Windows 7 support dropped for CPUs without SSE2
Microsoft supports Windows 7 officially until January 2020; while the company won't end support for the operating system that it launched in 2009 early, it appears that Microsoft is trying to get users to upgrade to newer versions of Windows by limiting support and ignoring certain issues that were introduced in recent updates.
Microsoft revealed this month that its support agents won't support users anymore in the Windows 7 or Windows 8 forums on the company's Microsoft Answers support site despite the fact that Windows 7 and 8 are still supported by the company.
Woody Leonhard spotted another incident of Microsoft dropping support for some systems running Windows 7; Windows 7 users and admins who followed this year's Patch Tuesdays, you may remember that the KB article for the March 2018 update for Windows 7 mentioned a known issue affecting devices with processors that did not support SSE2.
A Stop error occurs on computers that don't support Streaming Single Instructions Multiple Data (SIMD) Extensions 2 (SSE2).
The known issue appeared in the list of issues on the April, May and June 2018 patch KB articles as well. Up until very recently, Microsoft stated that it was working on a resolution to fix the issue.
Microsoft is working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release.
The June KB article for Windows 7 was changed by Microsoft last week; the company removed the known issue from the page but did not provide any information why it did so. Was the issue fixed?
You need to open the previous KB articles, for instance the one for May KB4103718 to find out what happened. There you find the Stop error issue still listed but instead of stating that a fix is in the works Microsoft simply states that devices without support for SSE2 need to be upgraded with a new processor or that virtualization needs to be used.
Upgrade your machines with a processor that supports SSE2 or virtualize those machines.
In other words: Microsoft quietly dropped support for any processor that does not support SSE2. The company won't fix the issue and even removed the information from the most recent patch KB article leaving affected users and admins in the dark.
SSE2 is a requirement for installing Windows 8 and newer versions of Windows, but it was never a requirement for installing Windows 7. Microsoft's system requirements page for Windows 7 makes no mention of the limitation.
The change affects devices with Pentium III processors. The total number of devices affected by this is unknown but users are in a predicament because of it. While Windows 7 runs fine if recent patches are not installed, it means that the system won't be protected by the latest security patches anymore that Microsoft released for the operating system.
Upgrades to newer versions of Windows are out of the question as SSE2 is required for that. The only three options that affected users have is to continue using an unpatched system, upgrade the process of the system or get a new PC altogether, or switch to Linux.
The Pentium III was not a new processor by any stretch when Windows 7 was released and Microsoft probably did a cost analysis to determine whether it is reasonable to patch the issue that affects only SSE2-less processors or simply drop support for those and live with the negative feedback instead.
The handling by Microsoft is anything but open or straightforward. Instead of communicating the change clearly to users, the least the company should do, it simply removed the Known Issue from the most recent KB article which looks like an attempt to obfuscate the issue to me.
People paid for the operating system and guaranteed support until 2020, and Microsoft should honor that in my opinion.
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