Windows 7 End of Life – Act Now

Windows 7 end of life isn't here yet but if you're not planning an upgrade already you need to start now.  Read on to get the key details you should know about as Windows 7 end of life approaches.

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As popular as Windows 7 is, your business should be already planning for Windows 10 adoption.  Windows 7 end of life isn't until 14th January 2020, but don't be mislead into thinking you have all that time.

The end of Windows 7 on new hardware

There are impending implications by staying on Windows 7 or 8.1.  Hardware support is been withdrawn on business PCs and laptops that you purchase today. Later in the year new PC models wont support for Windows 7 at all.

Skylake and Windows 7 - ending support early

Microsoft is curtailing support for 6th generation Intel Core processors on Windows 7 & 8.1. These "6th gen" core processors also know as Skylake launched back in August 2015.

Microsoft announced in January 2016 wide-reaching changes to Windows 7/8.1 support for Skylake systems. Microsoft was originally going to stop updating Windows 7 after summer 2017 with only the "most critical" security fixes to be made available. 

This shows how keen Microsoft are to get everyone onto Windows 10 and these tactics shouldn't surprise anyone.

Microsoft did relent thankfully, the new deadline is now July 2018 with further concessions:

"After July 2018, all critical Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 security updates will be addressed for Skylake systems until extended support ends for Windows 7, January 14, 2020 and Windows 8.1 on January 10, 2023."

This means low, moderate and important security updates won't be released for Windows 7 & 8.1 on Skylake systems, after July 2018.  Whether this is actually enforced is another matter but it's not to be ignored either. 

Windows 7 decline on current generation PCs

Microsoft have a page where you can check compatibility with your hardware vendor. This lists the Skylake devices supported on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1:

Skylake systems supported on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1

Here are Dell's remarks for example, making it clear that it's a change being initiated by Microsoft:

In the corresponding Dell Knowledge Base article, 'Dell support for Windows 7 and 8.1 on the Skylake chipset' they explain:

​"Dell recommends that customers upgrade Skylake systems to Windows 10 to continue receiving support after July 2018 or consider Dell ProSupport services. Dell will continue to provide "best effort" support for Skylake systems with Win 7/8.1 through our ProSupport service."

Newest hardware won't support Windows 7

Ready or not, towards the end of this year and well before the Windows 7 end of life, Windows 7 won't support the next generation of PCs. 

"Kaby Lake", which is the successor to Skylake, otherwise to be known as the 7th generation Intel Core processors won't support Windows 7 at all:

"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"

So for example, let's say Dell release a new Latitude or OptiPlex device in early 2017 with a Kaby Lake processor.  When you go to download the drivers or driver packs for an MDT or SCCM deployment, the only drivers your will see will be for Windows 10.

​Kaby Lake No Windows 7 support

Intel confirmed at the Computex 2016 event, that Kaby Lake is on track for release later in the year.

​Intel also talked about the innovation that is coming later this year to PCs, demonstrating 7th Gen Intel Core processors (code named Kaby Lake) for the first time and highlighting some of the advancements in performance, battery and media capabilities to come to premium devices in the second half of 2016.

Products are already being launched with Kaby Lake processors - Move over, Skylake: Asus' new Surface rival rocks Intel's Kaby Lake chip.  

Kaby Lake will power a new generation of PCs, as mentioned in this report - Intel's 'Kaby Lake' chip starts strong as Intel retools its PC strategy:

More than 400 devices with Intel's upcoming chip design will reach the market, said Navin Shenoy, corporate vice president and general manager for Intel's Client Computing Group.

This will help power next generation features:

Devices with Kaby Lake will include Thunderbolt 3, IR cameras for Windows Hello, and the latest graphics technologies to handle 4K content, Shenoy said.

The writing is definitely on the wall. If you are not planning a Windows 10 migration now, you are doing a disservice to your business.

Windows 7 end of life - Why upgrade?

