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article imageMicrosoft: Windows 7, 8.1 won't support Intel's new processors

By James Walker     Jan 16, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft has found yet another way to get the world using Windows 10, this time by making preventing users from running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on newer computers. It announced the old operating systems won't be supported by new processors.
Microsoft claims to be "embracing silicon innovation" by restricting upcoming CPU architectures to Windows 10 only. In effect, the company is preventing people from running Windows 7 and 8.1 on new machines though, a decision that is likely to affect business customers more than general consumers.
In a blog post, Microsoft announced that Windows 7 and 8.1 will not support upcoming processor architectures. Systems powered by CPUs developed in 2016, such as Intel's upcoming Kaby Lake series and AMD's Bristol Ridge, will require Windows 10 to operate correctly.
Microsoft said: "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."
The company wants to be able to rely on a system's processor supporting the latest Windows features when developing the operating system. This requires the CPU to focus itself on one platform, creating a deeper link between hardware and software.
With that in mind, Intel Skylake-based computers currently running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will now have an early official end of support on July 17, 2017. After that date, only "critical" security fixes will be issued, without a guarantee they're fully compatible with the system.
Microsoft advises Skylake systems be upgraded to Windows 10 within the 18 months. Processor ranges launched in 2016 won't be supported by Windows 7 or 8.1 at all.
Microsoft will be providing some support for new processors on older Windows versions. It is going to create a list of specific current-generation Skylake devices that will retain support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 until July 17th 2017. The deadline ends three years before the official end of Windows 7 support on January 14, 2020, and six years before the end of Windows 8.1's life on January 10, 2023, though.
Microsoft says it remains committed to Windows 7 and 8.1 but is also conscious that Windows 7 was designed nearly ten years ago when processors looked very different to how they do today. It explains that increasingly Windows 7 can't run on new systems without special drivers due to the aging operating system's dependence on hardware operating as it expects.
It highlights the case of Intel's latest Skylake-generation processors. Microsoft claims Skylake offers up to 30x better graphics and 3x greater battery life compared to Windows 7 when running on Windows 10. Going forward, the gap is likely to widen with every new CPU architecture.
Microsoft clearly wants more people including businesses to run Windows 10 but this announcement is more important than it may initially seem. The company is trying to avoid a repeat of its Windows XP debacle so it doesn't have to keep on supporting old operating systems for years past their sell-by date.
Windows 7 is still popular with consumers but is beginning to age rapidly. The OS will be seven years old this year and PC hardware has moved on considerably since then. Microsoft wants to look to the future rather than keep having to go back to the past, warning customers in advance so they know what to expect.
More about Windows, windows 10, Microsoft, Intel, Processor
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