Intel's Pentium III CPUs are getting are dinosaurs at this point, and it looks like their time is finally coming to an end – for Windows 7 at least. As initially discovered by ZDNet (via OnMSFT), Microsoft is seemingly dropping support for Windows 7 on PCs still running the aging line of CPUs.
The reason for the move comes down to one particular technology for which Pentium III chips lack support: Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 (SSE2) and its successors. SSE2 is a set of instructions that allows multimedia to be processed in parallel, giving a boost to performance. The feature first debuted with the Pentium 4, but was later promulgated to every mainstream processor.
The issue first reared its head in the March 2018 Patch Tuesday update (opens in new tab) for Windows 7, which included the following known issue:
While the initial wording of the known issue indicated Microsoft was working on a resolution, the text has since been updated to say:
And though Windows 7 is set to remain supported through 2020, the move lines up with Microsoft's stated policy on security updates. From Microsoft (opens in new tab):
The first Pentium III chips first hit the market in 1999, so it's not surprising that the hardware may be on its last legs from a support standpoint. And as ZDNet points out, it's likely that the necessary updates to mitigate the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities disclosed earlier this year played a role here as well.
Still, given the Pentium III's age, you're much better off to get your hands on a newer PC with more modern hardware if you're still holding onto Windows 7 as your daily driver.
Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to email@example.com.
Who would still be using a Pentium III in 2018? That CPU came out when I was in middle school (and I'm 32) lol.
Embedded systems (e.g. those one in stores, mall directory displays, airport check-in counters connected to mainframes, signalling manager at train stations etc). Definitely not consumer PCs.
Please don't be using a Pentium 3.
Friends don't let friends use Pentium III in 2018. Be a friend. Stop the use of P3's.
I would try one for ***** and giggles. Hell I have a 386 in my basement for playing a couple of games from back in the day on 3.5" floppy!
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