Channel opportunity? Microsoft kills Windows 7 & 8

Microsoft has announced that previous versions of Windows will not be supported on future generation CPUs

Resellers can expect a flurry of activity in the coming years, as Microsoft has announced that it is effectively killing off support for Windows 7 and 8.1 on future generations of silicon.
 
With little warning, Terry Myerson took to the Windows blog to announce a new agreement with chipmakers that will render previous versions of Windows useless on next generation CPUs.
 
Of course, the Windows chief didn't lead with this news, but instead attempted to provide some context for the decision.
 
“The modern computing world is being defined by this deep integration between silicon, platform, and hardware and we are excited by the joint innovations ahead with these partners,” Myerson wrote. “Always, we want Windows to lead in both adoption of new silicon innovation and also product quality.”
 
Myerson highlighted some the benefits of using Windows 10, combined with Intel’s new CPU generation Skylake. Microsoft’s fall man claimed that users could expect 30x better graphics performance and 3x better something or other.
 
He then produced some choice quotes from partners including HP, Dell, Intel and Lenovo, reminding enterprises of just how reliant they are (or will be) on Microsoft’s flagship OS.
 
It was only then that Myerson started getting into the nitty gritty of the policy changes.
 
The exec explained that Microsoft would deliver a list of specific Skylake devices that will be supported when used in conjunction with Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.
 
“This approach ensures our customers can upgrade now to new devices their employees will love while preparing for a Windows 10 upgrade. We will post this list next week and it will continue to be updated as we work closely with our partners,” Myerson explained.
 
But then came the kicker.
 
“Going forward, as new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support.”
 
“For example, Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform on Intel’s upcoming ‘Kaby Lake’ silicon, Qualcomm’s upcoming ‘8996’ silicon, and AMD’s upcoming ‘Bristol Ridge’ silicon.”
 
Just how broad the list of supported current generation Skylake devices will be is anyone’s guess, but the announcement is more than just a ‘tweak’ in policy. Users are arguing that Microsoft has effectively abandoned its Windows lifecycle model in order to force enterprises and consumers onto the Windows 10 wagon.
The Redmond firm has sidestepped these thorny legacy software obligation issues by stating that support for Windows 7 and 8.1 will be maintained until their lifecycle end dates (January 14, 2020 and January 10, 2023 respectively), but with the added proviso that the support will only exist for ‘previous generation silicon’.
 
Microsoft has already updated its lifecycle support documentation accordingly.
 
Many see this as Microsoft’s latest aggressive tactic to force Windows 10 on the world, helping it to attain its deployment goal of ‘1 billion devices’, a figure that was seemingly plucked from thin air.
 
Say what you will about Microsoft’s methods, the potential upside for resellers is significant. As the Windows 10 ecosystem become more diverse, there is an opportunity to sell a wider array of devices. The operating system places increased emphasis on revenue generators such as cloud and apps; and, of course, there will be a goldmine of new licensing opportunities; not to mention the support that will be needed when all of the Windows 10 bugs that still exist today come scurrying up to the surface.

This was last published in January 2016

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