Back in January, Microsoft made a rather surprising announcement that it was changing the support model for older operating systems running on the latest Skylake hardware. As part of the announcement, going forward, the latest processors and chipsets would only be supported on the current version of Windows. As of now, and for the foreseeable future, that means new chips will only be supported on Windows 10.

This was a surprise because both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are still in their “extended support” phase, and generally that means the operating system is left as is, but security updates are done until the end of extended support. For businesses especially, many had just finished their Windows 7 upgrade and there was not necessarily a big push to start over again. But at the same time, workstations need to be replaced. As a slight reprieve, Microsoft said in January that they would provide a list of computers that would have support for Skylake until July 2017. Since then, the list has been made available here:

There was some ambiguity about the initial notification though. After July 2017, patches that are found to cause an issue with Skylake systems would be excluded from certain security patches. But what that meant exactly wasn’t stated. Today Microsoft has both extended the diary date for the end of support, as well as provided a bit more clarity on what will happen after.

First, the new end of support for the listed computers is now July 17, 2018. That is a one-year extension over the initial date. The initial 2017 date was so short that I’m sure Microsoft got some not so friendly responses from their largest enterprise customers who are most certainly going to have Skylake systems running Windows 7. July 2018 should be enough time for actual planning and testing to be done.

Second, all critical patches will be addressed for Skylake systems until the end of mainstream support for the operating system, which is January 2020 for Windows 7, and January 2023 for Windows 8.1. This clears up the odd wording previously announced, and means that if you have to continue running Windows 7 on the approved machines after July 2018, you won’t be left vulnerable to a security issue that is already patched.

What is not changing is the stance on future hardware. When the latest AMD and Intel processors are released, they will only be supported on Windows 10. But at least this policy is laid out ahead of time, instead of them changing the policy half way through support. Pray they don’t alter it any further.

There’s a big difference between something capable of running Windows 7 and something that is supported running Windows 7, especially when you have critical infrastructure. Future hardware may run just fine on Windows 7 if you can put up with issues like Ian had installing Windows 7 on a new Skylake system when he was forced to use an optical disk. For business, they likely want to stick to the supported methods unless they have ambitious IT departments.

Source: TechNet Blog


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  • HollyDOL - Saturday, March 19, 2016 - link

    I can understand why they push so much to it.
    1) It costs lots of resources to update old system (you need to pay devs, support etc.)
    2) Old code, no matter how clean could be when released, gets patched and patched over and is getting harder to maintain as it gets older
    3) Nobody wants to spend time on dying software, it's demotivating for developers, everybody wants to work on the new&cool
    so when MS pushes to W10 they are trying to slap many flies with one hit. And those above are just developers' point of view...
  • Arnulf - Saturday, March 19, 2016 - link

    They are still SELLING Windows 7.

    How f*cking difficult can it be to provide support for a product you are actively selling (not something that you have shelved years ago and moved on)?!?!
  • Spunjji - Saturday, March 19, 2016 - link

    Microsoft's not a monolithic entity. You can bet your bottom dollar that the people responsible for trying to cancel future-proofing support on 7 and 8.1 and the people responsible for 7 still being on sale are not the same people, or the same division. They are probably not even in the same building.

    The economic reality is that MS have to sell 7 whether they want to or not. If their customers had their own way, they would still be selling XP.
  • Arnulf - Saturday, March 19, 2016 - link

    Agreed 100%.

    And they should be providing support for their product (Windows 7) because they are still actively selling it - no ifs, no buts.
  • Samus - Saturday, March 19, 2016 - link

    They are supporting it, but they aren't obligated to add features to it that weren't originally included, such as kernel level optimizations for Skylake. This would be like ford upgrading every Sync vehicle to Sync 3. They really just want you to buy a new vehicle.
  • Ascaris - Saturday, March 19, 2016 - link

    But they're not talking about adding support for anything... they're talking about dropping the support they already have.
  • inighthawki - Saturday, March 19, 2016 - link

    "Support" in the sense of technical support for customers is different from the type of "servicing" support being referred to in the article. They are not getting rid of anything they've ever promised or dropping technical support. They are simply not servicing the OS with new features to take advantage of new features on some new hardware.
  • Notmyusualid - Sunday, March 20, 2016 - link

    Right on - and with the XP madness, we should legislate, and mandate software companies (who are providing entire operating systems) to support them for a reasonable amount of time.
  • BurntMyBacon - Monday, March 21, 2016 - link

    @Notmyusualid: "we should legislate, and mandate software companies (who are providing entire operating systems) to support them for a reasonable amount of time."

