What You Need to Know about Policy Changes for Your Next Upgrade

Ashley Lofaro

Windows 10 has been having great success with its silicon partners, especially with Intel’s new Skylake processor. If you compare the partnership of Intel’s Skylake with Windows 10 versus other Windows 7 systems, the performance is unmatched with 30x better graphics, 3x better battery life, and improved security with features like Credential Guard using silicon supported virtualization. Following this success, Microsoft wants to make sure its users have a great experience and utilize these advancements. At the same time, Microsoft wants to be transparent as they change their focus to a partnership between Windows and silicon. So on January 15th they made an announcement that made recommendations for businesses who are looking to upgrade to new systems that feature Intel’s Skylake processor and an addition to its support policy for Windows 7/8.1.

To really understand why this announcement is so important we need to understand what’s been happening with systems using Windows 7, a ten year old operating system, and the new Skylake processor.

There has been a need for our OEM partners to customize legacy drivers for this combination to help emulate Windows 7 expectations for business support, interrupt processing, and power states. This makes it difficult for other processes in the system like graphics, WiFi, and security. Though Windows 7 has proved to be reliable over the years, this will not be a good experience going forward.

To help organizations who are acquiring new systems, during the week of February 1 Microsoft will announce a list of supported Skylake machines that will continue to support Windows 7, and 8.1. This will allow them to upgrade their processor now, while allowing more time to prepare for Windows 10.

As for the support policy, Windows 7 is still in extended support, and will continue to receive compatibility support on past generations of silicons, like the 5th generation Intel® Core™ processor until January 14, 2020; this is the same for Windows 8.1 until its end date of January 10, 2023. The new addition to the support policy is that as new generations of silicon are introduced they will require the latest Windows platform. This addition will ensure better integration between Windows and silicon moving forward. For those that choose to upgrade to the new Skylake machines, they will receive Windows 7 support until July 17, 2017 where they will have to have upgraded to Windows 10. Anyone on Windows 7 or 8.1 devices that features Skylake will only receive the most critical security updates after that date.

This is great news as Microsoft aligns itself with modern technology trends. It’s clear they are here to support their customers by first, being very clear with their approach going forward, knowing it will take time to adjust, and secondly, building such a strong partnership between the operating system and the silicon going forward. If you find that you’re not going to be ready by 2017, we can help you understand your options, but we need to do so quickly. Take a moment and watch, Support and Windows 10: What You Need to Know, listen in as my colleagues Lane Shelton and Dave Olivier from Connection help you on the path to Windows 10.