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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  • inighthawki - Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - link

    I can see three reasons on my own (he may be thinking of others as well):

    1) Some people create extra accounts to farm in certain games. I had a friend who created multiple accounts so he could idle in TF2 to get free items. I'm guessing other games may have similar concepts (limited number/rate of rewards while playing)

    2) Some people, especially those who play very seldomly, might forget their account details and find it easier to just create a new account if they owned few or no games on the previous account. I know two people who have done this.

    3) People may create fake/alt accounts to either get around bans or stats in a game. Getting banned in a free to play game means just making a new account. I've also seen some really good players who have high ratings in games like dota who create new accounts to fake their statistics (make themselves look really bad) to get placed in lower tier skill brackets and do pub stomps.

    I'm not sure how much all of those accounts make up though. Almost everyone I know has only a single account, but the people who do this tend to have many.
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - link

    Those are all terrible reasons and 1) and 3) are probably against their TOS on top of being just incredibly lame. 2) is terrible because you're throwing away whatever you DID own, plus it's really not hard to recover your account if it was ever really yours. Unless you really suck at "teh interwebs". Regardless, I would disagree that the average user has 2 accounts.
  • masouth - Thursday, January 21, 2016 - link

    While I would agree that 1 & 3 are typically lame and may violate TOS, the question asked wasn't one of ethics or morality but of why people create alternate accounts. All 3 of those are very real reasons that it happens no matter how lame, terrible, or unbelievable that you may find it to be.

    Your reasoning for for 2 being terrible is a bit specious. He already explained " if they owned few or no games" and that he knows people that have done that. I also know people as well. They only had free or super cheap games, lost access to the email, and just didn't care enough with the bother of trying to actually reach someone at a phone support line without running into hold, communication, or lack of ability to resolve it issues. It was just easier to create a new account and no big loss. Please don't equate being a Steam user to being a hardcore gamer, having a massive game library, owning "expensive" games, having good financial sense, or that Steam even requires ownership of a single game to have an account. There are quite a few casual gamers on Steam (numbers wise, not necessarily percentage of membership wise)

    All that said, I would also disagree that the average user has 2 accounts. While I have seen all 3 of those reasons they are hardly the majority or average.
  • Notmyusualid - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    I actually think this hardware obselesence was quite a clever idea from Micro$oft... though I do not support it whatsoever.

    I can imagine the meetings of the 'what and whys', when they struggled to get people off of XP, in how to best secure their continued future income on new OS licenses.

    They are throwing the customer 'under the bus' so as to get everyone running their 'Store'. That is really what is going on here.

    But regardless, you'll have to pry my Win 7 from my cold dead hands.

    And I care not a jot, what anyone thinks of that.

    I've advised all my clients to avoid the spyware, that is known as Windows 10. Once you explain the keylogger to them, or the uploading of their private 'contacts' to Redmond, they are both shocked and fully in agreement.

    Having said that - the Win 8.1 Pro that shipped with my machine (that I've never used - I own a Retail Win 7 Pro), will be installed and upgraded to Win 10 before the free upgrade year is up - ONLY so the machine will have a valid Win 10 license when I sell it on (yes the masses are stupid).

    My Win 7, (should it still work) will follow me to my next machine... and if not, well its hard to say, but increasingly there are other 'options', but not without caveats I must add.
  • Murloc - Saturday, January 16, 2016 - link

    you can always use linux and keep windows installed as a secondary OS in order to run those programs.

    Honestly I don't quite get if the older OSes will just not support the new CPU features, or if they won't work at all on new machines.
  • haukionkannel - Sunday, January 17, 2016 - link

    Only new features. The new processors will work just fine, you only lose new features, just like wi did lose DX12, if not using win10. So there is nothing to worry about!
  • HollyDOL - Saturday, January 16, 2016 - link

    Not being advocate for Microsoft, but check out other providers for services you use every day. Sometimes you'll be suprised what you signed for.
  • Alexvrb - Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - link

    WHAT keylogger? Uploading contacts to Redmond? You mean like how almost every modern OS backs up contacts and whatnot to the cloud?? You're just another one spreading FUD. Next you'll be telling us that you're a leet h4xor security researcher and you provedz0red it with your script kiddie tools that don't actually show anything.
  • BrokenCrayons - Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - link

    This is one thing that hasn't been, as far as I know, a capability included in the final builds of Windows 10. It's an implied feature of the Windows 10 tech previews that people that participate in the Insider program are potentially asked to deal with while being voluntary testers. Here's a link to a Register article that articulates that fact:

    Scroll down in there and you'll see where the author quotes the line from Microsoft about collecting individual characters collected.

    Once again, I don't know if this applies to non-tech preview versions of Windows 10.
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - link

    If there was a shade of truth to this oft-repeated HORSEPOO then all the REAL security researchers who are both legit and competent would be all over it. To put it mildly it's complete BULL and anyone that spreads this is either a troll or a disgusting tool.

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