In fact Microsoft is going even further than this by also refusing to support Windows 7 and Windows 8 on Intel’s current generation ‘Skylake’ processors, with the exception of a “list of specific new Skylake devices”. This list includes the Dell Latitude 12 and XPS 13; HP EliteBook Folio and G3 and Lenovo ThinkPad T460s and X1 Carbon. Even then support on those devices will only last 18 months ending on 17 July, 2017.

Yes, you read this right: Microsoft is breaking from 31 years of Windows history by refusing to honor its promised Windows lifecycles unless users stick to old hardware. Upgrade your existing Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer to these chipsets or buy new hardware and install Windows 7 or Windows 8 on it and the official Windows Lifecycle Dates don’t mean a thing.

All of which begs the question…

Why Is Microsoft Doing This?

In its blog post Microsoft makes the argument that it all comes down to the effort required to keep Windows 7 (released in October 2009) running well on the latest hardware:

“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 [sic], 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.”

'Get Windows 10' notifications and upgrade pressure is has now been increased - again. Image credit: Gordon Kelly

Of course the counterpoint to that is Windows 7 already runs smoothly on older hardware, so it doesn’t need any optimisation to run well on far more powerful chipsets. Meanwhile Microsoft skips any explanation for its decision to treat Windows 8 in the same way as Windows 7. Notable considering Windows 8 is just three years and three months old and shares much of its core with Windows 10.

Who Is Affected By This?

Perhaps surprisingly Microsoft is initially going after businesses with these changes first. In justifying this the blog post states:

“In clarifying this policy, we are prioritizing transparency with enterprises on where to find the highest reliability and best supported Windows experience: Windows 10 on any silicon, Windows 7 on the down-level silicon it was designed for, or a device on the support list.”

Again it is unclear why Windows 8 is left out of this statement and the blog post concludes in a truly disingenuous manner: “Always, what guides us is a customer-first approach – in this case, providing clear guidance to our customers on what they can expect and strong alignment with our OEM partners on our joint commitment to all of our Windows customers.”

In short: a customer first approach of explaining why the support and flexibility millions receive with Windows 7 and Windows 8 will now become significantly worse than they had been led to believe. Understandably it has been met with scorn.

Windows 10 is a single operating system working across all Microsoft desktops, laptops, tablets and phones. Image credit: Microsoft

So should consumers be worried? I’d say yes. Whereas Microsoft has previously admitted to using Windows 10 consumers as guinea pigs for business when it comes to security, here businesses are guinea pigs for consumers with regards to upgrade pressure. It’s a strange tactic given businesses are usually tougher to push upgrades on than consumers, but there seems little reason the tactic won’t be expanded to consumers should it prove successful.

As such we find ourselves in a familiar situation. Those with the technical willpower to move to Linux and replace their essential programs will promote this route and those with the financial means to move to Apple and replace their essential programs will promote that route. But for everyone else Microsoft has a captive audience and it is becoming clear that a future on Windows means Windows 10…