Partners: Microsoft Extension Of Windows End-Of-Life Policies 'Great News'

Microsoft is backing down from its stringent end-of-life policies for commercial customers with Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 on Skylake systems.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company previously had said it would pull Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 support for systems using Intel’s sixth-generation Skylake processors as early as 2017. Thursday the company said it had extended that deadline.

’Enterprise customers are moving to Windows 10 faster than any version of Windows. At the same time, we recognize that, in some instances, customers have a few systems that require longer deployment time frames. We listened to this feedback and … we have extended the support period,’ said Shad Larsen, director of Windows Business Planning, in a blog post.

[Related: As Windows 10 Free Upgrade Expires, Anniversary Update Is Set To Launch]

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Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group, said in a January blog post that after July 17, 2017, only the ’most critical’ security fixes would be released for systems with a Skylake processor running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 -- and Windows 10 would be the only supported Windows platform for Intel’s upcoming Kaby Lake processors, expected to hit the market later this year.

Now, Windows 7 and 8.1 will be supported with all security updates on Skylake processors until their end of life. The compatibility and security fixes will be published until Jan. 14, 2020, for Windows 7, and Jan. 10, 2023 for Windows 8.1, according to Microsoft.

Joe Balsarotti, president of Software To Go, a St. Peters, Mo.-based Microsoft partner, said the extension is ’great news.’

’The initial announcement didn't seem to make sense to me as it gave AMD an obvious invitation to take market share for anyone with 'real-world' refresh cycles,’ he said.

David Felton, founder of Microsoft partner Canaan Technology, Norwalk, Conn., said many of his company's customers would be upset if their Windows 7 support on new, Skylake-powered devices ended in a year.

’Most of our clients are on a three- to five-year refresh cycle, and … bought new hardware with Windows 7,’ he said. ’So many clients are completing their second year of the upgrade cycle, and would be upset to find out their Windows 7 support would end in a year.’

Since the operating system’s release last July, Microsoft has been pushing customers to upgrade to Windows 10 by using techniques that some see as aggressive. For instance, if customers who had not yet upgraded clicked on a Red X at the bottom of the Windows 10 updates box, the computer would automatically begin upgrading as opposed to clicking out of the window.

Following widespread criticism, Microsoft in June said it would make the upgrade process easier and more clear.