For clarification, Microsoft formally terminated support for Windows 7 in January 2015, regardless of what processor you’re using. But people who are still using Windows 8 will continue to receive updates through the end of 2023, if they agree to use older processors.
The reason? Microsoft quietly announced some time ago that they’d only be providing support on the newest processors for Windows 10.
From a practical standpoint, what this means for you, as a user, is that if you’ve got a PC running Windows 7, it’s time to update immediately. You’re no longer getting critical security patches, or updates of any kind.
If you’re running Windows 8 and you want to be able to continue getting security updates through the scheduled support termination date in 2023, don’t upgrade your processor.
The threshold is Kaby Lake (Intel’s seventh-gen processor), and Bristol Ridge (AMD’s seventh-gen processor). If you’re using processors older than these, your OS will continue to scan for and automatically download security updates as they are available.
If you upgrade to either of those processors, however, you’ll get one of the following two error messages.
Unsupported Hardware […] Your PC uses a processor that isn’t supported on this version of Windows and you won’t receive updates.
Windows could not search for new updates
An error occurred while checking for new updates for your computer.
Code 80240037 Windows Update encountered an unknown error.
Whichever flavor of error message you get, the root cause is the same. The newer hardware simply isn’t compatible with older OS security updates.
Clearly, Microsoft’s hope here is that by putting this restriction in place, it will provide yet more incentive to take the plunge and update your OS.