Windows 7 not supported on new hardware

Your next new computer system will not support running Windows 7 or 8. With the current (2018 and up) generation of Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm processors, will need to use Windows 10, or alternatively use a completely different operating system such as Linux or macOS (or Mac OS X). Microsoft policy support rules and new hardware mean Windows 7 and 8.1 are no longer possible or supported. This post outlines the changes and the way new hardware may effect you.

New Generation Processors - no Windows 7 or 8.1
New Generation Processors – no Windows 7 or 8.1

Intel 6th Generation Core Processors (Skylake)

If you own a system with an Intel 6th generation Core processor (I7-67xx, I5-6xxx, I3-6xxx released mid-2015 and up to 2018 – known as Skylake) and run Windows 7, you need to consider upgrading to Windows 10 before January 14th 2020 or January 10th 2023 if you run Windows 8.1.

Legacy Operating system support using Skylake generation of processors

Intel 6th Generation "Skylake" CPUs
Intel 6th Generation “Skylake” CPUs

For systems equipped with the older Skylake central processing unit (CPU) (I7-6xxx, I5-6xxx CPU) some systems will continue to be supported in Windows 7 and 8.1. Others will not.

Microsoft will deliver a handful of reminder notifications through the end of 2019 with recommend actions to take ahead of Windows 7 end of support.

Intel 7th Generation Core Processors (Kaby Lake)

Intel 7th Generation "Kaby Lake" CPUs
Intel 7th Generation “Kaby Lake” CPUs

Intel released the 7th generation Core processor to the market in early 2017. This processor was known as Kaby Lake and was the first Intel processor to lack official driver support for Windows 7 or 8.1. The same is true for both the newer AMD Bristol Ridge or Ryzen and the Qualcomm 8996 processors.

Microsoft also chose to disable [block] Windows Update support for using these processors.

The Kaby Lake 7th generation processor offered the optimized step of the newer “process-architecture-optimization” model. This generation featured faster CPU clock speeds, clock speed changes, and higher Turbo frequencies. Kaby Lake also features a new graphics architecture to improve performance in 3D graphics and 4K video playback as well as adding native HDCP 2.2 support.

Kaby Lake also supports the latest version of USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 2), which means speeds of up to 10Gb/s rather than 5Gb/s with Skylake. Again, that’s native support without needing a separate controller or add-in card on the motherboard. Similarly, there’s native support for Thunderbolt 3.0.

Intel 7th Generation - Improvements
Intel 7th Generation – Improvements

Intel’s Kaby Lake (seventh-generation Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, and AMD’s Zen-based chips) while not supported under Windows 7 or 8.1, can operate under Linux, Chrome OS and even Apple macOS (or OS X).

Intel Whiskey Lake release

Intel Whiskey Lake has now (2019) been officially launched, and it’s the latest line of 8th-Generation mobile processors behind the next generation of laptops. Again, Windows 7 or 8.1 has no support in this new core processor technology. So do not expect to use Windows 7 seriously with such hardware.

Innovations : Intel Whiskey Lake
Innovations : Intel Whiskey Lake

Intel 7th generation, AMD Zen & Qualcom 8996 Lockdown for Windows

There is no legacy operating system support (Windows 7, Windows 8.0 or Windows 8.1) for the Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, Whiskey Lake, Ice Lake, AMD’s Bristol Ridge and Ryzen, or Qualcomm 8996 (Snapdragon 820 and 821) equipped systems.

If you attempt to install (or update) Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 with one of the above processors, you will either get 1) a “unsupported hardware” error message, or 2) an update error code 80240037.

Your PC uses a processor that is designed for the latest version of Windows. Because the processor is not supported together with the Windows version that you are currently using your system will miss important security updates.

– no legacy support for new processors
Windows 7 - Unsupported
Windows 7 – Unsupported

Windows could not search for new updates
An error occurred while checking for new updates for your computer.
Error(s) found:
Code 80240037 Windows Update encountered an unknown error

Update error code 80240037
Windows Update encountered an unknown error 80240037
Windows Update encountered an unknown error 80240037

Another issue that face any attempts to install Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on newer hardware is the total lack of native USB 3.0, NVMe SSD, AHCI SATA drivers & SSD M.2 drivers. Missing hardware drivers (and any support) makes the installation near impossible!

Install attempt Windows 7 - fail!
Install attempt Windows 7 – fail!

Microsoft support policies with updated Windows 7 & 8.1 guidelines

Processor Generation Processor Model OS Support
Kaby Lake
Coffee Lake
Whiskey Lake
Ice Lake
7th Generation Core processors and later (i9, i7, i5) Windows 10 ONLY
6th Generation Xeon processors and later
SkyLake 6th Generation Core processors (i7, i5) Windows 7, 8, 8.1
5th Generation Xeon processors

Windows 7 computers with Skylake will continue receiving security updates normally until January 14th 2020.

