Windows 7 Updates now Blocked on New Computers : Solution 2017

Microsoft Blocks Windows 7 Updates on New Computers with Intel Kaby Lake, AMD Ryzen, or other unsupported processors

Update: Microsoft does not want you to keep installing Windows 7 (or 8) on new computers with newer chips. If you try, you’ll see an “Unsupported hardware” message and your PC won’t receive any security updates from Windows Update. Other hardware features may not work properly, either. What to do?

Microsoft released this 'update' on March 16. Among other things, the change-log mentions the following:

"Enabled detection of processor generation and hardware support when PC tries to scan or download updates through Windows Update."

This update marked the implementation of a policy change they announced some time ago, where Microsoft stated that they would not be supporting Windows 7 or 8.1 on the next generation Intel, AMD and Qualcomm processors.

Interesting, considering the extended support periods for Windows 7 and 8.1 still have a few years left, and will be ending on January 4, 2020 and January 10, 2023 respectively.

Notes: There have even been people with older Intel and AMD systems who have been locked out of Windows Update because of these updates (see #7 and this).

Summary: Microsoft Now Requires You Use Windows 10 With the Newest CPUs

This is somewhat confusing because Windows 7 is in its extended support period, and is officially supported by Microsoft with security updates until the year 2020.

Windows 8.1 is still in its mainstream support period and is officially supported until 2023.

In theory, these operating systems should work fine, even on newer hardware.

Historically, Microsoft hasn’t enforced any sort of hardware limitations for older versions of Windows.

Even after Windows 7 was released, you could continue installing Windows XP on the new PC hardware being released, if you liked.

But Microsoft now has a new policy, which they announced at the beginning of 2016.

New CPUs will require the latest version of Windows. “Going forward, as new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support,” explains a Microsoft blog post.

This doesn’t even just mean Windows 10—it means the latest update to Windows 10, too.

This policy is now in place. If you have a PC with an Intel 7th-generation CPU (Kaby Lake) or AMD’s 7th-generation processor (Bristol Ridge or Ryzen), you’ll see an error message and Windows Update won’t offer your PC and security updates. New CPU architectures will have the same limitation going forward.

Microsoft initially announced that only some computer models running Intel’s 6th-generation CPUs (Skylake) would be supported with security updates, but most PCs with Skylake would be left out in the cold. This came as a shock, as it was announced after some people had already purchased Skylake PCs and installed Windows 7 on them. However, Microsoft eventually backed off on this threat. Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs with Skylake will continue receiving security updates normally until 2020. Instead, Microsoft is firmly drawing a line in the sand with the 7th-generation CPUs.

This policy also applies to Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Server PCs will need the latest version of Windows Server to get security updates.

“Unsupported Hardware” Won’t Get Security Updates

Microsoft notes that users may see other error messages when they use Windows Update, including:

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.

The cause, according to Microsoft, is that "new processor generations require the latest Windows version for support". Microsoft mentions seventh generation Intel processors, AMD "Bristol Ridge" and Qualcomm "8996" processor families specifically on the support page.

What to Do If You Receive This Message

A Solution is available (created by "Zeffy") and can be downloaded here

This software solution disables the "Unsupported Hardware" message in Windows Update, and allows you to continue installing updates on Windows 7 and 8.1 systems with Intel Kaby Lake, AMD Ryzen, or other unsupported processors.

Here’s what this actually means: Microsoft won’t provide you with security updates via Windows Update if you install 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”.

In other words, Microsoft is saying you should install Windows 10 on these PCs. Windows 7 and 8.1 don’t actually include code that prevent these operating systems from working on the new CPUs. Instead, Microsoft is just blocking PCs with this modern hardware from updating via Windows Update.

This official lack of support from Microsoft also means that hardware manufacturers may not bother releasing drivers that enable all the functionality of the new hardware on Windows 7.

According to Microsoft, you may also see an error message in the Windows Update window if you install Windows on a PC with unsupported hardware. The error message will read “Windows could not search for new updates”, “An error occurred while checking for new updates for your computer”, or “Code 80240037 Windows Update encountered an unknown error”.

So why Microsoft will not Let You Use Windows 7 With Modern CPU's ?

Here’s how Microsoft explains its decision:

“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 Microsoft partners make customization's to legacy device drivers, services, and firmware settings, customers are likely to see regressions with Windows 7 ongoing servicing.

In other words, 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.

Microsoft says it has a commitment “to deliver security, reliability, and compatibility” to Windows 7 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,” explains Microsoft.

This "policy" is about the level of integration between Windows 10’s new code and the latest hardware platforms, according to Microsoft.

The new policy “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.” Microsoft notes that this “is entirely consistent with modern technology trends”, by which they mean smartphones and tablets.

Microsoft Could Make Updates Available, But The Would Rather Not Do the Work

Here’s the 'modern' version of that explanation: Microsoft and hardware manufacturers want to make a clean break.

Microsoft wants to test updates to Windows 7 and 8.1 on all the officially supported hardware. It’s certainly less work for Microsoft to declare new hardware unsupported and stop testing updates on it. New CPU platforms do include major changes to processor power management and other features, so they probably will work best on Windows 10. Hardware manufacturers would also rather just create drivers for Windows 10 rather than developing drivers for Windows 7 and 8.1, too.

But it’s not impossible for Microsoft and hardware manufacturers to do this work. Microsoft has never before stopped supporting an older version of Windows on new hardware during its official support period. Microsoft and driver developers could do the hard work to test these updates. Alternatively, Microsoft could just warn users that their hardware will not work fully with Windows 7 but continue to offer updates. But they’ve chosen not to. Blocking security updates on new hardware is something Microsoft has never done before, and it caught people off guard.

Summary: