In a worrying glimpse into our potential future, Microsoft has discontinued Windows 10 support for a number of Intel Atom based PCs, less than two years after its latest operating system launched. If you own a PC that has a discontinued processor, when you try to install the Windows 10 Creators Update you are greeted with the message “Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC. Uninstall this app now because it isn't compatible with Windows 10.”
It’s quite a bizarre message really, as trying to uninstall Windows problem wouldn’t go down well at all for most users. In fact, as you’d expect, there is no ‘Windows 10’ app to uninstall in the Windows Settings. Should the user attempt to install the Creators Update, Acer handily says “Icons and/or text throughout the Windows interface may not appear at all, or may appear as solid color blocks on some devices.”
The following Intel Clover Trail processors are those affected:
- Atom Z2760
- Atom Z2520
- Atom Z2560
- Atom Z2580
They’re not great CPUs, and are usually to be found in fairly low-power tablet/notebook hybrids, but it was a worrying sign of how Microsoft can just cut off support without a moment’s notice. Read the small print and all that. The move flies in the face of Microsoft’s new Windows as a Service (WaaS) model, under which it promised users would continue to receive regular feature and security updates to keep their PCs secure.
“This is more than a one-time upgrade,” said Terry Myerson, Windows VP, when Windows 10 was announced. “Once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – at no cost.” I guess he’s covering their asses with that one because the support lifetime of the device could be just about anything.
It raises plenty of questions over how long all of our hardware is going to be supported by Windows 10. Some of these Atom CPUs are less than five years old, could we potentially see more hardware support dropped soon? Hardware manufacturers are allegedly working with Microsoft to sort this problem out, with Microsoft saying “[We] are working with our partners to provide compatible drivers for these processors. Until then, Windows Update will prevent devices containing one of the processors listed above from installing the Creators Update.” That was April, and we’ve heard nothing since.
The cynical part of me concludes that hardware manufacturers really don’t have a huge interest in sorting this problem out. By their standards, a five-year-old CPU is almost definitely due an upgrade, and an error message could be the prod a user needs to get a new PC.
Where do you stand on the axed support for Intel Atom CPUs? Is this a worrying sign of things to come for Windows 10, or just old, underpowered CPUs that don’t cut it anymore?