Microsoft ends updates for Windows 7/8.1 on new processors

If you want to run Kaby Lake, you must use Windows 10

Microsoft ends updates for Windows 7/8.1 on new processors
Thinkstock

As it promised, Microsoft has stopped issuing updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users whose PCs run Intel's seventh-generation processors (codename Kaby Lake), AMD's seventh-generation processors (Bristol Ridge), and Qualcomm's 8996 processor or newer. It's also likely that AMD's new Ryzen processor is included in that list. Bristol Ridge is a slightly older processor made on an older core design.

Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended on January 2015, but extended support—in other words, patches—is supposed to continue until January 2020. Support for Windows 8.1 runs through next year and support ends in 2023. 

However, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs running these new CPUs will not scan for updates or download them from Windows Update. Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users with new processors who run the Windows Update tool get one of two messages. The first is straightforward: 

Unsupported Hardware [...] Your PC uses a processor that isn’t supported on this version of Windows and you won’t receive updates.

The second message isn't quite as clear: 

Windows could not search for new updates
An error occurred while checking for new updates for your computer.
Error(s) found:
Code 80240037 Windows Update encountered an unknown error. 

A support article to explain the error code tells the reader that their CPU is not supported: "Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 devices that have a seventh-generation or a later generation processor may no longer be able to scan or download updates through Windows Update or Microsoft Update." 

This isn't a surprise—if you've paid attention. Microsoft first announced in January 2016 that it would support only new silicon with Windows 10 and older operating systems would be restricted to older processors. After a little blowback, it said it would support Skylake up to mid-2018, but Kaby Lake, Ryzen and Bristol Ridge are newer. And they said as much:

For example, 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.

The question now becomes how many Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users are affected. If you are running a Kaby Lake, Ryzen or Bristol Ridge CPU, either it came with a new PC or you built it. If it was the former, then Windows 10 was installed. If it's the latter, chances are you built the system and did you really put an 8-year-old OS on a brand new PC?

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10