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Why is Microsoft blocking newer PCs running Windows 7 and 8.1 from receiving legitimate Security Updates?
The consensus is that Microsoft is trying to force users – once again – to upgrade to Windows 10 whether they want to or not.
The update block has even prompted some users and businesses to call for a class-action lawsuit against Microsoft, for cutting off updates to Windows 8.1 “eight months before the end of mainstream support”.
In March, Microsoft began blocking updates on Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs running on newer Intel and AMD processors, but debate over why Microsoft was doing so was reignited by an unofficial patch last week. The patch created a workaround if you wanted to update your computer.
The workaround allows users of Windows 7 and 8.1 that has been installed on newer machines to continue receiving updates, by evading a Windows check to detect which generation of CPU the PC is using.
The block now only affects PCs running on Intel Kaby Lake, AMD Ryzen Bristol Ridge, Qualcomm 8996 or newer processors.
For some, the fact the block could be side-stepped reinforces the argument that Microsoft has intentionally decided to cut off updates. That would then force many users of Windows 7 & 8.1 to buy a new computer with Windows 10 preinstalled as the operating system.
“Is Microsoft unnecessarily blocking updates for new PCs? I would say most definitely,” said Roy Castleman, owner of London-based Prosyn, which provides IT support for organizations of all sizes.
Suspicions of Microsoft’s motives for blocking the update have been compounded by the firm’s recommendation that those affected should upgrade to Windows 10.
“I believe that Microsoft is struggling to convince people that the constant upgrade and change of OS’s is a requirement. Let’s face it, while the multiple features that Windows 10 provides are useful in an environment where the computer user doesn’t have a full range of computer skills, most users and companies do not need any of these new features,” said Castleman.
The main reason the move to block updates is contentious is because a huge number of businesses rely on software that is not supported by newer operating systems, or are already set up to run on Windows 7, making the upgrade to Windows 10 a difficult proposition.
“Could Microsoft keep it working? Yes, but Windows 7 has just passed out of mainstream support, and Windows 8.1 has really small market penetration in enterprises. Windows 7 is still run on over 50% of Windows based computers, worldwide.
“Microsoft doesn’t want to divert the resources it would take to properly test updates and upgrades away from more important areas.”
Gartner’s Kleynhans has sympathy with the argument that the complexity of continuing to support these processors in older systems is becoming difficult.
Questioning how support via updates can be removed before the end of either mainstream or extended support for Windows 8.1, GitHub’s Levicki said: “I have read the Software License Agreement and nowhere does it say that they have the right to revoke support earlier like this.”
“All this is setting a very bad precedent in software and hardware industry, and I really hope some lawyer will pick this up and start a class action.”
Microsoft insists that the move to withdraw support will lead to a better Windows in the long run. But users, manufacturers and retailers are becoming increasingly irritated at Microsoft’s almost unethical push to upgrade to an operating system that users may not want.
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