Windows 10 support is ending in 2025 - so what does that actually mean?
A number of different things but, most importantly, that something new is coming
Count on Microsoft to have a convenient change of heart about any number of important matters - and that now includes Windows 10, the operating system the Redmond giant called "the last version of Windows" when it was about to launch in July 2015. That phrase meant to imply that Windows 10 would be upgraded on a regular basis while its core would be slowly changing as needed for a very, very long time: an operating system essentially staying the same while evolving at a glacial pace. Things probably did not go as planned, though, because there's an operating system after Windows 10 in Microsoft's roadmap already and the company officially admits as much.
Anyone interested in visiting Microsoft's webpage where the support period for every version of Windows 10 is clearly stated, will now find something that was not there a few days ago: Windows 10 Home and Pro now have a retirement date of 14/10/2025, a bit more than a decade after they were first released (enterprise editions are treated differently). As one cannot easily imagine Windows vanishing from the face of the Earth in four short years, this practically means that a new version of Windows, other than 10 Home/Pro, will take the place of the current one.
This is, of course, the strongest indication yet that Windows 11 is coming. Microsoft themselves have been dropping hints about their June 24th event lately - where we're all invited "to see what's next for Windows" - by posting a photo with an "eleven" hidden in it or a video of slowed-down Windows startup sounds that's exactly 11 minutes long (the event will also be starting at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time). But the retirement date of Windows 10 makes it official: its successor is getting ready and it will be appearing way before 2025 (support cycles are reset every six months based on the current upgrade model of Windows 10).
How Microsoft plans to handle this is anyone's guess. In 2021 terms it seems almost unthinkable to charge consumers for the upgrade of an operating system to a new version: not only have Apple and Google distanced themselves from that model for many years now, but Microsoft themselves have offered the previous version for free to hundreds of millions of people already. On the other hand, the Redmond giant may have decided that this approach did not work as well as expected last time around and plans to charge a nominal fee for the upgrade to Windows 11 (hopefully towards better support compared to what we ended up with in the Windows 10 era).
In any case, nobody's expecting Windows 11 to show up in 2021 since Microsoft has already done much of the work needed for the Windows 21H2 update, the one codenamed "Sun Valley" that's supposed to bring about a design overhaul and a number of improvements to the operating system. A worldwide launch of Windows 11 in August 2022 though - in time for the "back to school" period and just before the most important quarter of the year for PCs, the fourth one - is not out of the question. It's unlikely that we'll find out on June 24th but... cross fingers?