Microsoft will rest its jackboot on Windows 7, 8.1's throat on new Intel CPUs in 2018 – not 2017
Some updates for an extra year then just security fixes
Stand well back: Microsoft has had a bright idea. Rather than royally screwing over people running Windows 7 and 8.1 on new Intel hardware, it's just going to give them a rough ride instead.
In January, Microsoft said it would only offer software updates for "security, reliability, and compatibility" fixes for Windows 7 and 8.1 on Intel Skylake processors until July 2017. After that cutoff point, only critical security fixes would be made available – and only if they weren't a chore for Microsoft to develop and release.
Basically: if you bought a new PC with a 6th-generation Core i5 or i7, and somehow held out with Windows 7, you'll be a third-class citizen on Planet Redmond.
Now Microsoft has been persuaded that this wasn't very nice. Corporations just getting round to installing Windows 7 on refreshed hardware won't have been best pleased. So, instead, Microsoft is extending the release of security-reliability-compatibility-only updates until July 2018. After that, installations of Windows 7 and 8.1 on Skylake chips will continue to receive just security patches – even the ones that are a drag for Microsoft.
Windows 7 extended support on all processors is due to end in January 2020, and January 2023 for Windows 8.1.
"We’ve received feedback from customers at various stages of planning and deployment of Windows 10. Led by their feedback, today we are sharing a few updates to our Skylake support policy," explained Jeremy Korst, Microsoft's general manager of Windows marketing.
Fine, but installing Windows 7 on a system sporting a flashy new Intel Skylake chip may turn into a pain in the ASCII for you: you won't be able to easily boot from a USB thumb drive, for example, because the operating system is missing support for the processor's xHCI USB controller. One solution is to boot a Linux USB stick, create a partition on the hard drive, copy the Windows 7 install image onto the drive, and then boot from the new partition.
The OS will also lack support for other Skylake hardware features, like its energy-efficient power controller, but let's face it: you'll probably be too distracted fending off Microsoft's Windows 10 nagware to notice anyway. ®