Windows is the de facto PC operating system for the majority of people, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Windows 10 (and Windows 11) is pre-loaded with tons of Microsoft apps like Edge and Windows Media Player that you may not want, and certain data-tracking settings turned on by default. It’s also notorious for buggy and broken updates that crash your PC.
Most people assume that the only alternative is Linux or will jump ship to Apple’s Mac machines, but there’s actually a version of Windows 10 called Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC that lacks many of the OS’s biggest drawbacks, but is completely stable and supports all the normal Windows apps and processes.
LTSC stands for “Long Term Servicing Channel” and is a stripped-down Enterprise version of the OS based on specific builds of Windows 10. There are no extras like pre-installed apps, the Cortana assistant, or extraneous features like the “News and Interest” taskbar tab Microsoft added last year (the features it cuts depend on which LTSC build you install, though). The lack of extra features and apps will leave you with more hard drive space and system resources, so your PC will (theoretically) run better. It also spares you from broken Windows feature updates.
What’s the catch to Windows 10 LTSC?
So far the LTSC sounds pretty good, but there are some caveats. First, unless you already have a valid Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC product key, you need to purchase one from Microsoft to validate your installation.
The other major argument against using LTSC is that it won’t receive major Windows updates; the build you install is the build you’re stuck with. But as this Reddit thread points out, that’s the whole point: you’re skipping the new features in favor of a fully stable operating system.
However, if you do want to update to a new LTSC build (or change back to the Home edition of Windows 10 or 11), you have to perform a full reinstall—and purchase a new key every time you want to upgrade. Fortunately, LTSC builds still get the latest Windows 10 security updates and bug fixes, so security won’t be an issue. That said, LTSC versions released after 2021 only receive five years of post-launch security update support, as opposed to 10 years of support for other versions.
While not technically made for general users, the LTSC version works just fine on a computer you use every day as long as you’re okay with not getting the latest features. You can still connect to the internet, install third-party apps, play PC games, and just about everything else you might use your computer for—though it will take some work to get certain tasks and apps to work properly.
You’ll need to install a few apps like a media player (such as VLC player), word processors, and an internet browser to make up for the lack of Windows Media Player, Microsoft Office, Edge, and the rest (note that Windows 10 LTSC does include Internet Explorer, but it’s no longer supported by Microsoft so you’ll want to install a different browser). The LTSC also does not include the Windows Store app, but this can be downloaded and installed if you want it. You will also have to manually update your device drivers in some cases.
How to install Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC
If you want to try Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC for yourself, you can easily grab a 90-day evaluation version for free—but don’t forget you’ll need a valid product key to activate your OS once the evaluation period, which you need to buy from Microsoft.
Here’s how to set it up:
- Go to the Microsoft Evaluation Center page.
- Select the 64-Bit LTSC version for your region/language to begin the download.
- Once the download is finished, use the ISO file to create a bootable USB installer and use it to install Windows 10 LTSC. We have a guide that will take you through the entire process if you don’t know how to do this—just make sure you use the LTSC ISO.