Microsoft has decided to reverse its decision to cut support early for PCs running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. This policy change primarily applies to commercial devices and is intended to accommodate organizations not yet ready to transition to Windows 10.
In January, Microsoft issued an update to its support policy in an effort to accelerate Windows 10 upgrades among enterprise users. Its intent was to limit support to new processors and chipsets running Windows 10 on the computer systems.
This move would have had the greatest effect on businesses that planned to buy new computers running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 with the intention of eventually migrating those devices to Windows 10.
As part of its January announcement, Redmond explained that, in its view, the newest generations of silicon would require the latest Windows platform. This would allow Microsoft to focus on integrating Windows with silicon while staying compatible with earlier generations of both.
The exceptions to its policy change included consumer and enterprise users running PCs and tablets with Intel Skylake chips. The company would continue to support Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 on these devices through July 17, 2017.
Users would have to upgrade to Windows 10 during this support window, because after July 17, 2017, only the most critical Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 security updates would be provided. This gave about 18 months for businesses with Skylake-equipped devices to upgrade to Windows 10.
Now Microsoft has announced it will wait before terminating support for 6th-generation Skylake devices, acknowledging most organizations won't upgrade in such a short amount of time.
"Enterprise customers are moving to Windows 10 faster than any version of Windows," Shad Larsen, director of Windows Business Planning, wrote in an Aug. 11 blog post. "At the same time, we recognize that, in some instances, customers have a few systems that require longer deployment timeframes."
To support these customers, Microsoft is extending its support date to the end of support dates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. The tech giant will provide all necessary security updates for Skylake devices within that time period.
So how long do enterprise users have to upgrade their Skylake machines to Windows 10? It depends on which version of the OS is currently running.
Windows 7 is currently in extended support, which will end on January 14, 2020. Support for Windows 8.1 will end on January 10, 2023. Despite the newly extended support period, Microsoft urges business users to upgrade to Windows 10 as soon as possible.
Earlier this year Microsoft announced future silicon platforms, like the upcoming 7th-generation Intel Core Kaby Lake processor and the AMD 7th-generation processors, will only be supported on Windows 10. All future silicon editions will require the newest version of Windows 10, the company emphasized.
Microsoft recently released the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which was purposefully updated with business-friendly features to give organizations motivation to upgrade. However, research indicates the update isn't pushing businesses to make the jump.
A survey recently released by Adaptiva discovered 63% of businesses plan to wait at least six months to upgrade to Windows 10. Slightly more than three-quarters (76%) said the Anniversary Update is not increasing their urgency to upgrade.