Microsoft pushes back Windows 7 and 8 on Skylake support cut-off date from 2017 to 2018

Microsoft is clarifying and softening a bit its stance on how long and thoroughly it will support Windows 7 and 8 users who want to run those operating systems on Intel Skylake-based devices.

Microsoft is softening its stance on how long and how completely it will continue to support Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users running Skylake-based devices.

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In a March 18 "Windows for IT Pros" blog post, Microsoft officials outlined the updated terms and conditions.

Instead of cutting off full, extended support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 on Skylake on July 17, 2017, Microsoft will now guarantee full extended support to July 17, 2018 on the set list of devices it provided in February.

Microsoft also tightened up the wording as to what kinds of security updates Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users will get once that date comes.

"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," according to today's blog post. (Again, this is only for machines on the list of Microsoft and OEM-supported devices.)

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These new clarifications also apply to users running Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 on Skylake-based embedded devices, not just PCs. Until today, embedded users were facing the same cutoff dates and vague support commitments.

In January, Microsoft execs said they would continue to provide "the most critical Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 security updates" which would "be released if the update does not risk the reliability or compatibility of the Windows 7/8.1 platform on other devices,"

Before Microsoft's mid-January announcement, business users expected to be able to buy new Skylake/Intel sixth generation Core PCs and, if wanted and needed, downgrade them to Windows 7 or 8.1, yet remain supported by Microsoft.

Windows 7 SP1 is currently in extended support, meaning Microsoft had said it would provide users with all security updates on that operating system until January 14, 2020. Windows 8.1's period of extended support isn't set to end until January 10, 2023.

But Microsoft abruptly changed its support guarantee in January. As long as users were running older processors -- those in Intel's Haswell family, for example -- the same support cutoff dates remained for Windows 7 and 8.1. But users who wanted, for various compatibility/test/budgetary reasons, want to run 7 or 8.1 on Skylake or newer processors now faced a much shorter support runway.

Microsoft officials attributed today's changes to customer feedback. But the company is, unsurprisingly, continuing to advocate that users migrate to Windows 10 as soon as possible on all Skylake devices and their successors.

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