Microsoft has set a deadline for Windows 10 adoption, advising businesses to upgrade within the next 18 months following a change in its hardware support policy.
A move which will heighten channel interest, Redmond says that after July 17, 2017, 6th generation Intel Core Skylake processors and other nextgen CPUs will no longer be supported for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.
With Windows 10 now active on over 200 million devices around the world - six months since launching - the tech giant aims to build on the fastest growth trajectory of any version of Windows by altering support for its two older operating systems.
To assist customers during the Windows 10 upgrade, Microsoft will deliver a list of specific new Skylake devices it will support to run Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, in close consultation with its OEM partners.
“For the listed systems, along with our OEM partners, we will perform special testing to help future proof customers’ investments,” says Terry Myerson - Executive Vice President, Windows and Devices Group, Microsoft.
“This will ensure regular validation of Windows Updates with the intent of reducing potential regressions including security concerns, and ensure all drivers will be on Windows Update with published BIOS/UEFI upgrading tools, which will help unlock the security and power management benefits of Windows 10 once the systems are upgraded.
“We’re grateful to the strong cooperation from our partners to support our customers.”
Myerson says that through July 17, 2017, Skylake devices on the supported list will also be supported with Windows 7 and 8.1.
During the 18-month support period, these systems should be upgraded to Windows 10 to continue receiving support after the period ends.
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.
Windows 7 / Windows 8.1
With Windows 7 now in extended support, Myerson says Microsoft is focused on its commitment to deliver “security, reliability, and compatibility” to its installed base on their current systems.
“Redesigning Windows 7 subsystems to embrace new generations of silicon would introduce churn into the Windows 7 code base, and would break this commitment,” Myerson claims.
“Windows 7 was designed nearly 10 years ago before any x86/x64 SOCs existed. For Windows 7 to run on any modern silicon, device drivers and firmware need to emulate Windows 7’s expectations for interrupt processing, bus support, and power states- which is challenging for WiFi, graphics, security, and more.
“As partners make customisations to legacy device drivers, services, and firmware settings, customers are likely to see regressions with Windows 7 ongoing servicing.”
As a result, Windows 7 will continue to be supported for security, reliability, and compatibility through January 14, 2020 on previous generation silicon.
Meanwhile, Myerson says Windows 8.1 will receive the same support through January 10, 2023 - this includes most of the devices available for purchase today by consumers or enterprises.
“Going forward, as new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support,” Myerson adds.
“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.”
In clarifying this policy, Myerson says Microsoft is prioritising transparency with enterprises on where to find the “highest reliability and best supported” Windows experience.