Well, hopefully you like Windows 10, because soon you won’t be able to buy a new PC that supports any other version of Windows.
Supposedly, Microsoft is “clarifying” its Windows support policy, but completely changing it might be another interpretation if you were inclined to believe official Windows lifecycle dates.
“Going forward, as new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support,” Microsoft’s Terry Myerson wrote on the Windows blog. “Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform on Intel’s upcoming ‘Kaby Lake’ silicon, Qualcomm’s upcoming ‘8996’ silicon, and AMD’s upcoming ‘Bristol Ridge’ silicon.”
So, what’s up with the huge change? Well apparently running Windows 7 on newer hardware is too difficult of a task for Microsoft’s hardware partners. Myerson said, “Windows 7 was designed nearly 10 years ago before any x86/x64 SOCs existed. For Windows 7 to run on any modern silicon, device drivers and firmware need to emulate Windows 7’s expectations for interrupt processing, bus support, and power states- which is challenging for WiFi, graphics, security, and more. As partners make customizations to legacy device drivers, services, and firmware settings, customers are likely to see regressions with Windows 7 ongoing servicing.”
That’s not to say Microsoft won’t still support its older OSes on older hardware, but if you upgrade your PC and think you can still run Windows 7, then you will be deeply disappointed. Myerson explained, “Windows 7 will continue to be supported for security, reliability, and compatibility through January 14, 2020 on previous generation silicon. Windows 8.1 will receive the same support through January 10, 2023. This includes most of the devices available for purchase today by consumers or enterprises.”
Intel is first in line to stop supporting older versions of Windows running on machines with Skylake, its sixth-generation processors. Microsoft announced:
Through July 17, 2017, Skylake devices on the supported list will also be supported with Windows 7 and 8.1. During the 18-month support period, these systems should be upgraded to Windows 10 to continue receiving support after the period ends. After July 2017, the most critical Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 security updates will be addressed for these configurations, and will be released if the update does not risk the reliability or compatibility of the Windows 7/8.1 platform on other devices.
What approved devices with Skylake will continue to support Windows 7 or 8.1 for the next 18 months? Microsoft said it will announce the list this week, but told PC World’s Mark Hachman the approved PCs include: “Dell Latitude 12, Dell Latitude 13 7000 Ultrabook, Dell XPS 13, HP EliteBook Folio, HP EliteBook 1040 G3, Lenovo ThinkPad T460s, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, and Lenovo ThinkPad P70.”
In order to clarify its new policy swap, Microsoft said it is “prioritizing transparency with enterprises on where to find the highest reliability and best supported Windows experience: Windows 10 on any silicon, Windows 7 on the down-level silicon it was designed for, or a device on the support list.” Businesses of all sizes were urged to contact a Windows 10 tech rep today.