Microsoft claims older systems simply don't work well with Intel's new processors.
If you don't know by now, Microsoft really, really wants you to upgrade to Windows 10. Maybe you never installed it after Microsoft automatically downloaded the installation files on your computer. Maybe you've managed to ignore the near-constant barrage of "Get Windows 10" popups. If so, feel free to keep up the good fight. Be warned, though—changes to Microsoft's policy regarding support for Windows 7 and 8 may force you to upgrade to Windows 10 if you plan on upgrading your CPU in the near future.
As Microsoft outlines in a new blog post, the changes to its support policy largely spring from the introduction of Intel's new "Skylake" processors, which are said to offer 30 times better graphics and three times the battery life over Windows 7 when paired with Windows 10. By contrast, Microsoft points out that Windows 7 is almost a decade old, and new chips like the Skylakes need to emulate Windows 7's basic silicon framework in order to work properly. In the process, this emulation reportedly causes problems with Wi-Fi, graphics, security, and other features.
"As partners make customizations to legacy device drivers, services, and firmware settings, customers are likely to see regressions with Windows 7 ongoing servicing," Microsoft said in its post.
Microsoft may focus heavily on Windows 7 above, but other information in its statement suggests the Redmond giant's long support of multiple operating systems may effectively be at an end. The company is preparing a list of devices that will support both the new Skylake chips and Windows 7 and 8.1 for release sometime next week, but even the limited support for those devices will end on July 17, 2017. Microsoft doesn't hesitate to mention what course of action it thinks you should take in the meantime.
"During this new 18-month support period, these systems should be upgraded to Windows 10 to continue receiving support after the period ends," Microsoft says.
And this marks only the beginning of what's decidedly a new trend for Microsoft. "As new silicon generations are introduced," the report says, "they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support." That presumably means that even if Microsoft releases another stinker operating system like Windows 8 or Windows Vista, we'll have to endure it if we want to enjoy the best processing power of the day.