Microsoft slams the door on Windows 7

Way back in January Microsoft announced that it would only support Windows 10 on the latest versions of Intel, Qualcomm and AMD processors. This announcement passed without much comment as Microsoft “support” is seldom sought by the man in the street and because it was widely anticipated that there would be a lengthy grace period for businesses and consumers to adapt.

It’s not as if Windows 7 was going to suddenly stop working on newer hardware. Windows 7 is already in extended support which means that Microsoft is only providing security updates for the operating system (as opposed to feature updates). So, if you’d just built yourself a new PC but wanted to continue running Windows 7, then you could.

That was before KB4012218 and KB4012219 were released last month. These minor updates from Microsoft include the following comment in the description.

“Enabled detection of processor generation and hardware support when PC tries to scan or download updates through Windows Update.”

With one or both of these updates in place, Windows will now check the type of processor that you have when performing Windows updates. If you have the latest Intel Kaby Lake processor (7000 series) or Qualcomm 8996 / AMD’s Bristol range processors, then instead of Windows updates, this happens.

So if you have decided to stay with Windows 7 (or indeed Windows 8.1) but have a brand-new processor, you won’t get security updates for Windows, which is a complete disaster.

If you are able, you can uninstall KB4012218 and KB4012219 and try to block them from installation – though Microsoft has a habit of un-hiding updates and there’s nothing to say the same trick won’t be applied to future (new) updates.

The long and the short of it is that Microsoft doesn’t want to keep supporting Windows 7 on new hardware and to be fair there are a number of new technologies that just don’t work under 7. Equally, they want you to use Windows 10 and gave us all the opportunity to upgrade for free last year.

We encouraged our user community to move to Windows 10 during the free upgrade period and many did. Windows 10 has proved a stable and agile OS for those that have gone ahead with the change.

The last thing to note is that the update suggests that Microsoft will not support these new processors on “previous versions of the Windows operating system”. The “latest” operating system is currently Windows 10, but does this indicate a desire to keep all operating systems “current” in the same way that Office versions are upgraded automatically at each release. This is achieved for Office software by using a subscription model rather than a one-off purchase and perhaps that is the way Windows will be sold in future.