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Your next PC might only work with Windows 10

Your next PC might only work with Windows 10
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

If you've been following Microsoft's attempts to get the world upgraded to Windows 10, it's hard not to see Microsoft as something of a villain. From nagging users endlessly to upgrade to actually downloading Windows 10 files to computers without permission, it's just been one thing after another.

The latest news probably isn't going to help. Microsoft has announced that going forward it will only support Windows 10 on new computer hardware. That sounds bad, and the actual specifics are a bit confusing, so let's take a look at what this means for you.

Before we talk about that, however, let's quickly clear up what it doesn't mean. Windows 10 will still continue to work on older hardware, and you can keep using whatever version of Windows you have on your current computer.

Where things will change is if you buy a new computer or upgrade the processor in your existing computer. If you want to install Windows 7 or 8.1 with the new hardware, you could run into problems.

That's because when Intel, AMD or any other chip manufacturer comes out with new processors, they often have new or upgraded features. Microsoft then has to write software to make Windows work correctly with those features.

According to Microsoft, this is getting harder to do with Windows 7 because it's so old. In its blog post explaining the decision, Microsoft points out that Windows 7 came out before a lot of modern advancements in processors, such as on-die graphics or advanced per-core power management.

To get these features working, Microsoft has to create software that translates what Windows 7 is expecting with what the processor can actually do. Not only does this slow things down, it can introduce new glitches. Even Windows 8.1 is starting to lag behind on some of the latest processor developments.

That's why Microsoft has decided to just concentrate on making Windows 10 work as well as it can with newer hardware, and ignoring earlier versions of Windows. So, when does this changeover take effect, and what happens if you install Windows 7 or 8.1 on newer hardware anyway?

Next page: The details you need to know
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