The clock is ticking for users holding out on Windows 7 and 8. For starters, Microsoft is blocking Windows 7 and 8 updates for Intel's seventh generation Core i3, i5 and i7 (Kaby Lake), AMD's Ryzen (Bristol Ridge) and Qualcomm's 8996 processors. The low-level Vulkan API will also not be supporting multiple GPUs on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and users will need to update to Windows 10 in order to support SLI or CrossFire with Vulkan.
Microsoft’s main argument is that this lack of updates will help them to focus on the deep integration between Windows and new silicon generations. Windows 7 was designed nearly a decade ago before the introduction of x86/x64 SOCs. Windows 7 is unable to run on any modern silicon without device drivers and firmware emulating Windows 7’s expectations for interrupt processing, bus support, and power states. According to Microsoft, “redesigning Windows 7 subsystems to embrace new generations of silicon would introduce churn into the Windows 7 code base” and break the company's commitment to security and stability.
This lack of support has many Windows users riled up, especially since Microsoft has employed some rather aggressive practices in the past to push Windows 10 migrations and updates. Many already on Windows 10 have also expressed concerns about the operating system switching background updates on, even on metered connections, or other less than optimal scenarios considerate of the end user.
What is Microsoft’s timeline? Windows 7 is in “extended support” until January 14th, 2020, while Windows 8 support ends in January 10th, 2023. Intel Skylake (6th gen Core) devices on the supported list will hang onto Windows 7 and 8 until July 17th, 2017. According to Microsoft, “After July 2017, the most critical Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 security updates will be addressed for these configurations, and will be released if the update does not risk the reliability or compatibility of the Windows 7/8.1 platform on other devices.” Support for Windows Vista will come to an end on April 11th, because, in Redmond's words “your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.” Overall, Microsoft encourages users to update to Windows 10 before support ends for its previous generation operating systems. Unfortunately, for many that haven't made the jump to Windows 10 yet, time is running out and Microsoft may well be forcing the issue sooner rather than later.
by Brittany Goetting
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