Microsoft announced towards the end of 2016 that Windows 10 would be the only supported operating system for the new 7th generation of CPUs, including Intel Kaby Lake and AMD Bristol Ridge.
There have been several articles in the tech and “regular” press which suggest this is catching people unaware so let’s take a look at what’s going on.
“future silicon platforms including Intel’s upcoming 7th Gen Intel Core (Kaby Lake) processor family and AMD’s 7th generation processors (e.g. Bristol Ridge) will only be supported on Windows 10, and all future silicon releases will require the latest release of Windows 10.”
It seems the impact of this is now starting to be felt out in the real world as evidenced by a new Microsoft knowledge base article recently published here. People using devices featuring these new processors, but running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, are starting to encounter error messages such as:
Why are Microsoft doing this?
In a blog post from March 18, 2016, Terry Myerson (Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of the Windows and Devices Group) stated:
“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” which will enable Microsoft “to focus on deep integration between Windows and the silicon”.
Microsoft are using this as an opportunity to remove extraneous legacy support elements from Windows 10, as an opportunity to make the relationship between the OS and the hardware as smooth and slick as possible.
What does this mean?
Simply put, if your organization wants to experience the various benefits offered by the latest CPU technologies – you will need to embrace Windows 10.
If you aren’t ready to move to Windows 10 just yet, this is going to need some inter-departmental cooperation. It will depend on the internal make up of your organisation but if you have separate people/teams responsible for topics such as:
They’re all going to need to get in a room/on a web conference together and have a discussion.
For example, without a joined-up approach:
“We’re not ready to move to Windows 10 yet, we need to do further testing, so we’ll start the migration in October 2017.”
“We’re overdue for our hardware refresh. Let’s ensure we get devices with the latest Kaby Lake CPUs so we future proof ourselves for as long as possible.”
Result = An unsupported and potentially unsecure desktop estate.
You will need to work with your procurement teams to ensure only appropriate devices – those with 6th generation CPUS – are purchased. If care isn’t taken when purchasing new devices, organisations still running Windows 7/8.1 may end up with an estate that is only partly supported by Microsoft and only partially able to be kept up to date and fully secured.
This means that the decision on moving to Windows 10 may not be completely driven by the same factors as before.
As devices with 6th generation processors become more scarce, prices may well increase…meaning that the decision stay on Windows 7 will start to negatively impact an organisations’ hardware budget.
It will also become harder to find these devices – meaning the procurement team must expend more time and energy to acquire older, more expensive hardware. Something I’m sure the department head won’t be thrilled about.
The Windows Insiders program has been with us since late 2014 and allows users to access early builds of Windows 10, giving them the ability to test out new features etc. It could be thought of as crowd-sourcing user testing – enabling Microsoft to see what is/isn’t working very early in the lifecycle and helping the final builds to be as solid as possible. While this works very well, there are inherent risks as these are pre-release builds and it has been aimed primarily at tech-savvy home users.
However Microsoft have now announced the introduction of Windows Insider Program for IT Professionals – the registration form for which can be found here – https://insider.windows.com/home/itpro
The aim is to help organisations “deploy new services and tools more quickly, to secure (their) applications (and) to increase productivity” and to give “you confidence in the stability of your environment”.
Is this something you’d be happy for your IT department to be involved in?
What is Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection?
Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, or as the cool kids call it – WDATP, is a feature unique to Windows 10 Enterprise E5 that helps organisations detect, investigate and respond to attacks on their network using a combination of cloud analytics, behavioural sensors and human researchers.
The upcoming “Creators” update to Windows 10 – due to become available in April 2017 – brings several improvements to WDATP.
If you’re yet to make the move to Windows 10 (or at currently on Windows 10 E3), looking at how WDATP can help strengthen your security may be of interest. Equally, if you’re already on Windows 10 E5, these new features may impact how quickly you want to deploy the upcoming Creators update.
I’m keen to hear your thoughts on Windows 10. Have you already adopted? Do you plan to migrate soon? If not, why not? Let me know! If you want to know more about anything else Windows 10 related – get in touch: email@example.com.