Supported Kubernetes versions in Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

The Kubernetes community releases minor versions roughly every three months. Recently, the Kubernetes community has increased the support window for each version from 9 months to 12 months, starting with version 1.19.

Minor version releases include new features and improvements. Patch releases are more frequent (sometimes weekly) and are intended for critical bug fixes within a minor version. Patch releases include fixes for security vulnerabilities or major bugs.

Kubernetes versions

Kubernetes uses the standard Semantic Versioning versioning scheme for each version:

[major].[minor].[patch]

Example:
  1.17.7
  1.17.8

Each number in the version indicates general compatibility with the previous version:

  • Major versions change when incompatible API updates or backwards compatibility may be broken.
  • Minor versions change when functionality updates are made that are backwards compatible to the other minor releases.
  • Patch versions change when backwards-compatible bug fixes are made.

Aim to run the latest patch release of the minor version you're running. For example, your production cluster is on 1.17.7. 1.17.8 is the latest available patch version available for the 1.17 series. You should upgrade to 1.17.8 as soon as possible to ensure your cluster is fully patched and supported.

Kubernetes version support policy

AKS defines a generally available version as a version enabled in all SLO or SLA measurements and available in all regions. AKS supports three GA minor versions of Kubernetes:

  • The latest GA minor version that is released in AKS (which we'll refer to as N).
  • Two previous minor versions.
    • Each supported minor version also supports a maximum of two (2) stable patches.

AKS may also support preview versions, which are explicitly labeled and subject to Preview terms and conditions.

Note

AKS uses safe deployment practices which involve gradual region deployment. This means it may take up to 10 business days for a new release or a new version to be available in all regions.

The supported window of Kubernetes versions on AKS is known as "N-2": (N (Latest release) - 2 (minor versions)).

For example, if AKS introduces 1.17.a today, support is provided for the following versions:

New minor version Supported Version List
1.17.a 1.17.a, 1.17.b, 1.16.c, 1.16.d, 1.15.e, 1.15.f

Where ".letter" is representative of patch versions.

When a new minor version is introduced, the oldest minor version and patch releases supported are deprecated and removed. For example, the current supported version list is:

1.17.a
1.17.b
1.16.c
1.16.d
1.15.e
1.15.f

AKS releases 1.18.*, removing all the 1.15.* versions out of support in 30 days.

Note

If customers are running an unsupported Kubernetes version, they will be asked to upgrade when requesting support for the cluster. Clusters running unsupported Kubernetes releases are not covered by the AKS support policies.

In addition to the above, AKS supports a maximum of two patch releases of a given minor version. So given the following supported versions:

Current Supported Version List
------------------------------
1.17.8, 1.17.7, 1.16.10, 1.16.9

If AKS releases 1.17.9 and 1.16.11, the oldest patch versions are deprecated and removed, and the supported version list becomes:

New Supported Version List
----------------------
1.17.*9*, 1.17.*8*, 1.16.*11*, 1.16.*10*

Supported kubectl versions

You can use one minor version older or newer of kubectl relative to your kube-apiserver version, consistent with the Kubernetes support policy for kubectl.

For example, if your kube-apiserver is at 1.17, then you can use versions 1.16 to 1.18 of kubectl with that kube-apiserver.

To install or update kubectl to the latest version, run:

az aks install-cli

Release and deprecation process

You can reference upcoming version releases and deprecations on the AKS Kubernetes Release Calendar.

For new minor versions of Kubernetes:

  • AKS publishes a pre-announcement with the planned date of a new version release and respective old version deprecation on the AKS Release notes at least 30 days prior to removal.

  • AKS uses Azure Advisor to alert users if a new version will cause issues in their cluster because of deprecated APIs. Azure Advisor is also used to alert the user if they are currently out of support.

  • AKS publishes a service health notification available to all users with AKS and portal access, and sends an email to the subscription administrators with the planned version removal dates.

    Note

    To find out who is your subscription administrators or to change it, please refer to manage Azure subscriptions.

  • Users have 30 days from version removal to upgrade to a supported minor version release to continue receiving support.

For new patch versions of Kubernetes:

  • Because of the urgent nature of patch versions, they can be introduced into the service as they become available.
  • In general, AKS does not broadly communicate the release of new patch versions. However, AKS constantly monitors and validates available CVE patches to support them in AKS in a timely manner. If a critical patch is found or user action is required, AKS will notify users to upgrade to the newly available patch.
  • Users have 30 days from a patch release's removal from AKS to upgrade into a supported patch and continue receiving support.

Supported versions policy exceptions

AKS reserves the right to add or remove new/existing versions with one or more critical production-impacting bugs or security issues without advance notice.