Windows 7 Support on Skylake has been extended to Jan 2020

Support for systems on the Skylake (6th generation) supported systems list will be extended to the end of support dates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 products respectively,

End of support dates for Windows products are shown below for Win 7 and 8.1.

Client operating systems End of mainstream support End of extended support
Windows 7 January 13, 2015 January 14, 2020
Windows 8 January 9, 2018 January 10, 2023

If you are using Windows 7 or 8.1 on a Intel Skylake system, you are encouraged to migrate to Windows 10 as soon as possible, prior to the end of support dates for Windows 7 (January 14th 2020) and Windows 8.1 (January 10th 2023).

Windows Support

NOTE: Intel’s Kaby Lake, Apollo Lake, and AMD’s Bristol Ridge, and all other future silicon will only be supported on Windows 10.

“Win10 only on new processors” Microsoft Rule

Windows 10 is the only Windows version that is now supported on the following processor generations:

  • Intel seventh (7th)-generation processors or higher
  • AMD Bristol Ridge
  • Qualcomm 8996

Because of how this support policy (Microsoft) is implemented, devices that use the Windows versions below and that use one of the above processors (or a later generation) may no longer be to receive updates through either Windows Update or Microsoft Update.

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows 7

The processor manufactures Intel and AMD are committed to working with Microsoft to make a smooth transition to the Windows support policy.

We are committed to working with Microsoft and our ecosystem partners to help ensure a smooth transition given these changes to Microsoft’s Windows support policy. No, Intel will not be updating Win 7/8 drivers for 7th Gen Intel Core per Microsoft’s support policy change.

– Intel spokeman

AMD’s processor roadmap is fully aligned with Microsoft’s software strategy.

– AMD representative

Note that Microsoft’s support strategy rule applies to the use of the above processors with the use of Windows, but not Linux or Apple Macs.

The reasoning behind Microsoft not supporting Windows 7 with new hardware

With Windows while Microsoft do not control the hardware, there is a strong collaboration between processor manufacturers and operating system coders to avoid having a new processor offer a hardware feature without an operating system to take advantage of it. For example, there are driver and UEFI updates to improve power management, but it can be difficult to offer these capabilities in older operating systems.

Personally speaking, I am relieved that Microsoft have made this policy rule stick for older operating systems. This allows Microsoft to really make the most of new hardware without being compromised by the need to do legacy support for old operating systems. Many times, I have seen both hardware and software performing much better using Windows 10 rather than Windows 7. This is very true for newer hardware.

Microsoft explains its decision here: (quote)

Windows 7 was designed nearly 10 years ago before any x86/x64 SOCs existed. For Windows 7 to run on any modern silicon, device drivers and firmware need to emulate Windows 7’s expectations for interrupt processing, bus support, and power states—which is challenging for WiFi, graphics, security, and more. As partners make customizations to legacy device drivers, services, and firmware settings, customers are likely to see regressions with Windows 7 ongoing servicing.

Microsoft’s Windows 7 Policy on new hardware

Microsoft will not be providing any security updates via Windows Update if you are using Windows 7 or 8.1 on a PC with one of these modern CPUs. Instead, you’ll see an “Unsupported hardware” message that informs you your PC “uses a processor that is designed for the latest version of Windows”.

Microsoft is saying Windows 7 is old for modern hardware, and hardware manufacturers have to write extra code to make Windows 7 understand modern chips. All this extra code can introduce problems.

For Windows 7 to run on any modern silicon, device drivers and firmware need to emulate Windows 7’s expectations for interrupt processing, bus support, and power states – which is challenging for Wi-Fi, graphics, security, and more. As partners make customizations to legacy device drivers, services, and firmware settings, customers are likely to see regressions with Windows 7 ongoing servicing.

New Hardware – Legacy Windows 7 and 8

While you will not be able to use the new Kaby Lake or AMD Zen chips for Windows 7 or Windows 8 PCs, they will boot Linux, the BSDs, Chrome OS, and OS X.

Businesses and enthusiasts who cannot (or won’t) use Windows 10 will need purchase some older Intel Skylake hardware, as that’s the most modern CPU that will continue being supported by Windows 7 until its end of life on January the 14th 2020. From that date, everyone with Windows 7 will be forced to upgrade away from Windows 7 to continue receiving security updates.

