Anyone who tries to run Windows 7 on the latest versions of either Intel or AMD’s processors are about to get shut out.  A change to Microsoft’s patching policy has made it impossible to install security updates for Windows 7 on computer equipped with new processors.  This change was put into place with this month’s Patch Tuesday update and looks like it may be the final nail in the coffin for update dodgers.

Many new hardware early adopters who tried to apply this month’s security patches were greeted with an error message.

Unsupported Hardware

Your PC uses a processor that isn’t supported on this version of Windows and you won’t receive updates.

Hardware affected by the policy change includes the 7th-generation Intel processors (“Kaby Lake”) and AMD Ryzen (“Bristol Ridge”) chips.  While these chipsets have only recently appeared on the market, this will curtail the remaining lifecycle of Windows 7 and sets an unusual precedent for Microsoft.   Traditionally, Microsoft has supported future versions of hardware, long into the extended support timeline.  In the case of Windows 7, the extended support deadline is not until 2020, so there will now be three years of unsupported hardware releases.  What this means in simple terms, is that Windows 10 will be the only viable option for a new computer purchased over the next three years.

When it comes to personal users, a new computer restricted to Windows 10 probably won’t make much of a difference but this could cause issues for business owners.  Any custom software will now need to be tested for cross compatibility.  What’s more, having a mix of operating systems within an office environment can create disruptions as employees need to be educated in differences as new systems are brought online.  On the IT side of things, this also creates problems as different versions of Windows have different requirements when it comes to patching and maintenance.

Regardless of any disruptions caused, Microsoft does not look like it will back down on this policy change.  Business owners are strongly advised to look into upgrade plans for your entire business network.  While the new hardware restrictions do not affect older hardware already running on Windows 7, future upgrades will become increasingly difficult to implement unless you are prepared for Windows 10.  For better or worse, Windows 10 is here to stay and adoption will soon be mandatory.