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Blocking Windows 7, 8.1 updates for Kaby Lake, Ryzen chips imminent
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-03-16 23:09:20

Ars Technica reports:

A recently published Knowledge Base article suggests that Microsoft is going to block Windows Updates for owners of the latest Intel and AMD processors if they try to run Windows 7 or 8.1.

Last year, Microsoft announced a shift in the way it would support Windows. Going forward, new processors, including Intel's Kaby Lake and AMD's recently-released Ryzen, would require the newest version of Windows. Users of Windows 7 and 8.1 would be out of luck, with Microsoft having no plans to support the new chips on the old operating systems.

Take note.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-30 -- 31-40 -- 41-50 -- 51-51
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Remember BIOS lies?
By malxau on 2017-03-16 23:30:27
It used to be fairly common to see BIOS configuration options to limit CPUID, maximum memory, or change PnP device initialization to support old operating systems including XP and OS/2. Who would ship a Kaby Lake system without such support today, noting that it would alienate a good fraction of potential users?

It also seems like a matter of time before hacks/shims are built to ensure Windows Update doesn't see the native CPUID when checking for updates.
Permalink - Score: 3
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Blocking?
By Alfman on 2017-03-16 23:42:25
I wondered about this last year when MS first made the announcement, and I don't think the knowledgebase has cleared it up.

Traditionally, microsoft not supporting a piece of hardware was never a show stopper because A) x86 engineers have always taken backwards compatibility very seriously, B) manufacturers would release the drivers themselves, even if MS didn't support it. My gigabyte motherboard today isn't technically supported by microsoft, it's supported by gigabyte, which means not everything works out of the box until I install gigabyte's drivers manually.

So with that in mind, is microsoft simply going to leave out bundled support for these, such that third parties can support it themselves like they always have? Or is microsoft's plan much more cynical, in that they'll start to actively interfere with or block new 3rd party hardware drivers from working on windows 7?

If it's the first, then whatever...it's just a scare tactic. If it's the second though, then that's highly unethical and possibly even illegal against owners of retail licenses who are explicitly allowed to install on new hardware (even if said hardware isn't supported by microsoft).

Edited 2017-03-16 23:45 UTC
Permalink - Score: 6
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RE: Remember BIOS lies?
By Alfman on 2017-03-17 00:06:06
malxau,

> It also seems like a matter of time before hacks/shims are built to ensure Windows Update doesn't see the native CPUID when checking for updates.

Maybe, but I'm wondering if MS will actively update windows to reject the drivers or even revoke the signing keys? If they do, then it will be an eternal nuisance for legitimate owners using legitimate drivers.

The thing is it's not the first time microsoft has used windows update as a weapon. Back when I was a windows kernel developer, microsoft revoked the keys of a legitimately signed tool that permitted owners to install & control drivers of their choice on their own systems. Microsoft didn't want owners to have this control, so I abandoned windows kernel development. That was then, now we're at risk of loosing userspace privileges too if MS gets it's way - fortunately there's been a lot of resistance and their locked down userpsace platform has not been popular.

Edited 2017-03-17 00:07 UTC
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE: Blocking?
By cb88 on 2017-03-17 02:14:57
Nothing to do with drivers... what is going to happen is u if you run Ryzen with win8 or below you get no updates...
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE[2]: Remember BIOS lies?
By malxau on 2017-03-17 04:10:31
> ...Maybe, but I'm wondering if MS will actively update windows to reject the drivers or even revoke the signing keys?

I think you're suggesting that the hacks I'm suggesting require drivers, and I don't think they do. Generally code running in the same process is sufficient to alter behavior, and there are plenty of ways to do that in Windows. Windows Update is particularly straightforward since it exists in a shared svchost process (on Win7 & 8), so creating a new service and configuring it to share with WU would allow that (unsigned) code to intercept everything WU is doing.
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE[3]: Remember BIOS lies?
By Alfman on 2017-03-17 06:53:23
malxau,

> I think you're suggesting that the hacks I'm suggesting require drivers, and I don't think they do. Generally code running in the same process is sufficient to alter behavior, and there are plenty of ways to do that in Windows. Windows Update is particularly straightforward since it exists in a shared svchost process (on Win7 & 8), so creating a new service and configuring it to share with WU would allow that (unsigned) code to intercept everything WU is doing.

Maybe a BIOS hack like you suggested would work then, I'm not really sure in what ways it's possible to control CPUID. Maybe intel itself has taken steps to help ensure backwards compatibility under these scenarios. I don't imagine intel is pleased with microsoft over this policy of CPU discrimination.
Permalink - Score: 2
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This type of policy...
By Luposian on 2017-03-17 08:00:37
Is known as "Forced Obsolescence". If they can't get you to come along with them, willingly, they will FORCE you to, one way or another. Enjoy the playground of Apple and Microsoft.

As soon as I can get Haiku or an alternative platform that doesn't use this type of policy, that does what I need, I am jumping ship faster than you can blink your eyes... seriously!
Permalink - Score: 4
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RE[4]: Remember BIOS lies?
By Brendan on 2017-03-17 10:19:24
Hi,

> Maybe a BIOS hack like you suggested would work then, I'm not really sure in what ways it's possible to control CPUID. Maybe intel itself has taken steps to help ensure backwards compatibility under these scenarios. I don't imagine intel is pleased with microsoft over this policy of CPU discrimination.

For Intel CPU's, to work around an ancient bug in Windows NT, you can limit CPUID to only report basic information (CPUID leaves 3 or lower). This will nerf various features (e.g. long mode/64-bit) and ruin a few other things that can help software improve performance (e.g. cache characteristics).

For AMD CPU's, I'm not sure about Ryzen (they haven't released a "BIOS and Kernel Developer Guide" for it yet). Normally you can change the CPU's brand string, but not much else.

Note that these things are be done via. MSRs. You don't need to modify the firmware - a "bootable middle-man" (something that boots, modifies MSRs, then starts the OS's boot loader) would be enough. However, none of it changes the "family, model, stepping" that a CPU reports so it won't help either.

A specially crafted micro-code update might be able to do it, but that is not a practical option.

A "somewhat practical" option would be a very thin hypervisor (where Windows runs inside a virtual machine), which can make CPUID say anything it likes. The only real downsides to this approach would be that you probably wouldn't be able to use virtualisation inside Windows, and there'd be a small performance hit involved. Of course if Microsoft only block updates, then you'd only use the hyper-visor when you're updating (and there wouldn't be disadvantages during normal use).

- Brendan

Edited 2017-03-17 10:20 UTC
Permalink - Score: 3
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Legality, Necessity
By avgalen on 2017-03-17 10:51:56
So...as far as I can figure out there were never any systems sold with these CPU's and Windows 7. So technically you shouldn't have any expectation that your new CPU would have worked on Windows 7.

Then again, these CPU's work on 7 today and Windows 7 is in extended support mode for 2 years already so it only gets security fixes which shouldn't require any change that would break currently working CPU's. So blocking EVERY update because something MIGHT break seems completely unnecessary.

I am sure many businesses that are standardized on Windows 7 and want to buy new hardware are going to have issues with this!
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE: Remember BIOS lies?
By BlueofRainbow on 2017-03-17 11:53:22
Such BIOS configuration options might still exist putting a new desktop motherboard into an older case.

They are not available to anyone purchasing a notebook. So, is there an option for these users?
Permalink - Score: 2

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