2032.

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Buy LTSC Software

LTSC licences can be more expensive, so you may want to consider a second-hand licence. You can save up to 70% on the price of a new licence. Softtrader offers a wide range of Pre-Owned software, including Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows Server 2022 and Microsoft 2021.

Need help choosing the right licence for you? Then don't hesitate to contact us.