Windows 2019 GA, Servicing Channel Model & End of support

Hello World, 

As you are probably aware, Microsoft has announced the General Availability of Windows 2019 Server on October 2, 2018.  This is the latest iteration of Windows Server and will providing a bunch of new features while still improving existing features founded in previous releases.    However, because of a bug (affecting Windows 10 – version 1809), the windows 2019 media have been withdrawn while Microsoft is investigating what could be the issue. 

This announcement and the noise about the windows bug offer us the opportunity to review topics that any IT Responsible should start to look at.  This post will quickly review the Life Support policy for the windows server operating system. This post will also provide an overview of the new Servicing Channel model that Microsoft want to enforce making Windows as Service a reality….

End of Support Overview

Based on the information found on the Microsoft web Site, the following table shows the expected end of support for the different Operating system :

Windows Server release Version OS Build Availability Mainstream support end date Extended support end date
Windows 2008 R2 SP1 6.1 7601 2/22/2011 1/13/2015 1/14/2020
Windows 2012  6.2 9200 10/30/2012  10/9/2018 10/10/2023
Windows 2012 R2 6.3 9400-9600 11/25/2013 10/9/2018 10/10/2023
Windows 2016 (LTSC) 10 1607 11/25/2013 10/9/2018 10/10/2023
Windows 2019  10 1809 10/2/2018 10/10/2023 10/10/2028

As you can see, Windows 2008 R2 is still under extended support but it’s becoming urgent to plan the move to a newer windows Server version.  Companies still running this version of the Windows Operating system should start planning their migration activities to a newer operating system.  Windows 2012 R2 mainstream support has also reached end of life cycle.  The release of Windows 2019 should motivate IT responsible to review their IT infrastructure and evaluate the opportunity to migrate to newer version of Windows Operating system.  Quite often, IT divisions are missing road map plans that would be used to update the IT infrastructure and take advantage of innovations included in recent operating system.  

Multiple scenario exists to move away from Windows 2008 R2.  A company can decide to migrate to Windows 2012 R2 and benefit from the 5 years extended support.  Moving to Windows 2012 R2 allows companies to stick to a classical servicing model which might be a big incentive not to move to newer versions.  The other option would be to move directly to Windows 2016 or Windows 2019.   Usually, companies tend to wait some time before deploying newer versions of Windows operating system to mitigate the risks of such move and to discover any major issues with the new release.  So, we are not expecting too many deployment of Windows 2019 in the coming months.  

Our predictions is that companies would stick to Windows 2012 R2 for some years still and will migrate to Windows 2019 directly bypassing the Windows 2016 server.  The reasoning behind is to minimize migration costs and maximize investment in the current Windows 2012 R2 platforms.  Windows 2019 server seems to be really an exciting release with a lot of improved features that can provide added value to the enterprise but come at a higher price (again).  Windows 2019 licensing will cost more (estimated 10 % more compared to previous versions) 

Windows Servicing Channel Models

Microsoft introduced Windows as a service concept in Windows 10 and they are introducing the same approach in Windows Server editions.   Windows as a Service concept start to look more and more like a mess.  A lot of customer are lost with the changes introduced with Windows 10 and the new servicing channel model.  Microsoft has made things more complicated than ever and nobody seems to be able to understand and cope with the speed of the new releases provided by the company.  The problems affecting the release of Windows 10 version 1809 (and Windows 2019 server)  might show the limitations/constraints of the model envisioned by Microsoft.  More and more people are wondering if this approach makes sense.   

In this section, we will try to summarize the changes affecting the servicing channel model used with Windows 2019 Server.


Windows Servicing channel model define the new way Microsoft will provides new releases of their products.   In the past, Windows servicing model was based on multiple release types like major revisions, service pack, updates, feature pack,…. This approach does not exists anymore on newer operating system.  Windows 10 and Windows 2016 server and later are using the new servicing model.  The following table summarize the Windows Server release available nowadays 

Windows Server release Version OS Build Availability Mainstream support end date Extended support end date
Windows Server, version 1809 (Long-Term Servicing Channel) 1809 17763 10/03/2018 10/10/2023 10/10/2028
Windows Server, version 1803 (Semi-Annual Channel)  1803 17134.1.180410-1804 04/30/2018 11/12/2019 N/A
Windows Server, version 1709 (Semi-Annual Channel) 1709 16299.15 10/17/2017 04/09/2019 N/A
Windows Server 2016 (Long-Term Servicing Channel) 1607 14393.0 10/12/2016 01/11/2022 01/11/2027

The table shows that two type of releases exists  

  • Long Term Service Channel (LTSC)  
  • Semi-Annual Channel (SAC)

Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) overview

The Long-Term servicing channel (LTSC) channel will ensure that major releases of Windows Servers will be made available every  2 to 3 years.   Mainstream support would be 5 years and extended support will be also an additional 5 years.   LTSC channel should provide stability to organizations as less frequent updates will be made available.  Security and non security updates will still be made available through this Servicing Channel. 

Semi-Annual Channel

These releases are interim releases and are targeted to customer who can adopt quickly new features and technology.   SAC will be released twice a year (in fall and Spring). Each releases will be supported for 18 months.  Most of the features provided in SAC will be then included in the next LTSC release.   SAC releases will introduces new features that will not be made available to in between LTSC releases


You cannot upgrade from Windows 2016 server to Windows 2016, version 1803 because version 1803 is part of the SAC channel mode…

How to choose between SAC and LTSC ? 

The choice will be based on your requirements or based on the corporate policy currently applicable in your organization.  You want stability and predictability then you should go for LTSC release as you know that new versions will be available every 2-3 years and that support policy is up to 10 years (5 years mainstream support and 5 years extended support).  If you need to access to the latest features and technology improvements, you should then go for the SAC release. 

Another point to take into account might be also the need of a desktop on your servers.  If you are running Remote Desktop services, you must go for LTSC as this release offer the option to perform a full installation (with Desktop) or a core installation.  The SAC release only provide Server Core and Nano server version. 

Potentially, you could mix LTSC and SAC releases based on your needs but again this might generate more work and more trouble within the IT department than benefits… 

Final Notes

Windows 2019 Server is almost ready for prime time and has reach general availability this month (October 2018).  This version of Windows server is based on its predecessor and its looks rock solid. There a some new features and improved. The one that most people are looking at is the new Windows Admin Center, the new web based central administration tool.   

Based on the new servicing model, Windows 2019 Server is considered to be a Long Term Service Channel (LTSC) version of the operating system. The next major release for this version of Windows 2019 would be available within 2-3 years.  Security updates and non security updates will be still made available to that release but no new features will be delivered till the next major release.    LTSC offers the possibility to run server core or server with full desktop experience.   SAC will provides more up to dates features and innovations but run only on Core or nano editions.  Choosing between SAC and LTSC is important.  You will not be able to upgrade from LTSC To a SAC editions as they are considered as different channel versions.  If you want to move to SAC version, a clean install is required.  

Microsoft has made a lot of changes in the way Windows operating system is delivered to customers.  These changes needs to be well understood in order to take the best decision when upgrades or complete migration decision needs to be taken… These changes are and will affect the way sysadmin and IT Department will deal with their infrastructure in the future (if their infrastructure is mainly Windows based) 

Hope this post will hep you choosing the best option 

Till next time 

See ya 












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