Microsoft has long been the bastion of long term support for older platforms, so today’s support news out of Redmond is particularly surprising. Intel launched its 6th generation Skylake cores back in August, and support on Windows 7 has been not as strong as Windows 10 right out of the gate. It’s not terribly strange that new features like Intel’s Speed Shift will not be coming to Windows 7, but today Microsoft announced that going forward, new processors will only be supported on Windows 10. Skylake will only be supported through devices on a supported list, and even those will only have support until July 2017.

For the average consumer buying a new PC, this is not a huge issue. Generally, consumers buy a PC and use the operating system that it comes with. That is going to be Windows 10. But the enterprise schedule is often much more drawn out when it comes to desktop operating system support. Windows XP was the most famous example of this, with businesses clinging to it well past its best before date, because Windows Vista and newer versions of the operating system significantly changed the system rights and driver models, rendering older programs incompatible.

The move to Windows 7 was very drawn out, so perhaps Microsoft is trying to avoid this again in the future, but moving an enterprise to a new desktop OS can bring a lot of testing requirements, training, and back-end infrastructure updates which are all non-trivial. Microsoft has made its name in the enterprise by being generous with support lifetimes, and I think what is most troubling about today’s news is that Windows 7 has long-term support until January 14, 2020, and Windows 8.1 until January 10, 2023. News like this is going to catch a lot of companies off-guard, since they would have been expecting to have at least until 2020 to migrate off of Windows 7, and many of these companies have just finally moved to Windows 7 after a decade or more on XP.

To give just 18 months with these support policies is likely not what companies want to hear. This doesn’t mean that Windows 7 will be end of life in July 2017, but if you can’t run it on new hardware, this is going to put a dent in device sales too. If companies are not ready to move to Windows 10, they may have to stick with older hardware.

This does not just affect Intel based machines either. According to the blog post by Terry Myerson, Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform for Kaby Lake (Intel’s next gen 14 nm processors), Snapdragon 820 (Qualcomm), and Carrizo (AMD).

Going forward, as new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support. This enables us to focus on deep integration between Windows and the silicon, while maintaining maximum reliability and compatibility with previous generations of platform and silicon. 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.

After July 2017, computers on the supported list that are still running Windows 7 will still get security updates, but any updates specific to that platform will not be released if it risks the reliability of other Windows 7 or 8.1 platforms.

To me, the oddest part of the announcement is who it is coming from. When Intel releases a new CPU, it is generally the motherboard makers working with Intel who provide the correct BIOS emulation modes and drivers for older versions of Windows. It’s somewhat odd that Microsoft is the one announcing this news rather than a company like Intel or AMD stating they won’t be supporting the older platform.

For those in the business world, this blog post may force you to reconsider your upgrade plans, or at least your hardware evergreen cycle. A full list of supported PCs for the 18-month period is supposed to be released next week.

Source: Windows Blog

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  • GTVic - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    Did you copy and paste this from the last Windows 10 article you commented on? This news is "bad" for Windows 8.1 and earlier only. Reply
  • looncraz - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    Which is the majority of PC users...

    I, for one, don't like any version of Windows after 7.
    Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    And I Sir, agree with you. Reply
  • jasonelmore - Saturday, January 16, 2016 - link

    I wouldn't say Majority.

    The Latest Steam Hardware Survey is out and Windows 10 and Windows 7 have the same usage rate, except Windows 10 is gaining 2% per month. There are roughly 10% using 8.1..

    I would say within 6 months, windows 10 adoption will be more than windows 7 and windows 8.1 combined.
    Reply
  • looncraz - Saturday, January 16, 2016 - link

    You do know the definition of majority, right? Steam isn't all-inclusive, either. Most people don't use steam at all and aren't included in the survey.

    Netmarketshare.com has a wonderful breakdown as of November 2015. Windows 10 is just under 10% of the market. Windows 7, alone, is just over 55% of the market.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - link

    I think if you narrow it down to systems running modern processors, it doesn't favor Win7 nearly so much. What OS all the billions of old clunkers run really doesn't have much relevance when talking about support for upcoming processors. Reply
  • kaidenshi - Saturday, January 16, 2016 - link

    One reason for Windows 10's growth among Steam users is native DX12 support. Granted, very few games right now utilize this, but gamers tend to be early adopters too. It's a skewed metric at best. Reply
  • slickr - Sunday, January 17, 2016 - link

    Steam has 160 million users, most of which are duplicates. I have 3 steam accounts, if your average user has 2 accounts on steam, that literally cuts their users base to 80 million. They also count ALL oft he steam accounts, so even accounts created say 8 years ago and never used after are still counted.

    Even so windows 10 is not particularly popular even among steam gamers. Overall win10 is not very popular at all and with all the spying and stuff I think it will be the last MS OS system that people adopt. I think once Linux OS start using DX12 equivalent with openGL or whatever and we get better performance we will see people start using Linux.
    Reply
  • twtech - Monday, January 18, 2016 - link

    It's not perf though that's been keeping people away from Linux as-is. Linux is still complex and unfamiliar.

    Want to see more adoption of Linux? Make it behave more like Windows.

    Don't want to do that? Then forget about the idea of it ever seeing mass-market adoption.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - link

    Why would you want multiple steam accounts, again? Reply

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