For the past few days, news that Microsoft is "cutting off" support for some older PCs running Intel's Clover Trail line of CPUs has been making the rounds of the internet. However, it is important to note that Microsoft announced the same back in April.
According to the company, machines using any of the following CPUs aren't supported on the Windows 10 Creators Update:
- Atom Z2760
- Atom Z2520
- Atom Z2560
- Atom Z2580
The aforementioned chips started to appear in entry-level Windows 8 machines back in 2012. According to ZDNet, stats show that at least 10 million tablets and hybrid PCs running these CPUs were sold. As such, it is quite understandable that customers who purchased these devices would be upset about their devices not getting feature updates past the Anniversary Update, despite Microsoft positioning its latest operating system as "Windows as a Service" (WaaS).
While machines utilizing these older CPUs still won't get the Creators Update - released in April - Microsoft has decided to extend support for these devices for the next six years. This is a noticeable transition from its WaaS model, where support would have been offered until 2018.
As a part of its new policy, these devices will continue to receive security patches and "quality updates" until January 2023, which is the same time frame in which extended support for Windows 8.1 ends. The full statement reads as follows:
With Windows 10, we introduced Windows as a Service, a model for continuous value delivery via twice annual feature updates and monthly quality updates. Along with this updated delivery cadence, we adjusted our support lifecycle policies to reflect the Windows as a Service model. Recognizing that a combination of hardware, driver and firmware support is required to have a good Windows 10 experience, we updated our support lifecycle policy to align with the hardware support period for a given device. If a hardware partner stops supporting a given device or one of its key components and stops providing driver updates, firmware updates, or fixes, it may mean that device will not be able to properly run a future Windows 10 feature update.
This is the case with devices utilizing Intel Clover Trail Atom Processors1 today: they require additional hardware support to provide the best possible experience when updating to the latest Windows 10 feature update, the Windows 10 Creators Update. However, these systems are no longer supported by Intel (End of Interactive Support), and without the necessary driver support, they may be incapable of moving to the Windows 10 Creators Update without a potential performance impact.
We know issues like this exist and we actively work to identify the best support path for older hardware. As part of our commitment to customers, we will be offering the Windows 10 Anniversary Update to these Intel Clover Trail devices on Windows 10, which we know provides a good user experience. To keep our customers secure, we will provide security updates to these specific devices running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update until January of 2023, which aligns with the original Windows 8.1 extended support period.
The clarification implies that it's mostly due to Intel dropping support for the CPUs that devices utilizing them won't be able to run future Windows 10 feature updates optimally. But it does mean that Microsoft will be bounded to providing security updates to such devices for the next six years as a part of its WaaS model, even though support for these Intel processors has effectively ended.