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January 15, 2016

Windows 10 Embracing Silicon Innovation

There is an update to the Skylake policy as of 3/18/16 that can be found here.

Updated 1/22/16: Visit this link for the list of specific new Skylake devices we will support to run Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 until July 17, 2017.

Last week at CES we were excited to see Windows 10 devices from many of our partners, including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, and Toshiba win over 50 major awards, including Best of CES, Best 2-in-1, Best Gaming Laptop and many more. It has been awesome to welcome hundreds of new Windows 10 devices – adding even more options for people choosing Windows 10 around the world. This builds on the momentum we’ve seen, with over 200 million active devices already running Windows 10 and unprecedented demand from our enterprise customers.

We’re humbled by this early success and we’re grateful to our partners who are helping make it happen. In addition to our OEM partners, throughout the design of Windows 10, we’ve been working closely with our silicon partners, including Intel, AMD, NVidia, and Qualcomm, on collaborative engineering to ensure Windows 10 takes full advantage of new silicon features. We continue to partner with these companies on their roadmaps, to achieve breakthroughs in performance, imaging, connectivity, power, graphics, and more as the Windows platform evolves with them. The modern computing world is being defined by this deep integration between silicon, platform, and hardware and we are excited by the joint innovations ahead with these partners. Always, we want Windows to lead in both adoption of new silicon innovation and also product quality. This is the dual goal that drives our investments and focus.

We are particularly excited about the work we’ve done with Intel on their new 6th generation Intel Core processors (code named “Skylake”). Compared to Windows 7 PC’s, 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. We and our partners are continuing to invest, innovate, and update to drive continued performance improvements across Windows 10 and Skylake devices.

As we approach Intel’s Business Launch for Skylake, we’d like to share more details on our recommendations for enterprise customers on Windows 10 and Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, including clarifications to our support policy. As we’ve done since the beginning of our work with Windows 10, we want to communicate transparently with our customers on what they can expect from their experience on Windows, with a focus on Windows and silicon.

We’re pleased to work with our industry partners on expanding the number of commercial Windows devices:

“Alongside Microsoft and Intel, we are delivering innovation worthy of a new generation of computing,” said Jeff Clarke, Vice Chairman, Operations and President, Client Solutions, Dell. “We are deeply invested in delivering incredible experiences on our award-winning XPS products and Precision workstations and newly launched Latitude notebooks and Optiplex desktops that give customers the very best of Windows 10 and Skylake. For enterprise customers who want the benefits of Skylake advances on earlier versions of Windows, we have services to help in their migration planning and implementation. We will partner closely with Microsoft to ensure we’re delivering the secure and reliable experiences our customers expect.”

 “We are excited about the new generation of computing enabled by Intel 6th generation Core processors and Windows 10,” said Ron Coughlin, President, Personal Systems at HP Inc. “Our new device line-up, including the HP Elite X2, HP EliteBook Folio and HP EliteBook 1040 G3 takes advantage of these most advanced capabilities to deliver terrific experiences for our customers. We’re also pleased to be working closely with Microsoft to ensure enterprise customers purchasing new devices with earlier versions of Windows and Intel 6th generation Core processors have a secure and reliable experience. We are jointly dedicated to delivering solutions for our customers in this new generation of computing.”

“Lenovo is committed to driving innovation and is inspired by the technology advances enabled by Windows 10 and 6th generation Intel Core processors. Our newest products, such as ThinkPad X1 and Lenovo YOGA, are designed to deliver significant new capabilities to customers around the world,” said Gerry Smith, COO Lenovo PC, Enterprise and Global Operations, executive vice president, Lenovo. “We applaud Microsoft’s commitment to helping all of their customers take advantage of the Windows operating system family and in particular, leveraging the latest innovations on new Windows 10 devices. We will continue to work alongside Microsoft and Intel to ensure customers maintain the highest level of confidence in the security, reliability and performance of devices running on Windows and Intel platforms.”

