For many years, Windows has been the best-known and most universal operating system for commercial and private IT end devices such as PCs and notebooks. In these areas of use, the focus is on ensuring that as many applications as possible – such as Office or video and image processing software – can be installed and used as required. However, there are also a large number of devices such as industrial automation systems, cash register terminals, medical devices and digital signage players with exactly one application purpose – and this is precisely what Windows was developed for the “Internet of Things”, or IoT for short. These devices are often connected to the internet and are therefore part of an internet network of various things.

Based on a normal Windows Home or Professional version, Windows IoT is functionally restricted in many ways – the app store, various tools and games as well as video and image editing apps are excluded. Windows IoT Enterprise LTSC only provides the operating system functionality for one app in most cases and enables certain restrictions, such as putting the system into a secure kiosk mode, without access to underlying operating system functions. The devices can also be configured so precisely that Windows functions that are not required – such as USB access – are blocked. This streamlines the system and makes it safer, more robust and faster. The system is often even operated in a “read only” mode, i.e. the presence of (malicious) software is definitely ruled out after a reboot.
As a rule, the device manufacturer (OEM) of the IoT device licenses and installs the software for the user and sells the device as a fixed complete solution – usually even without a visible Windows desktop.

Continuous security updates but no functional upgrades

But if the operating system is so heavily predefined, how can operational security be guaranteed?

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC automatically receives security updates and bug fixes at the usual Windows weekly intervals.

Software upgrades, i.e. functional additions to the “normal” Windows Pro/Home versions, have been made available by Microsoft annually since 2022 (until then every six months), typically in September. As these upgrades are very extensive at several gigabytes and may therefore lead to downtimes during installation, they are deactivated. Windows IoT Enterprise LTSC is therefore a predefined operating system with only security-relevant, but small, quick-to-install updates.

To ensure that an IoT device can still benefit from a more up-to-date operating system, Microsoft releases a new basic version every one to two years.

Current overview of the valid IoT Enterprise LTSC releases:

Release Versions       Start Date End of Product Life
Windows 11 IoT Enterprise LTSC, Version 24H2 2024-05 2034-05
Windows 11 IoT Enterprise LTSC, Version 2023 2023-10-31 2033-11-10
Windows 11 IoT Enterprise LTSC, Version 2022 2022-09-20 2032-10-14
Windows 11 IoT Enterprise LTSC, Version 2021 2021-10-04 2031-10-08


These “LTSC” (Long Term Servicing Channel) versions enable the OEM to build a device operating system with a defined range of functions. It receives security updates automatically. However, no functional upgrades are installed automatically – which often require several GB of installation data.

In addition to Home/Pro and LTSC, there is a third version of Windows: Windows IoT Enterprise GAC (General Availability Channel). This version can be seen as a “hybrid” between LTSC and Home/Pro. On the one hand, it has the same annual and automated functional upgrade function as Home and Pro – but on the other hand, it has functional restrictions with regard to the focus on one application: the app store and games etc. are missing. We use the SAC (semi-annual updates based on Windows 10) and GAC (annual updates based on Windows 11) versions on our stable, industrial “rugged tablet PCs”. In Germany, this also has the advantage that the GEMA fee for PCs and the ZPÜ is waived – just as with the LTSC version.

Licensing costs for Windows IoT Enterprise according to performance

Regardless of the version, Windows 10 IoT Enterprise has a clear pricing model for different CPU performance levels with the three classes Entry, Value and High End. Here at Concept International, we offer the following price levels for digital signage solutions, industrial PCs and kiosk systems:

  • Entry: Intel Atom and Celeron and AMD G-Series CPUs at a low entry price
  • Value: Intel Core i3, Core i5, AMD Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5 CPUs at a fair value price
  • High-end: Performance CPUs such as Intel Xeon, Core i9, Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7

The Windows 10 Professional Used License is available as a particularly affordable option. It is an affordable alternative for value and high-end systems and is roughly on a par with the Entry* price. Here you forgo the advantages of the reduced IoT Enterprise version. It is advisable to customize the operating system so that, for example, notifications are hidden. A large upgrade download can be skipped via a delayed upgrade time and a manually triggered upgrade.

The Concept International Total Preparation Service

Concept International offers many extended services for the commissioning of digital signage solutions, industrial PCs or kiosk systems for the Windows IoT versions. On request, we can support you with the roll-out of projects with the Total Preparation Service: the systems are configured and permanently tested on a project-specific basis. This means that even large quantities can be rolled out quickly.

In addition, resellers and user companies can, for example, completely remove the universal and traditional “Windows” appearance with a customer-specific boot logo, predefined login, autostart app and restricted user rights and make the device more secure: The focus is fully on the individual application and the precisely controlled allocation of user access. The OEM information can also be modified: For example, you can add your own company name and logo as well as support times, telephone number and URL for customers.

*Note: With a Used Windows 10 Professional license, experience has shown that you cannot avoid the copyright fee of the ZPÜ (Zentralstelle für private Überspielungsrechte). This amounts to 13.19 euros for consumer PCs and 4.00 euros for business PCs. It is difficult to prove that it is a business PC and not a normal PC. For this reason, the digital signage sector usually works with a flat rate of 9.19 euros – with the result that the Professional plus ZPÜ price is at the same level as the IoT Entry variant.