Microsoft’s Windows support policy

  • Windows 7 will continue to be supported for security, reliability, and compatibility through January 14, 2020 on previous generation silicon. Windows 8.1 will receive the same support through January 10, 2023. This includes most of the devices available for purchase today by consumers or enterprises.
  • As new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support. This enables us to focus on deep integration between Windows and the silicon, while maintaining maximum reliability and compatibility with previous generations of platform and silicon. For example, Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform on Intel’s Kaby Lake processor, Qualcomm’s 8996 processor, and AMD’s Bristol Ridge and Ryzan processor.
  • Skylake devices (Intel’s 6th generation of processors) on the supported list will also be supported with Windows 7 and 8.1. During the 18-month support period, these systems should be upgraded to Windows 10 to continue receiving support after the period ends.

Windows 10 Embracing Innovation

Compared to Windows 7 PC’s, Intel’s 6th generation Intel Core processors (Skylake) when combined with Windows 10, enables up to 30x better graphics and 3x the battery life – with the unmatched security of Credential Guard utilizing silicon supported virtualization.

Alongside Microsoft and Intel, we have innovation support from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, Samsung, Toshiba and LG.

What Intel Processor’s Support Microsoft Windows 10?

Intel® Processor Platform Formerly Known as (code name) Windows® 10 32-bit Driver Support Windows 10 64-bit Driver Support
9th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors Coffee Lake No Yes
8th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors Coffee Lake No Yes
8th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors Kaby Lake R No Yes

7th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors

Intel® Pentium® Processors

Intel® Celeron® Processors

Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v6

Kaby Lake No Yes

6th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors

Intel® Pentium® Processors

Intel® Celeron® Processors

Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v5

Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors

Skylake No Yes

5th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors

Intel® Pentium® Processors

Intel® Celeron® Processors

Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v4 Family (Workstation only)

Broadwell No Yes
4th Generation Intel® Core™

 

Intel® Pentium® Processors

Intel® Celeron® Processors

Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v3 Family (Workstation only)

Haswell No Yes

3rd Generation Intel® Core™ Processors

Intel® Pentium® Processors

Intel® Celeron® Processors

Ivy Bridge No Yes1

Intel® Pentium® Processors

Intel® Celeron® Processors

Intel® Atom® Processors

Apollo Lake No Yes
Intel® Atom® Processors Cherry Trail Yes Yes

Intel® Pentium® Processors

Intel® Celeron® Processors

Intel® Atom® Processors

Bay Trail Yes Yes

Intel® Pentium® Processors

Intel® Celeron® Processors

Intel Atom® Processors

Braswell Yes Yes

Windows 10 and Intel’s Kaby Lake Processors

Intel’s newer Kaby Lake processors have made some remarkable steps forward. The fabrication has made the individual transistors much smaller, which means more can fir on a single wafer, along with consuming less power.

The Intel Kaby Lake processor is better equipped to handle 4K video, and has more resources allocated to 3D graphics than earlier Intel processors.

These processors support the new Thunderbolt 3 standard, as well as USB 3.1. Thunderbolt 3 has enough bandwidth to power two 4K displays, consumes half the power of its predecessor, uses USB Type-C connections, and has enough bandwidth to power two 4K displays> USB 3.1 is improved and is able to transmit up to 10 gigabits of data per second, and still remaining backwards compatible with previous USB standards.

USB 3.1 (Gen 2)

Along with USB Type C connector, USB also came out with USB 3.1 Gen 2. This generation doubles the Gen 1 speeds to 10Gbps, and it increases the amount of power a device can draw from the host. While USB 2.0 & 3.1 could power smaller devices like portable drives and phones, USB 3.1 Gen 2 is capable of powering laptops and monitors.

Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt, co-designed by Apple and Intel, is a superset of capabilities all rolled into one connection. For Thunderbolt 1 & 2, the standard Mini DisplayPort was used.

Thunderbolt 3 - Innovations
Thunderbolt 3 – Innovations

Windows Operating Systems Processor requirements

The processors listed in the tables below, represent the latest processor generations and models which are supported for the listed Windows Edition.