“We share Microsoft’s commitment to delivering quality experiences on Windows, while ushering in a new era of innovation with our 6th generation Intel Core processors,” said Kirk Skaugen, Senior Vice President, General Manager PC Client Group at Intel. “These new processors set a new standard for PC performance – blazing fast and feature packed with built-in security. Combined with new features from Windows 10 like Windows Hello and Cortana, people can have unmatched productivity while they work and play on the go. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Microsoft and share their strong commitment to our joint customers.”

Helping Enterprise Customers Prepare for Next Generation Processors on Windows 10

As we prepare for the adoption of new devices within our enterprise customer base, we’re excited that we’re seeing the fastest ever adoption of Windows 10, with more than 76% of our enterprise customers in active pilots and over 22 million devices running Windows 10 across enterprise and education customers. Windows 10 was designed as an in-place upgrade for our enterprise customers, and we are excited about an incredible line-up of Windows 10 devices from our partners. We’re excited to hear the feedback from our customers on their rapid move to Windows 10, including:

“Windows 10 promises to provide us with the tools that we need to respond to today’s new security threats – right out of the box. The best part of Windows 10 is getting new features on our devices every few months, and monthly security updates. The newest technology is simply delivered to us – something we have never been able to do on our own in the past.” Dorothy Stephenson, Director, ITS – Kimberly-Clark

“Our last operating system upgrade, rolled out to 50,000 desktops and devices, took us almost 3 years. We will roll out Windows 10 to 20,000 devices in 4 months with a much better user experience.” Mike Brett, General Manager, ICT Infrastructure – Australian Government Department of Human Services

“Windows 10 brings a new set of capabilities for identity, information protection and malware resistance. This will help remove reliance on third party security solutions and give NASCAR an end-to-end safe and secure computing environment.” Steve Worling, Managing Director, NASCAR Information Services

Our Commitment to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Customers

At the same time, we know many of these customers continue to rely on Windows 7 for its well understood reliability and compatibility. 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.

We want to help our customers prepare for their Windows 10 upgrade. To do that, we will deliver a list of specific new Skylake devices we will support to run Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. This approach ensures our customers can upgrade now to new devices their employees will love while preparing for a Windows 10 upgrade. We will post this list next week and it will continue to be updated as we work closely with our partners. For the listed systems, along with our OEM partners, we will perform special testing to help future proof customers’ investments, ensure regular validation of Windows Updates with the intent of reducing potential regressions including security concerns, and ensure all drivers will be on Windows Update with published BIOS/UEFI upgrading tools, which will help unlock the security and power management benefits of Windows 10 once the systems are upgraded. We’re grateful to the strong cooperation from our partners to support our customers.

Support Policy Updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Customers

With Windows 7 now in extended support, we are focused on our commitment to deliver security, reliability, and compatibility to our installed base on their current systems. Redesigning Windows 7 subsystems to embrace new generations of silicon would introduce churn into the Windows 7 code base, and would break this commitment. Thus, today we are clarifying our 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.
  • Going forward, 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 upcoming “Kaby Lake” silicon, Qualcomm’s upcoming “8996” silicon, and AMD’s upcoming “Bristol Ridge” silicon.
  • Through July 17, 2017, Skylake devices 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. After July 2017, the most critical Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 security updates will be addressed for these configurations, and will be released if the update does not risk the reliability or compatibility of the Windows 7/8.1 platform on other devices.

In clarifying this policy, we are prioritizing transparency with enterprises on where to find the highest reliability and best supported Windows experience:  Windows 10 on any silicon, Windows 7 on the down-level silicon it was designed for, or a device on the support list. Although this silicon and platform alignment is entirely consistent with modern technology trends, we understand the need for our enterprise customers to adapt to it in the Windows context— and we stand by ready to partner with them on their Windows deployments. Companies of any size interested in upgrading to Windows 10 should contact their Microsoft technology representative today for assistance.

We are committed to helping our customers embrace the latest innovation, enabled by the significant leap forward in silicon innovation combined with Windows 10, and delivered on incredible hardware. Our long-standing support of our partners and the ecosystem has never been stronger, as we all share strong optimism for the road ahead. Always, what guides us is a customer-first approach – in this case, providing clear guidance to our customers on what they can expect and strong alignment with our OEM partners on our joint commitment to all of our Windows customers.