Windows 7 update lockout claims older Intel, AMD processors

Older Pentium E5400 and AMD RX480-graphics computers are being misidentified and the PCs are getting blocked, exactly like the Carrizo DDR4

Windows 7 update lockout claims older Intel, AMD processors
Credit: Michael Rivera

Microsoft continues to shoot itself in the foot with buggy detection software, no documentation, and an infernal drive to block Windows Update on seemingly random machines. Now, some older Intel and AMD processors are unexpectedly getting the blockade treatment.

The carnage started more than a year ago, when Microsoft declared it would no longer support Windows 7 or 8.1 on the new sixth-generation Intel Skylake processors. Microsoft backed down in several steps, finally saying that it would not support Win7 on seventh-generation Kaby Lake and Bristol Ridge processors, but left open the question of which Skylake and older AMD processors would get the update shaft.

Starting earlier this month, Microsoft bared its fangs, in the form of the "Unsupported hardware" message, followed by a complete shutdown of Windows Update on the identified, presumably seventh-generation, machine.

unsupported hardware IDG

 

Microsoft admitted a few days later that it had accidentally hobbled legitimate sixth-generation Carrizo DDR4 machines with the Windows Update block, in spite of official assurances that the Carrizo line was exempt from the lockdown. Now I'm seeing reports that machines with other, much older processors, have been blocked as well.

AskWoody Lounger Pim pointed me to two reports of mistaken "Unsupported hardware" identity, both on Dutch websites.

The first report on the Tweakers site, from PDZ on April 18, clearly identifies an Intel Pentium Dual Core E5400 2.70GHz machine as getting plugged by the "Unsupported hardware" block. The E5400 isn't a seventh-generation chip. It isn't even a zero-generation chip. It's a Wolfdale series processor, first released in 2009, that predates the Intel Nehalem series—and the Nehalem series is usually categorized as first generation.

The symptoms described by PDZ correspond exactly to what we've seen on misidentified Carrizo DDR4 machines: When you run Windows Update to install this month's Monthly Rollup, you get locked out with the "Unsupported hardware" notification. Subsequent attempts to run Windows Update meet with a "Windows could not search for new updates" notification.

windows could not search for updates IDG

 

In the same thread, poster E-Bastard says his machine with a Celeron J1900 processor got slammed. The J1900 is a Bay Trail-D Intel processor, released in November 2013. Yes, it's three and a half years old, yet it ran afoul of the "Win10 only on new processors" rule. Intel says the J1000 series supports 64-bit Windows 7, whereas it doesn't support 32-bit Windows 7. No word from the poster on which bit-ness he's using.

A second Dutch post on Tweakers from emanuelhut repeats the tale of woe, this time with an older computer that had its video card replaced with an AMD Radeon RX480. Mind you that the RX480, released in June of last year, is a GPU, not a CPU. Microsoft's infamous statement about blocking Win7 on older machines doesn't even mention GPUs:

New processor generations require the latest Windows version for support. For example, Windows 10 is the only Windows version that is supported on the following processor generations:

  • Intel seventh (7th)-generation processors
  • AMD Bristol Ridge
  • Qualcomm 8996

Because of how this support policy is implemented, devices that run the following Windows versions and that have a seventh generation or later generation processor may no longer be able to scan or download updates through Windows Update or Microsoft Update:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows 7

That's all the information we have. There's no warning from the installer that your Win7 machine is about to have Windows Update shut down permanently, nor is there a list of which CPUs and GPUs trigger the blockade.

Fortunately, there are workarounds. For those of you who follow my Group A and Group B methods for patching Win7, ardosuaf and MrBrian posted a workaround on the AskWoody Lounge. If you'd rather run a patch file from GitHub, Zeffy has a comprehensive script for 64-bit systems.

One has to wonder about Microsoft's liability in this ongoing screw-up. This month's patches fix the Word zero-day that's been used to infect systems with the Dridex banking Trojan. What if Microsoft's botched scanning prevented a system from getting updated?

You gotta love a botched "security" patch that disables Windows Update.

Discussion continues on the AskWoody Lounge.

Computerworld's IT Salary Survey 2017 results
Shop Tech Products at Amazon