Microsoft confirmed this week that devices running Intel Clover Trail (Atom) processors, will not be receiving support for Microsoft’s most recent release of Windows 10, called the Creators Update. Instead, Microsoft promises to support these older processors using the previous Windows 10 Anniversary Update release, version 1607. Microsoft promises to provide security updates until January 2023, which coincides with the end of support schedule for Windows 8.
Certain Intel Atom Processors Will Not Support Future Revisions of Windows 10
So, what does this mean for you? Well, it means, you won’t be able to run the Windows 10 Creators Update or the upcoming Fall Creators Update (1709). The good news is that the still solid Windows 10 Anniversary Update, launched in August of 2016 has a lot of years left in it. The unfortunate part is that the ongoing refinements users look forward to in each Feature Update will be unavailable to these systems.
Microsoft provided a statement to the press explaining its decision to end support.
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. Source: Microsoft
To find out if your system is one of those affected, click Start > Settings > System > About and look at the processor information for details. In my case, I am running an Intel Core i7, so, I have nothing to worry about. If yours says Intel Atom with the designations Z2760, Z2580, Z2560 or Z2520, then you are unfortunately on the “no” list for future feature upgrades.
The Intel Atom was originally launched in 2008 and was specifically designed for what was known as the netbook form factor. Netbooks were all the rage back in the 2008 to 2011 years. It was to the point that Microsoft had to give its Windows XP operating system a reprieve just to support the underpowered processors. The Windows 7 release, launched in 2009, was more optimized for the architecture.
Intel Atom survived into the Windows 8 wave by embracing the new, cheap, 8-inch tablet form factors that flooded the market at the time. Ironically, the same performance scenarios these Intel processors were designed for is what has prevented them from qualifying for future upgrades. This is a reality we have to accept going forward and it’s not necessarily unique to Windows 10. Back into 2012, my Dell Dimension 8300, with its 3.2 GHz Intel Netburst met the minimum requirements, but because of specific security requirements at the processor level, it didn’t make the list.
We are interested in hearing your thoughts about these changes. Will this force you to purchase a new Windows 10 ready device? If so, let us know in the comments.