What to do when your Windows 10 is “nearing end of service”

James Walker

Photo of Windows Update settings in Windows 10

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Windows warnings about “nearing the end of service” can be confusing. If you’ve seen this on your device, you don’t need to worry. The message stems from the way in which Windows 10 is updated. It simply means it’s time for you to upgrade to a newer release of the operating system, in order to ensure your device stays secure.

Windows 10 is developed differently to previous versions of Windows. Microsoft used to release a new Windows version every 3-4 years, giving us names like Windows Vista, 7 and 8. With Windows 10, the company’s switched to a new approach where the operating system is continually evolved. We’ve had Windows 10 for five years and there’s no sign of anything new coming to replace it (for desktop devices at least).

Windows 10 Update

In order to keep moving forwards, Microsoft releases major Windows 10 updates on a biannual basis. Although it’s still Windows 10, these “feature updates” are comparable to the new product releases of old. Each feature update is treated as a distinct operating system in its own right, with each one supported for a set period of time. When support expires, that specific release of Windows 10 is considered to be “end of service”, but the newer releases remain unaltered.

You shouldn’t generally experience an “end of service” situation as Windows Update usually upgrades your device to the latest feature update shortly after its release. If you’ve seen a message that “Your version of Windows 10 is nearing the end of service”, it simply means you’ve not got the latest feature update installed. Read on to learn more.

Will my PC still work?

Yes, your PC will still work, even if your Windows 10 release reaches the end of its service life. However, you’ll no longer receive any security updates, which will put your device at risk. Furthermore, you’ll miss out on quality updates (fixing non-critical bugs and issues), as well as the new features in later releases.

Should I update when I see the “nearing end of service” message?

Yes. Because you’ll stop receiving security updates for your current Windows 10 release, you should update as soon as possible. This will ensure your device stays updated with future patches and remains secure.

Will I need to pay anything to upgrade or keep using my PC?

No. It’s free to upgrade to a new feature release of Windows 10. Even if you don’t upgrade, you won’t need to pay anything to keep using your PC, even if your current Windows 10 release reaches the end of its service life.

Will my files be deleted or lost during the upgrade?

No. Windows Update will take care of everything, ensuring your apps remain installed and your files stay where you left them. Nonetheless, it’s always a good idea to ensure you have a recent backup available before taking a feature upgrade.

Will anything look different on my PC after the upgrade?

That depends. Windows will still be Windows, so nothing’s going to disappear or completely change location. Depending on how old your current release is, you might notice visual differences in a newer version. These will generally be minor improvements to the look and feel of the operating system.

How do I get my upgrade?

Launch the Settings app (Win+I) and click the “Update & security” category. The Windows Update settings page will appear.

Look for a message about the next feature update being available. Click the “Download and install” button to start the upgrade process. If you don’t see this, press the “Check for updates” button. This should start things off automatically but you may need to then press “Download and install” to take the feature update.

Windows 10 Feature Update 1809

The rest of the process is automatic – just follow the prompts to restart your device and wait while the update installs. It’ll take anywhere from a few minutes up to an hour, depending on the quality of your hardware.

Once the process is complete, you’ll be dropped back to your desktop, with the “end of service” messages no more.

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