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Windows 10 support ends in 2025. What it means for your device

Microsoft's Windows 11 begins rolling out today, and there are some things you should know about the life span of Microsoft's older OS.

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Windows 10 support will still be available for four years.

Angela Lang/CNET

Windows 10 will be retired with Windows 7 in the graveyard of Microsoft operating systems. With Microsoft making Windows 11 a free upgrade that launched today, the tech juggernaut will pull the plug on Windows 10 support on Oct. 14, 2025. That gives you four years to prepare as Microsoft slowly moves its billion-plus Windows users to Windows 11

The company's new OS will gradually roll out to compatible Windows devices starting today through mid-2022. You can expect a brand-new design that borrows a Mac-like look and includes updated features. For instance, the Windows Start Menu gets a refresh that moves it to a different place on the screen and a few productivity features that can help with multitasking. There's also a change to make Android apps more readily available on Windows 11 coming soon. 

As many people prepare to update their Windows laptops and desktops to the latest software, what happens to PCs still running Windows 10 in 2025? We'll explain. And here are some big differences between Windows 10 and Windows 11 that you can look forward to. This story was recently updated.

Read more: Windows 11 review: Familiar but fresh

What does it mean for Microsoft to end support for Windows 10?

As it did with Windows 7 in January 2020, Microsoft will pull active support for Windows 10 in 2025. You'll still be able to use the software, but you won't get any more security updates. There also won't be any new features added to the software. Instead, Microsoft is shifting its focus to Windows 11, which comes with Android apps, desktop widgets and new Xbox gaming features for the PC.

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Will I have to switch to Windows 11? 

Probably not. Many people are still running Windows 7 and 8 on their computers and never switched to Windows 10. However, it's recommended to use the most up-to-date software so you get security updates. Without security updates, your computer is at risk for malware and other vulnerabilities that can expose you to hacks, viruses and more. 

Will Windows 11 be completely free to upgrade?

Yes. Free upgrades to eligible Windows 10 PCs will be available from today, Oct. 5. The free upgrades will continue into 2022. If you're still running Windows 7 but want to upgrade to Windows 11, you'll first need to upgrade to Windows 10 to be eligible.

Read more: How to download Windows 10  for free before you get Windows 11

When will Windows 11 support end?

Since Windows 11 is so new, we likely won't have an answer to that for years to come. When support ends, Microsoft 10 will have been around for 10 years, so Windows 11 could have a similar timeline.

For more about Windows 11, here's how to download the new operating system and how to check if your computer is compatible. You can also take a look at how what you should do before downloading Windows 11