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Microsoft to require Windows 10 for newest CPUs, pushing enterprise users to use latest OS

If you want a new computer with the latest CPU architecture like Intel’s Skylake chips, you’ll need to run Windows 10 as well, Microsoft announced today.

While that might seem like a no-duh move for the everyday consumer, enterprise customers and the IT departments that support them now have another thing to consider when buying new computers. You can get the latest hardware and worry about breaking your internal apps that run fine on Windows 7 or 8.1, or you can buy older chip architectures that won’t be supported as long but still run older versions of Windows just fine.

windows 10 hero imageIn a blog post announcing the new support policy, Windows and devices group vice president Terry Myerson said the move will help Microsoft focus on letting Windows 10 take full advantage of the latest CPUs.

“Going forward, as new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support,” Myerson said. “This enables us to focus on deep integration between Windows and the silicon, while maintaining maximum reliability and compatibility with previous generations of platform and silicon.”

Older silicon will still run Windows 7 and 8.1 even on new machines, with Windows 7 support running through Jan. 14, 2020 and Windows 8.1 support running until Jan. 10, 2023.

There is a solution for those looking for new hardware right now that aren’t ready for a full upgrade to Windows 10: Microsoft has “a list of specific new Skylake devices we will support to run Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.” That list initially includes Dell’s Latitude 12, Latitude 13 7000 Ultrabook, and XPS 13; HP’s EliteBook Folio, EliteBook 1040 G3; and Lenovo’s ThinkPad T460s, X1 Carbon, and P70 models, according to ZDNet. Other models will likely be added down the line. (Update: here’s the full list, which will be updated over time.)

But support will only last 18 months, ending on July 17, 2017. After that, enterprise customers should be ready to upgrade to Windows 10.

Skylake isn’t the only CPU that’s seeing this restriction; Intel’s upcoming “Kaby Lake” silicon, Qualcomm’s upcoming “8996” silicon and AMD’s upcoming “Bristol Ridge” silicon are all going to be restricted to Windows 10.

While the move is likely adding to the headaches for many IT pros, Microsoft claims that Windows 10 is seeing healthy adoption among enterprise users. According to Myerson, 76 percent of enterprise customers are piloting Windows 10 and more than 22 million devices are running the latest operating system in enterprise and education.

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