Microsoft today announced updates to its support policy for Windows on certain types of computer processors. The changes show Microsoft wanting Windows 10 to be running on the latest silicon.
The news is particularly important to Microsoft’s longtime partner Intel. The 14-nanometer Intel Core sixth-generation chips codenamed Skylake first showed up on the market last year, and the launch has propelled Intel financially.
But many large companies want to keep running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, and Microsoft wants to support those operating systems for some devices coming out with Skylake. Microsoft is now preparing a list of certain new devices with Intel Skylake chips that it will support for when they’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 — but not forever, as Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, explained in a blog post today. The idea is that companies will then upgrade their Skylake devices to Windows 10.
“Through July 17, 2017, Skylake devices on the supported list will also be supported with Windows 7 and 8.1,” Myerson wrote. “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.”
Why is this happening? Well, for one thing, Microsoft believes Skylake and Windows 10 are a great couple.
“Compared to Windows 7 PCs, Skylake when combined with Windows 10, enables up to 30x better graphics and 3x the battery life — with the unmatched security of Credential Guard utilizing silicon supported virtualization,” Myerson wrote.
Of course, there will be future chip architectures from Intel. But Windows 10 “will be the only supported Windows platform on Intel’s upcoming ‘Kaby Lake’ silicon,” Myerson wrote. The same goes for Qualcomm’s 8996 and AMD’s Bristol Ridge.
See the full blog post for more detail on the changes.
Update on January 22: Microsoft today posted a website with links to lists of more than 100 Intel Skylake devices it will support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 through July 17, 2017. Currently there are products from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and NEC; links to devices from other vendors will be provided in the future. Microsoft writes on the new website that these devices should be “upgraded to Windows 10 as soon as possible.”
Update on March 18: Microsoft today announced a one-year extension to the period during which it will support Skylake devices on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Now the end date is July 17, 2018, according to a blog post. Additionally, all critical security updates will be made available to Skylake devices on Windows 7 until January 14, 2020, and on Windows 8.1 until January 10, 2023.