Windows Edition Intel Processors AMD Processors Qualcomm Processors
Windows 7 and earlier editions Up through the following 6th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7-6xxx, Core m3/m5/m7-6xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v5), and through series equivalent Intel Atom, Celeron and Pentium Processors Up through the following AMD 6th Generation Processors (A-Series Ax-8xxx & E-Series Ex-8xxx & FX-870K) N/A
Windows 8.1 Up through the following 6th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7-6xxx, Core m3/m5/m7-6xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v5), and through series equivalent Intel Atom, Celeron and Pentium Processors Up through the following AMD 6th Generation Processors (A-Series Ax-8xxx & E-Series Ex-8xxx & FX-870K) N/A
Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB 1507 Up through the following 6th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7-6xxx, Core m3/m5/m7-6xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v5), and through series equivalent Intel Atom, Celeron and Pentium Processors Up through the following AMD 6th Generation Processors (A-Series Ax-8xxx & E-Series Ex-8xxx & FX-870K) N/A
Windows 10 1511 Up through the following 7th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7-7xxx, Core m3-7xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v6), and Intel Atom, Celeron, and Pentium Processors Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx) N/A
Windows 10 1607 Up through the following 7th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7/i9-7xxx, Core m3-7xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v6), Intel Atom, Celeron, and Pentium Processors Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx) N/A
Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB 1607 Up through the following 7th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7/i9-7xxx, Core m3-7xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v6), Intel Atom, Celeron, and Pentium Processors Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx) N/A
Windows 10 1703 Up through the following 7th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7/i9-7xxx, Core m3-7xxx, and Xeon E3-xxxx v6) and 8th Generation Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7-8xxxU), Intel Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron, and Pentium Processors Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx), AMD Athlon 2xx, and AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 2xxx N/A
Windows 10 1709 Up through the following 8th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7/i9-8xxxK/U/H/G, and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1]), Intel Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx, AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD EPYC 7xxx[2] Processors Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Windows 10 1803 Up through the following 8th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7/i9-8xxxK/U/H/G, and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1]), Intel Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx, AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD EPYC 7xxx[2] Processors Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and 850
Windows 1809 Up through the following 9th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7/i9-9xxxK), and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1], Intel Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx processors, AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD EPYC 7xxx[2] Qualcomm Snapdragon 850
Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 1809 Up through the following 9th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7/i9-9xxxK), and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1], Intel Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx processors, AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD EPYC 7xxx[2] N/A
Windows 10 1903 Up through the following 9th Generation Intel Processors (Intel Core i3/i5/i7/i9-9xxxK), and Intel Xeon E-21xx[1], Intel Atom (J4xxx/J5xxx and N4xxx/N5xxx), Celeron and Pentium Processors Up through the following AMD 7th Generation Processors (A-Series Ax-9xxx & E-Series Ex-9xxx & FX-9xxx); AMD Athlon 2xx processors, AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 2xxx, AMD Opteron[2] and AMD EPYC 7xxx[2] Qualcomm Snapdragon 850

[1] Intel Xeon processors are supported on Windows 10 Pro for Workstations and Windows 10 Enterprise only

[2] AMD Opteron and AMD EPYC processors are supported on Windows 10 Pro for Workstations and Windows 10 Enterprise only

Windows lifecycle fact sheet

Windows 10: Home, Enterprise, Education, Pro, and Pro for Workstations editions

Windows 10 version history Date of availability End of service for Home, Pro, and Pro for Workstations editions End of service for Enterprise and Education editions
Windows 10, version 1903 May 21, 2019 December 8, 2020 December 8, 2020
Windows 10, version 1809 November 13, 2018 May 12, 2020 May 11, 2021
Windows 10, version 1803 April 30, 2018 November 12, 2019 November 10, 2020
Windows 10, version 1709 October 17, 2017 April 9, 2019 April 14, 2020
Windows 10, version 1703 April 5, 2017* October 9, 2018 October 8, 2019
Windows 10, version 1607 August 2, 2016 April 10, 2018 April 9, 2019
Windows 10, version 1511 November 10, 2015 October 10, 2017 October 10, 2017
Windows 10, released July 2015 (version 1507) July 29, 2015 May 9, 2017  May 9, 2017

Home edition does not support the deferral of feature updates and will therefore typically receive a new version of Windows 10 prior to the end-of-service date shown.

Not all features in an update will work on all devices. A device may not be able to receive updates if the device hardware is incompatible, lacks current drivers, or is otherwise outside the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) support period.

Windows 7 and 8.1

Client operating systems End of mainstream support End of extended support
Windows 8.1 January 9, 2018 January 10, 2023
Windows 7, service pack 1* January 13, 2015 January 14, 2020

Notes: Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, have limited support when running on new processors and chipsets from manufacturers like Intel, AMD, NVidia, and Qualcomm (as discussed in the begining of this post).

Will Windows 7 still be usable after January 14th 2010?

Yes you can, Windows 7 will operate just the same, however, it will be vulnerable to security risks and viruses as Microsoft will discontinue the new update support. You will likely see more “End of support” notifications on your Windows 7 screen after January 14, 2020.

Windows 7 - Ends Jan 2020
Windows 7 – Ends Jan 2020

Can I upgrade my current Windows 7 to Windows 10 for free?

Yes, in 2019 is is still possible to upgrade a valid and activated Windows 7 or 8.1 system to Windows 10 – for free. Read this link how to do this.

Windows 10 Upgrade
Windows 10 Upgrade