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Support Clock Ticking for Some Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs

A list of of Intel Skylake-based PCs that can run Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 but will have truncated Windows product lifecycle support was released by Microsoft late last week.

Skylake is Intel's processor technology that succeeds its Haswell line. Buyers of new PCs will get Skylake technology when they buy machines with familiar Xeon, Pentium and Celeron processors that bear Intel's sixth-generation Core branding. However, in an announcement this month, Microsoft noted that it is altering its Windows product lifecycle support policies for Skylake-based machines running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 OSes.

Those Skylake-based machines that can run Windows 7/8.1 will have to upgrade to Windows 10 by July 17, 2017 or risk running "unsupported" Windows versions. In Microsoft's phraseology, running unsupported software means using software that does not get security patches or hotfixes from Microsoft, which is a potential security risk for individuals and organizations.

Microsoft's list of those Skylake-based computers affected by the new Windows support policy changes can be found at this page.

At press time, links to Dell, HP, Lenovo and NEC machines were shown. The Dell link didn't work for me using the Chrome browser but it did work using Internet Explorer. The NEC list defaulted to Japanese, rather than English.

Microsoft plans to update its Skylake list page on an ongoing basis. Organizations or individuals wanting to run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on newly purchased Skylake-based PCs likely will want to bookmark that page.

The policy change could be a factor for organizations that exercise downgrade rights when buying new PCs. The truncated July 17, 2017 end-of-support date will have to be kept in mind.

That July 17, 2017 end-of-support date likely will be confusing for individuals and organizations. Microsoft's Windows lifecycle fact sheet shows Windows 7 Service Pack 1 with "extended support" through Jan. 14, 2020 and Windows 8.1 with extended support through Jan. 10, 2023. However, those support dates just apply to older processor technologies, not to Skylake and newer technologies.

For Skylake-based Machines, Microsoft shortened its Windows lifecycle support policies by three years for Windows 7 and six years for Windows 8.1.

Microsoft's announcement made it somewhat clear that emerging new hardware technologies only would be supported for Windows 10, going forward. The company specifically pointed to Intel's "Kaby Lake," AMD's "Bristol Ridge" and Qualcomm's "8996" emerging technologies as only having Microsoft's support when running Windows 10.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.