A recently published Knowledge Base article suggests that Microsoft is going to block Windows Updates for owners of the latest Intel and AMD processors if they try to run Windows 7 or 8.1.
Last year, Microsoft announced a shift in the way it would support Windows. Going forward, new processors, including Intel’s Kaby Lake and AMD’s recently-released Ryzen, would require the newest version of Windows. Users of Windows 7 and 8.1 would be out of luck, with Microsoft having no plans to support the new chips on the old operating systems.
Skylake was originally going to be included in this policy, too, but Microsoft partially relented, switching instead to a policy of providing only security fixes for Skylake systems running Windows 7 and 8.1. This makes no practical difference for Windows 7, since that is in extended support already. Software in extended support only receives security fixes, and Windows 7 will continue to do so until 2020. In principle it means that Windows 8.1 users might miss out. That operating system is in mainstream support until January 2018, and during mainstream support Microsoft can potentially deliver feature improvements and other non-security updates. In practice, this is unlikely; Windows 10 is the only operating system receiving any meaningful feature development now, with Windows 8.1 only likely to receive security fixes from now until its end of support in 2023 anyway.
Somewhat surprisingly, it looks as if Microsoft is going to actively enforce this restriction for Kaby Lake and Ryzen processors. Rather than mere benign neglect (not actively testing new patches on the new processors, but not stopping anyone from hitting Windows Update and installing them), the Knowledge Base article would suggest that Microsoft intends to implement a hard block, with Windows Update completely shutting out these new processors. This doesn’t seem to have taken effect just yet, and this week’s Patch Tuesday updates seem to download and work on Ryzen and Kaby Lake systems. The existence of the KB article, however, suggests that it’s only a matter of time before that changes.
Using Windows 7 on these latest systems is already awkward in many situations; the operating system has no built-in support for USB 3 or NVMe. While neither hurdle is insurmountable, both can cause headaches during installation. Installing on Windows 8.1, however, is relatively smooth sailing, and with Kaby Lake’s overwhelming similarity to Skylake, dropping support does feel rather unnecessary.
We’ve asked Microsoft for comment, but received no response as yet.