Is Intel building a new version of its Coffee Lake chipset just for Win7?

Intel is in the process of releasing a souped-up Coffee Lake chipset that will actually work with Windows 7, according to Anandtech. The trick will be convincing Microsoft to allow updates to the new H310C.

windows 7 logo on mirrors man with derby hat on dock
Getty Images / Microsoft

Back in March 2017, Microsoft quietly started blocking Windows Update on newer generations of Intel and AMD hardware. Then, a month later, those running Windows 7 on Intel 7th generation or later chips, AMD 7th generation or later or Qualcomm 8996 or later, were greeted with a warning that they were trying to install an update on:

Unsupported hardware

Your PC uses a processor that is designed for the latest version of Windows. Because the processor is not supported together with the Windows version that you are currently using, your system will miss important security updates.

Windows could not search for new updates

An error occurred while checking for new updates for your computer.

Error(s) found:

Code 80240037 Windows Update encountered an unknown error.

Mind you, the block had nothing to do with drivers. Many of the offending systems had perfectly usable Windows 7 drivers. The block was instituted by Microsoft, presumably in an attempt to limit their obligation to keep Win7 working with newer hardware.

You can read into that motivation whatever you like.

There have been many workarounds and hacks developed that allow people to install Win7 security patches on their newer hardware.

Now it appears that Intel is planning to release a new Cofffee Lake-based chipset that will somehow coexist with Windows 7. Anton Shilov at Anandtech reports:

Based on some recent hardware released from motherboard vendors, it would appear that Intel is prepping a new chipset and appropriate drivers to enable Coffee Lake processors to work with Microsoft’s nine-year-old Windows 7 OS….

To make the Coffee Lake/H310C viable for businesses, Intel will need to ensure that Microsoft supports such systems as well. Microsoft for their part has not announced anything on the matter yet, so either Intel is working on a rather one-sided plan here, or the two vendors have a bigger plan in motion to resume OS support for the new H310 revision.

The H310C already appears in marketing material from Asus and Gigabyte. Both of those motherboard manufacturers have been providing Win7 drivers for years. The big open question is whether Microsoft plans to call off the patching dogs and let Win7 security patches go through on these updated chips.

As @Ascaris puts it:

We know why MS would refuse to support anything new on versions other than 10: they have no concern for CPU sales, but they have a huge interest in the adoption rate of Windows 10.  It’s all upside and no downside for MS to only support new hardware on 10. Why the CPU makers would get on board with such a thing, though, is another question, since for them, cutting off the percentage of the customer base that refuses Windows 10 as potential customers is all downside.

Surely Intel has worked out some sort of compromise with Microsoft. Surely.

We aren’t talking about monster new features and killer performance on brand-spankin-new Win7 PCs. The H310C doesn’t leap tall buildings with a single bound. But it does provide a substantial boost to a long-langoring architecture, which may prove popular with bargain hunters who prefer a stable operating system.

Like me.

Want to run Win7 on an updated PC? Join the putsch on the AskWoody Lounge.

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