    YEAH!!! Like about 15 years for phones and tablets. Desktop and laptops get 30 years. Servers get 40 years. That way it will be in line with common loan terms in the United States (which is the legislative jurisdiction of Microsoft, Google, and Apple for the purpose presented).

    What's that? You don't think that is reasonable. Do you really think U.S. legislators have any idea what is reasonable? This is the kind of madness you'll get if you let people with no clue about technology make the decision.
  • Ascaris - Saturday, March 19, 2016 - link

    They created the problem for themselves by releasing new Windows versions every few years in order to keep people buying what they already had. They cost business untold man-hours in retraining for each "new and improved" version so that they could make the claim that it was something new that should be paid for (again) and not just an update to an older product (which they expect to get for free).

    MS profited from this model for a bunch of years, and supporting older versions was the trade-off. Now that they ruined that model by releasing a series of duds, people have gotten out of the habit of upgrading simply because a new product was available. So now that the need to support all of the many versions they created is all cost and no (future) profit, we're supposed to let them off the hook?

    All of Windows has old code. It's the NT code based, evolved and changed over the years, but it hasn't been rewritten from scratch at any point since the release of XP. Linux is the same way... it's patched and modified, but not rewritten.

    As for (3)... suck it up, guys; you're getting a paycheck. It may be more fun to work on "new and cool," but I'm not picking an OS based on what's fun for their programmers. It's more fun to add new features than to debug, too; debugging is drudgery, but it's necessary.

    You haven't hit on the real reason MS is pushing 10 so hard. They're afraid of becoming the next AOL, a former juggernaut in its category that failed to keep up with the times. They see the world switching to phones and tablets, and they don't have a credible entry in that market that is capable of standing toe-to-toe with Apple and Google. Windows 8 was the first attempt to use their desktop near-monopoly to make up for lost ground and force a credible app store into being. By making the desktop OS app-centric, it was supposed to entice devs to write Windows Phone apps that also happened to work on PCs, so those devs would not have to worry that they were wasting their time developing for a platform with no customers. That's why 8 was regarded by many as a mess for desktop PCs... it was never really about them. It was about the mobiles.

    MS miscalculated how much "mobile" people would tolerate in their desktop PC environments, and 8 never sold well. It never became the dominant OS, and even after MS released 8.1, it was clear that it never would. In order to convince devs that they should write phone apps, though, it has to be the dominant version of Windows, or else anyone would see that writing a Metro app is going to reach less potential customers than a Win32 one, which will still work on 7 (and XP, if they wanted it to).

    10 was a second attempt at that, but "Now with more desperation!" Two years after the release of 8, MS was no closer to having a credible mobile app store than before. They dialed back the mobile, made it superficially more like 7, and released it again... but they could not take the chance that it would not take the world by storm. It's imperative to their business model that it does just that. A worthy successor to XP and 7 was never in the cards-- it was only going to be as much "desktop" as was required to get people into the pool of potential Metro (now UWP) app customers. Thus, the free upgrade to 10 was born.

    The failure with 8 had revealed that releasing a new Windows version each few years was no longer working in the post-Vista era. Vista was not just a one-time misstep; two failed Windows versions was a pattern. So thus was born the "Windows as a service," and all of the negatives that come along with that, like the forced upgrades. There was no reason the sudden push to slurp massive customer data had to go along with that model changeover, but what better time to do it would there be? It could be passed off as necessary for Cortana or as part of how they are now "servicing" us customers.

    So that's the story of why MS is pushing so hard. They want all of us desktop users on 10, because they don't care about desktop users anymore. 7 won't help sales of Windows mobile devices, so it's no good to MS anymore. 8 won't either, since they (again) changed the format and APIs of the apps, and it's all about UWP now, not Metro.

    Sorry to disappoint you, MS, but I'm not "upgrading" to an inferior product so that you can use me to try to catapult your way into another market.

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