Microsoft to offer Windows 7 and 8.1 business support for limited number of Intel Skylake PCs

While a number of business and enterprise organizations are upgrading their PCs to Windows 10, Microsoft is also offerings customers who may not be ready to update a way to get new PCs with Intel's sixth-generation Skylake chips that can run on the older Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 operating systems.

Microsoft's Windows and Devices head Terry Myerson explained why Microsoft is making this move, stating that it knows many businesses continue to use Windows 7 based on its reliability and compatibility with older apps and systems:

"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 customizations to legacy device drivers, services, and firmware settings, customers are likely to see regressions with Windows 7 ongoing servicing."

Microsoft plans to release a list of PCs with Skylake processors that will officially support Windows 7 and 8.1 for those businesses:

"This approach ensures our customers can upgrade now to new devices their employees will love while preparing for a Windows 10 upgrade. We will post this list next week and it will continue to be updated as we work closely with our partners. For the listed systems, along with our OEM partners, we will perform special testing to help future proof customers' investments, 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 also offered an update on its support dates and policies for Windows 7, 8.1 and 10:

  • "Windows 7 will continue to be supported for security, reliability, and compatibility through January 14, 2020 on previous generation silicon. 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. 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.
  • 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.

Source: Microsoft

John Callaham