Microsoft closed deals to ensure that new computer hardware will not run on older versions of Windows. What it boils down to is that systems with Intel's Kaby Lake, AMD's Zen and Qualcomm's 8996 will all require Windows 10, as Microsoft's new policy is to more rapidly phase out support for its older operating system.
“As new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support,” a Microsoft spokeswoman replied, when asked to confirm that that position was still in place. The goal appears to be to move forward with new features, even if it means leaving some users behind. “This enables us to focus on deep integration between Windows and the silicon, while maintaining maximum reliability and compatibility with previous generations of platform and silicon.”
PC World got in touch with Intel and AMD, and heard neither of the two companies will offer Windows 7/8 drivers for their new hardware:
“We are committed to working with Microsoft and our ecosystem partners to help ensure a smooth transition given these changes to Microsoft’s Windows support policy,” an Intel spokesman said.
"No, Intel will not be updating Win 7/8 drivers for 7th Gen Intel Core per Microsoft’s support policy change," he added in an email on Tuesday.
An AMD representative was equally neutral. “AMD’s processor roadmap is fully aligned with Microsoft’s software strategy,” AMD chief technical officer Mark Papermaster said, via a company spokeswoman.
This doesn't mean it will be entirely impossible to boot Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on a Kaby Lake or Summit Ridge processor, but it will not be a smooth ride. Without proper driver support, the system may not be as stable as it should be, and will not hit the maximum performance level. Maybe hobbyists will take care of this, but that's a risk businesses will be unwilling to take.