Specific patch releases may be skipped or rollout accelerated, depending on the severity of the bug or security issue.

Azure portal and CLI versions

When you deploy an AKS cluster in the portal, with the Azure CLI, or with Azure PowerShell, the cluster defaults to the N-1 minor version and latest patch. For example, if AKS supports 1.17.a, 1.17.b, 1.16.c, 1.16.d, 1.15.e, and 1.15.f, the default version selected is 1.16.c.

To find out what versions are currently available for your subscription and region, use the az aks get-versions command. The following example lists the available Kubernetes versions for the EastUS region:

az aks get-versions --location eastus --output table

AKS Kubernetes Release Calendar

For the past release history, see Kubernetes.

K8s version Upstream release AKS preview AKS GA End of life
1.19 Aug-04-20 Sep 2020 Nov 2020 1.22 GA
1.20 Dec-08-20 Jan 2021 Mar 2021 1.23 GA
1.21 Apr-08-21 May 2021 Jul 2021 1.24 GA
1.22 Aug-04-21 Sept 2021 Oct 2021 1.25 GA
1.23 Dec 2021 Jan 2022 Feb 2022 1.26 GA

FAQ

How does Microsoft notify me of new Kubernetes versions?

The AKS team publishes pre-announcements with planned dates of the new Kubernetes versions in our documentation, our GitHub as well as emails to subscription administrators who own clusters that are going to fall out of support. In addition to announcements, AKS also uses Azure Advisor to notify the customer inside the Azure portal to alert users if they are out of support, as well as alerting them of deprecated APIs that will affect their application or development process.

How often should I expect to upgrade Kubernetes versions to stay in support?

Starting with Kubernetes 1.19, the open source community has expanded support to 1 year. AKS commits to enabling patches and support matching the upstream commitments. For AKS clusters on 1.19 and greater, you will be able to upgrade at a minimum of once a year to stay on a supported version.

What happens when a user upgrades a Kubernetes cluster with a minor version that isn't supported?

If you're on the n-3 version or older, it means you're outside of support and will be asked to upgrade. When your upgrade from version n-3 to n-2 succeeds, you're back within our support policies. For example:

  • If the oldest supported AKS version is 1.15.a and you are on 1.14.b or older, you're outside of support.
  • When you successfully upgrade from 1.14.b to 1.15.a or higher, you're back within our support policies.

Downgrades are not supported.

What does 'Outside of Support' mean

'Outside of Support' means that:

  • The version you're running is outside of the supported versions list.
  • You'll be asked to upgrade the cluster to a supported version when requesting support, unless you're within the 30-day grace period after version deprecation.

Additionally, AKS doesn't make any runtime or other guarantees for clusters outside of the supported versions list.

What happens when a user scales a Kubernetes cluster with a minor version that isn't supported?

For minor versions not supported by AKS, scaling in or out should continue to work. Since there are no Quality of Service guarantees, we recommend upgrading to bring your cluster back into support.

Can a user stay on a Kubernetes version forever?

If a cluster has been out of support for more than three (3) minor versions and has been found to carry security risks, Azure proactively contacts you to upgrade your cluster. If you do not take further action, Azure reserves the right to automatically upgrade your cluster on your behalf.

What version does the control plane support if the node pool is not in one of the supported AKS versions?

The control plane must be within a window of versions from all node pools. For details on upgrading the control plane or node pools, visit documentation on upgrading node pools.

Can I skip multiple AKS versions during cluster upgrade?

When you upgrade a supported AKS cluster, Kubernetes minor versions cannot be skipped. For example, upgrades between:

  • 1.12.x -> 1.13.x: allowed.
  • 1.13.x -> 1.14.x: allowed.
  • 1.12.x -> 1.14.x: not allowed.

To upgrade from 1.12.x -> 1.14.x:

  1. Upgrade from 1.12.x -> 1.13.x.
  2. Upgrade from 1.13.x -> 1.14.x.

Skipping multiple versions can only be done when upgrading from an unsupported version back into a supported version. For example, you can upgrade from an unsupported 1.10.x to a supported 1.15.x.

Can I create a new 1.xx.x cluster during its 30 day support window?

No. Once a version is deprecated/removed, you cannot create a cluster with that version. As the change rolls out, you will start to see the old version removed from your version list. This process may take up to two weeks from announcement, progressively by region.

I am on a freshly deprecated version, can I still add new node pools? Or will I have to upgrade?

No. You will not be allowed to add node pools of the deprecated version to your cluster. You can add node pools of a new version. However, this may require you to update the control plane first.

Next steps

For information on how to upgrade your cluster, see Upgrade an Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) cluster.