Microsoft has dropped support for Windows 7 on a range of PCs dating back to turn of the millennium.
PCs whose processors lack support for multimedia instructions called SSE2 will no longer receive security updates for Windows 7, Microsoft has confirmed.
The issue first arose in March this year, when Microsoft issued a security update, (KB4088875), which generated a stop error on computers that didn't support SSE2.
While Microsoft initially indicated it was working to resolve the error on Windows 7 machines, it later changed its advice, telling owners of affected PCs to "upgrade your machines with a processor that supports SSE2 or virtualize those machines".
The result is that cumulative Windows 7 patches won't install on PCs lacking SSE2 support from the March update onwards. Those who want to continue using Windows 7 on such machines will have to risk using PCs unpatched against the latest security threats.
Windows 7 was sold with the condition that security updates would continue to be issued until January 2020. But TechRepublic's sister site ZDNet points out that Microsoft is entitled to make such a change under its Business, Developer and Desktop Operating Systems Policy, which states: "Older products may not meet today's more demanding security requirements. Microsoft may be unable to provide security updates for older products".
CPUs have supported SSE2 since 2000, with the multimedia instructions having been commonplace in processors since 2004 — meaning you're unlikely to be affected unless you've held on to a Pentium III-era machine.
Last year Microsoft confirmed that laptops running on Intel Atom Clover Trail chipsets will not receive any Windows 10's feature updates after the Anniversary Update, issued in summer last year.
- Microsoft looks to add security, stability with Windows 10 IoT Core Services (ZDNet)
- Microsoft Windows 10 security pack knocks out weeks of work in a few clicks (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft: Here's our 4 step plan for getting rid of passwords forever (TechRepublic)
- 7 Windows 10 security features that could help prevent cyberattacks against your business (TechRepublic)
- Cheat sheet: How to become a cybersecurity pro (TechRepublic)
- How to beef up your browser security (Download.com)
Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.