Owners of computers based on Intel’s Clover Trail generation of Atom processors, released between late 2012 and mid-2013, are reportedly finding that they are unable to install the Windows 10 Creators’ Update, also known as Windows 10 v1703. Users have reported seeing a message saying “Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC” when trying to complete the Windows 10 update process. An error code displayed with the message points users to a note that suggests that software incompatibility is the reason that the automated process fails.
The devices affected include low-cost laptops, tablets and convertible 2-in-1s. There are four consumer Clover Trail CPUs; the Intel Atom Z2760, Z2520, Z2560 and Z2580. It is likely that a huge number of Clover Trail-based PCs from all the world’s major manufacturers have been sold. Many were originally shipped with Windows 8 or 8.1, but users were prompted to upgrade to Windows 10 for free when it was released – with Microsoft promoting the upgrade heavily.
Neither Microsoft nor Intel has not yet published any information for affected users. However, an Acer support page surfaced by ZDNet.com seems to indicate that users were previously able to install the update but reported that text and icons were not showing up correctly on screen, or were appearing as solid blocks or bars. The Acer page goes on to state that Microsoft is working to create compatible drivers to address this problem, which indicates that the block might not be permanent.
This is the first known instance of old hardware becoming ineligible for a major Windows 10 refresh. Instead of a known end date for feature and security updates, Microsoft now promises to support Windows 10 for free in perpetuity, so long as a device is within its “lifetime”. However, that definition is vague, and depends on hardware compatibility, driver availability and OEMs’ support periods.
It is unclear whether affected Clover Trail PCs running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which is as of now the latest supported version, will be eligible for security patches or other critical Windows updates. Microsoft officially supports each major Windows 10 release for 18 months, which means that the Anniversary Update falls outside this period in early 2018. Ars Technica points out that security updates for Windows 8.1 are guaranteed till at least October 2023, leaving users who upgraded to Windows 10 at a significant disadvantage.