As most of you will already know Microsoft is changing the way they release software. Instead of bringing out a “new version” of Windows with new features every few years (Windows XP, then Vista, then 7, then 8…) they are going to provide new features every few months in Windows 10. That sounds great to most people, but what if you are a company, a government office or a hospital that requires new features to be vetted for functionality and security; well, you certainly wouldn’t want those features rolling out automatically to your staff. That is where LTSB comes in. Long Term Servicing Branch versions of Windows 10 act like older versions of Windows in that you will still receive security patches and bug fixes through Windows Update but you will not receive enhancements and new features.
If you want to receive new features and enhancements in Windows 10, you will need to use the Windows 10 CB Current Branch version. That is the ‘normal’ version that 99% of retail and home users will have.
As you can read in our short article on what Windows 10 LTSB is missing, it does not have programs like Cortana, Edge, and the Store.
Fortunately Microsoft will allow users to flip between versions every year or so. UPDATED Sept 2015: See our short article on HOW TO CHANGE WINDOWS 10 LTSB to CB Windows 10 LTSB will periodically match the Windows 10 CB version and when it does, users will be able to change to the different stream. LTSB machines can be converted to CB versions and vise versa.
Microsoft poorly explains LTSB this way:
Windows 10 Enterprise builds on Windows 10 Pro adding premium features designed to address the needs of large and mid-size organizations (including large academic institutions), such as advanced protection against modern security threats, full flexibility of OS deployment, updating and support options; as well as comprehensive device and app management and control capabilities.
The LTSB edition provides customers with access to the Long Term Servicing Branch as a deployment option for their mission critical devices and environments.
To the right is an excellent graphic from our good friends at Windows IT Pro the shows the progression, proving that a picture is worth the preceding 1000 words.