As part of its Windows 10 push, Microsoft declared it will end support for Windows 7 and 8.1 on Skylake processors, on July 17, 2017, three years before the official end of support for Windows 7. This ruffled a few feathers when it was first announced, and now it's drawn the ire of Microsoft's biggest OEM.
The Chinese hardware giant – made so in part because it bought IBM's PC business – has expressed concern that not everyone wants Windows 10, and it has said it wants extended support for Skylake-based systems.
The UK site Channelnomics.com quotes Adrienne Mueller, North America ThinkPad sales enablement and product manager at Lenovo, on a recent conference call with business partners as saying that several of its customers have not thought about transition to Windows 10 yet. The call was supposed to be a private one but apparently the Channelnomics reporter got on. It also explains Mueller's candor.
"The thought here is that Microsoft is really just pushing customers to move to Windows 10. A lot of reactions from our customers…is can we influence Microsoft and tell them they’re not ready to transition and try to get them to prolong support on that? We’ve tried, and Microsoft’s not really willing to do that.
"This is really important because traditionally, Microsoft has supported their product for many years, and this is kind of a shorter window for customers, especially because a lot of our customers are still using Windows 7. They haven’t even thought about transition to Windows 10."
Mueller goes on to say customers are asking them to tell Microsoft they're not ready to transition and try to get them to prolong support on Windows 7. "We've tried, and Microsoft's not really willing to do that," she said.
Since Microsoft will support Windows 7 on Broadwell and Haswell through January 2020, customers are asking for products based on those older processors. However, supplies on those processors are limited, and they are about to run out of supply of Haswell, since it wasn't Lenovo's intention to keep buying the older processors in large quantity. Given the rotten state of PC sales, something tells me Intel has a few extra Haswells to sell.
I have to suspect that HP and Dell are also facing the same issue. Now that it's in the open, Microsoft might find it harder to resist, especially if the three OEMs link arms and stand together on this.
There is no reason for Microsoft to end the support early other than to drive Windows 10 adoption. And while enterprises have a high rate of interest in Windows 10, there are still many that are not ready to move for whatever reason, and their hand should not be forced.
Neither side wants to be the first to blink. It will be interesting to see who gives in.