[Updated] Microsoft Brutally Ends Windows 10 Support Early for Some Intel Systems
The biggest selling point of Windows 10, apart from the fact that it was offered for free, was the promise of regular and free future updates. Under the new Windows as a Service (WaaS) model, Microsoft said users will continue to receive security and feature updates for their devices. There will no longer be those annoying notifications telling you that your Windows version is outdated because you will be able to upgrade to the newer versions as soon as they are made available.
What many Windows 10 adopters missed was a small note that this promise of continued support is only valid for the "supported lifetime of the device". ZDNet now reports that the end of support for some Windows 10 devices has already arrived, just two years after the release of Windows 10.
Several models of early 2-in-1 PCs announced only a few years ago in 2013 and 2014 are receiving a "Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC" message. This notification tells the user to uninstall "this app" because of its incompatibility with Windows 10. However, this isn't about any app, but the fact that these devices are no longer compatible with the latest version of Windows 10, the Creators Update.
The problem appears to be affecting Intel's Atom Clover Trail series CPUs. While Microsoft is yet to say anything about this lack of support for devices that are barely even 5 years old, Acer has posted the following list of Intel Clover Trail processors that aren't supported on Windows 10 Creators Update:
- Atom Z2760
- Atom Z2520
- Atom Z2560
- Atom Z2580
"If you install the Windows 10 creators update, icons and text may not appear at all, or may show up as solid color blocks or bars," Acer has warned. The company has promised that it is working with the Redmond software maker to address this incompatibility. However, it raises the question of future compatibility issues for other devices too.
How long will your device get Windows 10 support under this new WaaS model?
Before the release of the latest Windows in 2015, Microsoft followed a 5+5 support policy that promised five years of security and feature updates and then five years of security updates for any new hardware that supported Windows. This gave everyone a clear view of what to expect with a predictable end of support date.
However, it created a problem for Microsoft because not many would pay for the new Windows versions that were released every few years. On the other hand, the frequent releases of new versions enabled the company to force its OEMs to revise system specs.
Windows 10 came with the promise of consistent security and feature upgrades under the supported lifetime. However, this supported lifetime appears to unclear and a vague term for users.
The current lot of machines that is the first to face this problem was shipped with Windows 10 with a promise of 5+5 support policy that wouldn't have ended before October 2023. During the last two years, Microsoft pushed everyone to install Windows 10, luring its user base on the promise of better security protections. But now these devices are without any support - feature or security. While they continue to receive security update, Windows 10 Anniversary Update will only receive security updates until early 2018, as every new Windows 10 version is only supported for 18 months. With that, these Clover Trail machines will also stop receiving any kind of support, nearly five years earlier than the end of support date users were promised when they first bought their devices.
With this issue of new versions carrying only a validity of 18 months, many more devices will soon be on the chopping board too. While Acer has promised it's working with Microsoft, it's unclear if there will be any changes in the support plan. These Intel processors could receive support for the Creators Update with Microsoft extending their support lifetime. However, that hasn't happened in the few months of the Creators Update being released to the public.
This problem may actually push Microsoft to outline a better and clear support policy, or else Windows 10 users will have to change their devices sooner than they used to do before the release of Windows 10.
[Update, 18 July]:
In a statement to Wccftech, a Microsoft spokesperson wrote that the company is "aware of this" issue and is "investigating the matter." We have been promised more details following this "investigation" by the Windows maker, which we will add to this space when available.
[Update, 19 July]:
In a latest email statement to Wccftech, Microsoft has confirmed cutting new Windows 10 versions for Atom machines; will provide support. More details here.