In the future, Operating Systems and Processors will be more closely tied together. In other words, you may not be able to upgrade one without upgrading the other. Microsoft has announced significant changes to its long-term Operating System support model, and owners of systems which contain Intel Skylake processors will need to pay particular attention.
Until now, customers have had some freedom to combine an old operating system with much newer hardware. For example, Windows XP was sold was a preinstalled option until October 22, 2010 – nine years after it was first introduced.
Microsoft will no longer offer this kind of long-term support for previous operating systems, and Intel Skylake customers will be the first to be impacted by the change. According to Microsoft’s Terry Myerson, Windows 7 and 8.1 were designed long before modern x86 SoCs were built and it’s more difficult to create their drivers for the modern equivalents.
Microsoft promises to release a list of exactly which Intel Skylake products from specific OEMs will be supported on Windows 7 and 8.1 at some point this week. According to Myerson:
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 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.
Future Intel hardware will be Windows 10-Only. If you have older, pre-Skylake hardware, you’re free to continue using Windows 7 or 8.1 for as long as you like – but don’t count on ever upgrading your hardware if you want to keep your operating system.
Going forward, as new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at the 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. For example, Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform on Intel’s upcoming “Kaby Lake” silicon, Qualcomm’s upcoming “8996” silicon, and AMD’s upcoming “Bristol Ridge” silicon.
Microsoft, in other words, has no plans to support newer SoCs on older versions of Windows. Broadwell and Carrizo users won’t face the short 18-month support window that Skylake users are stuck with, but it looks like enterprise customers will no longer have the option (via Software Assurance) to downgrade to previous versions of Windows when purchasing new equipment.
How much will this matter? The big question here is how much “official support” actually means to the end-user. There’s no way to answer this until people start trying to use unsupported hardware on older operating systems, but my gut feeling is that it’s going to matter quite a bit.
If, for example, Intel and AMD don’t release Windows 7 / 8.1-compatible video drivers for their next-generation SoCs, users who buy those parts wouldn’t be able to use them with older operating systems. Now, extend that idea to USB 3.1 support, advanced power management, or any multi-threading changes that either company might introduce that required support from Microsoft. (Both Intel’s Hyper-Threading and AMD’s multi-threading approach with Bulldozer required service packs and patches in order to function at peak effectiveness.)
The trend is clear: Microsoft intends to move the entire Windows ecosystem to Windows 10, and those who prefer older OS versions will either have to make do with current hardware or switch to Apple or Linux.
Read Article (Joel Hruska | extremetech.com | 01/18/2016)
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