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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  • name99 - Saturday, March 19, 2016 - link

    "When you set out to take Vienna, TAKE Vienna"
    Microsoft has gone through so many reversals of policy that who in their right mind would trust their business to anything they say? Whatever you're relying on, it will probably be altered next year.

    Is the policy business first or consumers first?
    Are phones essential or a side issue?
    Is Windows 10 free forever or will never be free again?
    Is the goal that Windows is the "Always backwards compatible OS" or is it the "First with new features, first to match new usage models OS"?
  • doggface - Sunday, March 20, 2016 - link


    Business first. Always. Then Gaming, Mobile and Cloud are next.

    Phones are essential. They have made quite a few errors on this one. But with Win10 they just need to commit serious software resources and it will come good. Never going to beat Android or iOS. But should be good in enterprise. Remains to be seen if Nadella fixes this though.

    WIN 10 is not free. You still need to buy a license for every machine. The upgrade is free for the first year after that, probably an upgrade fee.

    It is backwards compatible AND first with some new features. Second with others.
  • name99 - Sunday, March 20, 2016 - link

    You're missing the point. I actually agree with your answers; the point is that these are NOT the messages MS sends out. The message of Win8+Metro was that shininess was more important than backwards compatibility, and that consumer was more important than enterprise. The message from Win Phone 7.8 (and the constant delay and uncertainty in feature set of Win Phone 10) is that phones are unimportant.

    This Skylake about face is more of the same --- the company seems incapable of sending a coherent message because it appears to have no idea what that message IS. Satya may have a coherent plan, but he also seems to be head of an organization that continues to tolerate massive deviations from the global strategy at the lower levels. (The most obvious example of this, of course, being the whole .NET clusterfsck.)

    There's a reason that xkcd image for MS org char was multiple guns pointing at each other. And nothing seems to have changed since the cartoon was drawn:
  • Ascaris - Saturday, March 19, 2016 - link

    "Pray they don’t alter it any further."

    I used that same quote in reference to Microsoft's actions not long ago.
  • just4U - Saturday, March 19, 2016 - link

    Didn't Darth Vader also use that quote?.. or something very very similar.
  • Holliday75 - Monday, March 21, 2016 - link

    Yes, that was a reference to Star Wars. I doubt it was a coincidence.
  • icedeocampo - Sunday, March 20, 2016 - link

    Grammar / typo error on the end of 5th paragraph
  • BrokenCrayons - Monday, March 21, 2016 - link

    There's a simple solution to this. Just buy an AMD processor so you don't have to worry about having those pesky new features or annoying additional capabilities. You pay less and sure they're stuck on 28nm transistors for the moment ANNND you fell like you've crawled back into the bad old days of Soviet Russia-style computing where the entire experience is akin to being lined up and handed a bowl of mysterious, gray sludge as a meal, but you certainly don't have to worry at all about any cutting edge technologies that were implemented that the OS doesn't understand how to utilize.

    On a more serious note, I am rather surprised that Microsoft backed off from their earlier stance. Because the company is happily ramming telemetry down the throats of customers (something that you can stop at your perimeter firewall with some good ACLs, but was more of a pain in my sexy tush to implement than installing Linux) and forcing updates, upgrades, and being quite a nag when it comes to running anything older, I would have thought they were still in the business of doing what they did when Windows 8 was coming out. To paraphrase a line that came out of Microsoft very loosely, they were to, "stay the course and ignore what the world was saying" which worked out very well for them with Windows 8, as I recall.
  • Tunrip - Monday, March 21, 2016 - link

    "This deal is getting worse all the time..."
  • Ananke - Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - link

    With Win 10:
    I lost USB 3.0 on my Z68 chipset /external AsMedia chip/
    Recently all my PCs dropped common share on network due to "missing protocols" after Win 10 update.

    So far, not very promising :(. At least I paid almost nothing for 6 licences - a deal that not going to be repeated, from the Win 8 intro era. If I am to pay for Windows licences - one gaming PC at most, the rest is Mac laptops and iPhones. Dumb enough, they work, cost the same, and are resellable.

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