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Microsoft Gives 1-Year Reprieve for Windows PCs Running Skylake

Microsoft is adding one more year to the support lifetimes of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices running Intel Skylake, the company said Friday.

Back in January, Windows Executive Vice President Terry Myerson stated that Windows 7/8.1 Skylake users had support only through July 17, 2017. After that date, those users would need to move to Windows 10 to continue to have supported software. Typically, unsupported Windows software doesn't get security updates, leaving systems potentially vulnerable to attacks.

On Friday, however, Microsoft announced a new deadline: July 17, 2018.

Support Through July 17, 2018
The new deadline was announced in a blog post by Jeremy Korst, general manager of Windows marketing. Per his blog, here are the revised Windows 7/8.1 support changes for Skylake devices:

  1. To help provide greater flexibility for customers who have longer deployment timeframes to Windows 10, the support period for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices on Skylake systems will be extended by one year: from July 17, 2017 to July 17, 2018.

  2. Also, after July 2018, all critical Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 security updates will be addressed for Skylake systems until extended support ends for Windows 7, January 14, 2020 and Windows 8.1 on January 10, 2023.

Those latter two "extended support" dates are the normal expected end-of-support dates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, respectively. So, Microsoft will still continue to issue "critical" security updates through those periods, although critical updates are just one component of Microsoft's monthly patch process.

Microsoft won't issue critical updates to those systems if it causes compatibility or reliability issues, Microsoft had explained back in January. That approach likely is still true with the revised policy. Similarly, non-security updates likely will not be arriving past the July 17, 2018 deadline.

Windows Embedded 7/8.1 OSes also will be restricted by the revised July 17, 2018 end-of-support deadline. Microsoft had announced in February that these Windows Embedded OSes would have similar truncated support. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that those Windows Embedded OSes are similarly affected by the revised deadline, saying "the updates to Microsoft's Skylake policy also apply to Windows Embedded Systems."

The Windows Server family isn't affected by Microsoft's truncated support policy for Skylake chips. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that detail on Friday via e-mail.

The Windows 10 Future
Microsoft's Skylake policy is kind of unusual because Microsoft typically didn't alter established Windows support policies based on the emergence of new chipset hardware. However, in the case of Skylake after the revised support date, as well as with any future emerging chipset technologies, only Windows 10 will be supported going forward, per Microsoft's earlier explanations.

Myerson had explained this policy switch back in January as due to technical challenges. He said that the scale-back of the Windows support policy was needed because of possible Windows 7/8.1 servicing "regressions" on new chip hardware.

Intel Skylake chips are currently on the market in various machines, going by Xeon, Pentium and Celeron brands. They're also known as "sixth-generation" Intel Core processors. Only the Skylake-based machines on this Microsoft-maintained list, though, will have support through July 17, 2018.

Those individuals or IT pros looking for more definitive guidance than a couple of scattered Microsoft blog posts can find Microsoft's nuanced policy support explanations in this Windows lifecycle support FAQ page. The policy details associated with Skylake chips can be found in Microsoft's answers to Questions 17 through 21.

About the Author

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

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