Microsoft Details Plan To Charge Windows 10 Users A Fee For Future Security Updates

Windows 10 desktop screen.
If you're still rocking Windows 10, don't panic, fee-based security updates are not imminent. However, they are coming once Windows 10 officially reaches End of Life (EOL) status, which barring any reprieves will happen on October 14, 2025. If by chance you're still running what will then be considered a legacy OS (and it's likely many people still will be), security updates will no longer be free as they are now.

Microsoft is giving business and home users alike an extended heads up so those affected will have plenty of time to prepare. And naturally, Microsoft is taking the opportunity once again to encourage users to upgrade their systems to Windows 11.

"While two years may seem like a long runway, ensuring a modernized infrastructure will help keep your organization productive and its data secure. We're encouraged to see organizations realizing the benefits of Windows 11 by upgrading eligible devices to Windows 11 well ahead of the EOS date," Microsoft explains in a blog post.

As to what exactly the EOS label entails, it means Microsoft will stop pushing out bug fixes, security patches, and even time zone updates. Likewise, Microsoft does not provide technical support for products that have reached the EOS state.

"With the EOS for Windows 10 coming in less than two years, now is the time to migrate to a modern OS. Ensure that your organization isn’t left running unsupported software that is no longer receiving security updates. Organizations running legacy software are vulnerable to significant security risk and potential compliance violations," Microsoft further pleads.

More than just a scare tactic, Microsoft is correct in essentially stating that unsupported Windows PCs are sitting ducks for hackers and emerging threats. There have been extreme cases where Microsoft has pushed out security patches for legacy OSes, like when it mitigated a WannaCry-style wormable exploit in Windows XP in 2019, but these are exceptionally rare.

While Microsoft "strongly" recommends upgrading to Windows 11, there is an alternative. The company said it will offer a paid "Extended Security Updates" subscription that will ensure that security patches keep rolling out. Not that this only includes critical and/or important security updates and not new features, design changes, and so forth.

StatCounter graph showing the market share breakdown of different versions of Windows.

The ESU program is not a new by any stretch, however this is the first time that Microsoft has extended the option to consumers rather than limiting it to business organizations and enterprise clients. This is likely because of how popular Windows 10 remains. According to StatCounter, Windows 10 accounts for more than 68% of all Windows systems, versus 26.63% for Windows 11.