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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  • slickr - Sunday, January 17, 2016 - link

    Please do not post articles from the WELL KNOWN MS shill Ed Bott. That guy would literally murder his family if it meant more positive MS coverage.
  • 10101010 - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    It doesn't matter what version of Windows 10 you run. Even the Enterprise edition is riddled with spyware that steals your data and uploads it to Microsoft.

    Moving to a Linux or BSD distribution seems to be getting more and more common. I see a lot more Linux laptops now than a year or two ago.
  • Reflex - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    Quickly warn everyone on your G+ and Facebook accounts about Microsoft's privacy violations!
  • Arnulf - Saturday, January 16, 2016 - link

    I don't have a Facebook or G+ account.
  • inighthawki - Sunday, January 17, 2016 - link

    I hope you're running only fully open source software that you've manually verified for no telemetry, then. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but almost every piece of modern software, and even most dating back for at least about 10 years or so, collects telemetry data on how the software is being used. This includes all modern versions of Windows, OSX, iOS, Android, and most third party software and video games too.
  • Reflex - Monday, January 18, 2016 - link

    In my current position I work extensively on Android and iOS. Telemetry data is industry standard at this point, both at the OS and app level. Even some Linux distros do it to a limited extent. If anything, MS is leading by actually disclosing what they are doing, at least better than others. Good luck getting Google to tell you everything they are gathering from your phone, or what its being used for.
  • Michael Bay - Saturday, January 16, 2016 - link

    Tired childish standby of IMMA SWITCH TO LOONIX DIS TIEM FO SHO always dies after first contact with said loonix.
  • WhisperingEye - Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - link

    Lol. True. I couldn't even get Java installed in Linux Mint, following online instructions. Probably because the version it was talking about, and the version I had installed had completely different 'rules'.
  • BrokenCrayons - Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - link

    My first contact with Linux was Mandrake in 1999. I moved to Slackware in 2001 and I presently prefer using Mint. Linux has been my primary OS for a long time. I still have a Windows system at my disposal, but it's generally relegated to secondary roles and goes months without being turned on. It was NOT a fun or easy transition to make and in the late 90's the Linux community was pretty unhelpful. RTFM-style responses in various Linus communities were distressingly commonplace.

    The good news is that things have changed for the better. A modern distro like Ubuntu or Mint can get a user with no experience access to basic computing capabilities in a matter of minutes. Installation which used to be quite a pain is a lot easier thanks to the collapse of the industry into a few hardware manufacturers on predictable release cycles that generally release Linux drivers for their products. And most importantly, the Linux community has toned down it's rhetoric, elitism, and toxic attitude as an influx of new users have brought it a lot of new attention as a viable alternative. If I were switching over now to a major distro, things would be a lot easier. Yes, there's still some learning to do, but I'd say about as much as one would have moving from 7 to 10. There are still a few limitations as well, but even the last bastion of Windows, gaming, isn't such a problem these days. Steam has many thousands of titles that run under Linux (around the middle of last year when I last checked numbers, there were 2,700 some games that ran natively under Linux there) and that number was on the rising portion of a curve so I'd imagine the number is larger now. Other functionality is pretty much spot on except that GIMP is a terrible image editing suite that's positively a nightmare to learn.
  • cygnus1 - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    I think I'm fine with this. It just means they're not writing updates for the older OS HAL as new hardware comes out. I think if anybody should be mad, it should be Intel. You're going to see a lot of companies buying less and less current gen hardware if the their internally standardized OS (Win7) won't run on it.

    This could also bite MS in the ass in another way, I think it makes it easier for companies to consider other OS's. If they know they have to switch OS when buying new hardware, why not try out other non-Windows OS's...

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