The discovery last week that millions of computers upgraded to Windows 10 may not be supported much earlier than expected is an unexpected consequence of Microsoft's continued turn to Windows as a Service.
With the old model, it was easy enough to figure out where we were with Windows, because Microsoft has published dates that stop supporting various versions of its operating system.
"Every Windows product has a life cycle. The life cycle begins when a product is released and ends when it is no longer supported. Knowing the key dates in this life cycle helps you make informed decisions about when to upgrade or upgrade. make other changes to your software, ”says Microsoft.
For example, Windows 7 arrives at the end of extended support in January of 2020: after that you have no other security updates.
Sure, there are some who grumble, whenever their favorite functional stops being backed up. There are others who prefer staying in the old version of Windows rather than upgrading. But it was quite clear to everyone what would happen and when.
Windows 10 is all a little different.
Windows 10, like the earlier versions of Windows, still have an expiration date in October of 2020 and as the expiration date for extended support in October of 2025.
But Windows 10 is delivered as a service by 'Windows as a Service', which makes everything a little more complicated. Today, much more than in previous versions, Windows is constantly evolving, with minor updates every month and a major update every six months.
For many users, this is great because a constant stream of updates and new features is constantly showing something new to their computers.
But it has some other consequences, as some system owners discovered last week.
Some computers, upgraded to Windows 10 about two years ago, are reportedly ruled out by Microsoft's ongoing updates, notably by the big update of Windows 10 Creators. This was, according to Microsoft, because the devices use Clover Trail processors, which Intel no longer supports. Millions of these computers were sold from 2013 to 2014 globally.
So, due to the way Windows works as a service, these devices will stop receiving security updates early next year.
Microsoft has made it clear that this could happen, as Windows Life Cycle page reports:
A device may not be able to receive updates if the device hardware is incompatible, does not support current drivers, or is out of Original Equipment Manufacturer's OEM support period. "
But the situation created with Clover Trail was the first time most of us realized that this could happen.
Microsoft claims that if hardware manufacturers stop supporting a device or key components or stop updating drivers, Windows 10 may not work well.
However, it has already reported that it will provide security updates for these computers up to 2023, which is absolutely right.
One big question is whether there will be more such cases, with the support fee coming before time, due to hardware that is not supported.
It should be noted that consumers or businesses have no indication of the date when hardware vendors stop supporting processors (or other components) within their computers.
On the other hand, no one can expect a computer to work forever. The operating system also changes hardware.
And it's true that a similar scenario is happening constantly on smartphones, where the idea of free, rolling OS upgrades has been standardized for some time now.
Often when there is a new version of Android or iOS, some old hardware just is incompatible and is not upgraded. In this way we have the device upgrade phenomenon every three and a bit. But what customers really want is certainty.
Switching to Windows as a Service should have many benefits for both computer users and Microsoft itself, which wants to change all their Windows 10 functionalities. Switching to Windows as a service seems to serve Microsoft in a great many ways, and the company should become clearer about how the new service will evolve.