When buying any new smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop PC, software support is a key area to consider. How long can you use the device before it stops getting updates and becomes vulnerable to bugs and other malware?
This usually ranges from two to five years on Android, while iOS offers six as standard. macOS varies between 5-7 years, but Windows is the clear winner in this area.
Major versions are supported for up to a decade, after which you might be able to update for free. But when will Windows 11 stop being supported? Here’s what we know so far.
How long will Windows 11 be supported for?
Microsoft is yet to confirm when Windows 11 will stop being supported. That’s not a surprise, as it doesn’t usually reveal the date until a new version is here. For Windows 10, that was June 2021 – just after Windows 11 was first announced.
Assuming that remains the case, the announcement regarding Windows 11 end of life will take place after the next major version is official. That’s rumoured to be known as Windows 12, and arrive at some point in 2024.
You won’t need to update straight away, but it’s important to do so before its end of life. Here are the mainstream support dates for the last few iterations of Windows:
- Windows 10 – July 2015-October 2025
- Windows 8.1 – October 2013-July 2018
- Windows 8 – August 2012-January 2016
- Windows Vista – January 2007-April 2012
- Windows 7 – October 2009-January 2020
Extended support usually continues beyond these dates, but it’s mainstream support that’s most relevant for consumers. In general, you’re looking at five years for versions with mixed reviews, but a decade for more popular ones.
It remains to be seen where Windows 11 ends up. But if the Windows Central report of a major new version every three years turns out to be true, Windows 11 might stop being supported sooner than we’ve come to expect.
Will I need to update Windows 11 before support ends?
Yes. Microsoft will continue supporting Windows 11 for a few more years at least, but only if you continue updating your device.
You don’t need to install every monthly security update, but each ‘feature’ update is only supported for a limited time. Here are the deadlines for the two which have been released so far:
- Windows 11 22H2 – 8 October 2024
- Windows 11 21H2 – 10 October 2023
Not sure which you’re running? Head to Settings > System > About and check under ‘Windows Specifications’.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
It’s highly unlikely you’ll go two years without updating your device at all (unless you never use it) – especially if you don’t turn off automatic updates.
What will happen after Windows 11 support ends?
It’s worth clarifying what Microsoft means when it says ‘end of support’. To mark the end of extended support for Windows 8.1 in January 2023, Microsoft confirmed it would no longer provide the following:
- Technical support of any issue
- Software updates
- Security updates or fixes
Devices still function, but are left exposed to viruses and malware. Many developers stop working on apps for an operating system once support ends too, meaning you won’t get any new features and there could be bugs there.
There have been times in the past where Microsoft issued a patch for a version it no longer supported, but that depends on popularity and is far from guaranteed.
These guidelines are unlikely to change significantly when it comes to Windows 11.