As well better hardware support there are plenty of other reasons to upgrade to Windows 10, which I'll get into later.  Windows 7 is a limiting factor today though, with security, performance, and reliability.   Windows 10 offers a much better environment to be productive.

"Compared to Windows 7 PC’s, Skylake when combined with Windows 10, enables up to 30x better graphics and 3x the battery life – with the unmatched security of Credential Guard utilizing silicon supported virtualization."

Microsoft explains the difficulties involved with supporting Windows 7 on the latest hardware and devices

Windows 7 was designed nearly 10 years ago before any x86/x64 SOCs existed.  For Windows 7 to run on any modern silicon, device drivers and firmware need to emulate Windows 7’s expectations for interrupt processing, bus support, and power states- which is challenging for WiFi, graphics, security, and more.

Basically supporting Windows 7 on current hardware is difficult and can be prone to problems. For Skylake PCs with Windows 7 or 8.1, Microsoft asks you to upgrade by July 2018 to remain supported:

​"During the support period, these systems should be upgraded to Windows 10 to continue receiving support after the period ends"

In the meantime, enterprises, as well as consumers, are benefiting from the agility Windows 10 gives them.   

Windows 10 - 270 Million Users

What are your Windows 10 plans?

So Windows 7 end of life should be on the radar, your Windows 10 adoption planning underway.  Windows 10 will make a fantastic experience for end users with a modern environment and even better paired with Office 2016.

Here is a recap of some of the key points of the lead up to Windows 7 end of life:

  • Windows 7 left mainstream support in January 2015
  • No support for Windows 7 on the latest hardware (Kaby Lake onwards)
  • No new Windows 7 Professional PCs by 31 October 2016
  • Windows 7 reduced security support on current hardware (Skylake) by July 2018
  • Internet Explorer 11 is not equipped for the modern web and new web standards

Here are just a few reasons why Windows 10 really deserves to feature in your work plan if not centre stage:

  • Windows 10 is a credible upgrade, unlike say Windows Vista or 8 
  • Windows 10 makes use of new hardware, PC's and other form factors (tablets, 2-in 1 hybrids etc)
  • Hardware vendors have made more than 500 different PCs and other devices to take advantage of Windows 10
  • Microsoft Edge is increasingly a best in class web browser now features like extensions are on their way
  • Windows 10 has a predictable devlopment roadmap allowing you to test updates early and control the pace of change
  • Security is improved in Windows 10 and will be less prone to malware compared to Windows 7 as well as support for Windows Hello, the new biometric authentication technology

Windows 10 is evolving rapidly with further improvements this Summer 2016 and the release of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.   Improvements are being made with Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11 working better together.  There will be even better support with line of business applications built for older web technologies.

For details on Windows 10 minimum hardware requirements and other related details, check out this link.

Windows 10 - Free Upgrade Offer to End Soon

The free upgrade offer to Windows 10 is ending soon.   This Microsoft post has all the details Windows 10 Now on 300 Million Active Devices – Free Upgrade Offer to End Soon.

This is approximately how long you have to take advantage of the free Windows 10 upgrade.

When does the Windows 10 free upgrade end?

57
Days
19
Hours
46
Minutes
39
Seconds

There has never been a better time to move away from Windows 7. While aimed at consumers watch Bryan Roper from the Windows team run through the 10 top reasons to upgrade to Windows 10 – before the free upgrade offer ends.

Windows 7 - Technical Debt?

I hope this was of interest even if you may not agree with it all. I increasingly think Windows 7 is entering the realms of technical debt.

It's a problem that some organizations will leave right until the last minute to do anything about.  There is no need for this, Microsoft has some wonderful tools and resources for Windows 10 adoption.  Let's avoid another Windows XP type situation.

If you do still have to maintain Windows 7, Microsoft released an update rollup​ on the 17th May 2016.  This includes all the security and non-security fixes released since the release of Windows 7 SP1 up to April 2016.  

Install this one update, and then you only need new updates released after April 2016.  See here for details - Simplifying updates for Windows 7 and 8.1.