Report: Microsoft starts blocking updates for Windows 7 & 8.1 on newer PCs

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Microsoft Corp. could be about to upset a few Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users, as it appears it will now enforce a new support policy outlined last year that means newer personal computers are no longer eligible for security updates.

A new Microsoft support document says PCs equipped with the latest processors from AMD Corp., Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. will be blocked from receiving security updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

ZDnet reports that a number of users have complained of receiving the following message when trying to install updates last week: “Your PC uses a processor that isn’t supported on this version of Windows and you won’t receive updates.” The message cites error code 80240037, which is triggered when a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 device powered by Intel’s “Kaby Lake” and AMD’s “Bristol Ridge” chips, or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 series, tries to download updates.

From now on, those processors are only supported by Windows 10, while “Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 devices that have a seventh generation or a later generation processor may no longer be able to scan or download updates through Windows Update or Microsoft Update,” the support document says. PCs powered by pre-2015 chips, such as Intel’s Haswell and Broadwell families, will remain unaffected.

Microsoft first mentioned the silicon support limitation back in January 2016, arguing that it was “challenging” to get Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 running on the latest processors. Unsurprisingly, the move came in for some fierce criticism when it was first announced, with many saying this was just yet another tactic by Microsoft to force its users to upgrade to Windows 10. The company later backtracked and promised an extra year’s worth of support, meaning that Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 would be supported on seventh-generation and later chips until July 17.

That criticism has re-emerged on Reddit, where several surprised users voiced their frustration at the new policy. “Chipsets are supposed to be the responsibility of Intel or AMD, not [Microsoft] and their pressure tactics,” vented a user called Rattlesnake_Shake.

“I’m curious, does a promise of support end dates form some sort of expected or reasonably understood contract with consumers?” asked another Reddit user named LakeVermilionDreams. “Because ending support of the OS for this year’s hardware shocks me a bit, especially when those OSes are good for a handful of years yet. I wonder what kind of class action or consumer protection laws the various countries of the world have that might come into play here.”

What isn’t immediately clear is if Microsoft has actually initiated the new policy as of last week, or is just warning users of the impending change by showing them the above message. There has been no official announcement from the company so far, with the complaints reported by ZDNet the only news to go on. SiliconANGLE has reached out to Microsoft for comment and will update if and when it responds.

Image: TechStage/Flickr