Microsoft confirms it’s cutting Windows 10 updates for Atom PCs

Microsoft has been preventing PCs with Intel Atom Clover Trail processors from obtaining the latest Windows 10 Creators Update. While many devices with Intel’s Atom Clover Trail chips were released in the Windows 8 era, Microsoft offered a free Windows 10 update to keep the tablet / laptop hybrids up-to-date. ZDNet revealed earlier this week that compatible drivers are preventing owners from updating to the Windows 10 Creators Update, and Microsoft has now confirmed to The Verge that it no longer supports Intel Atom Clover Trail processors for its latest Windows 10 updates.

“They require additional hardware support to provide the best possible experience when updating to the latest Windows 10 feature update, the Windows 10 Creators Update,” explains a Microsoft spokesperson. “However, these systems are no longer supported by Intel (End of Interactive Support), and without the necessary driver support, they may be incapable of moving to the Windows 10 Creators Update without a potential performance impact.”

Microsoft says it will be offering the older Windows 10 Anniversary Update to Intel Clover Trail devices instead, and the company “will provide security updates to these specific devices running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update until January of 2023.” This date aligns with the original Windows 8.1 extended support period, which means that these older devices will still be supported with security updates but no new Windows 10 features.

Intel’s Atom processors were supposed to offer better battery life for smaller and cheaper tablet / laptop devices running Windows 8.1. A lack of good performance meant most consumers decided to purchase Intel’s Core series machines, and Intel eventually gave up on Atom last year. HP’s Envy X2 was one of the more popular Atom-based devices, but not many were widely used.


Atom = LOL

seriously – can’t believe how Intel managed to get itself caught up by ARM so fast…

I have Surface 3, which is based on the X7 arm cpu. Works fine as a machine to take notes, browse the web, edit large pdf documents, and even some raw editing from my Fuji X-E1. What’s really lol was the decision to use a substandard EMMC drive when there were faster Samsung made EMMC drives out there, or better yet SSD drives out there that are even better.

Cherry Trail on the Surface 3 still has today outstanding performance, I’m pretty sure you get better benchmarks on that device (Surface 3) than on a Intel Core M3 HDMI stick, and the reason is Microsoft used very good memory technology and really good hardware design to keep temperature low on CPU spikes, so I’m really surprised Intel cancelled Atom development. Cherry Trail was a really good CPU.

Does this mean cherry trail on surface 3 still going to get FCU? As it’s not clover trail.

Charging took forever too. No idea what that was all about. I/O speeds were abysmal.

Microsoft could upgrade it with 7th generation Core M processor and SSD and with fast charge technology and USB-C in Surface 4 and it would be an instant buy.

I agree, but MS won’t and the only one that come close is the Galaxy Book 10, but that lacks a kickstand, only one USB-C port, and a battery life that is at best 5 maybe 6 hours, which is far short of the 7 hours I get and not really good.

Agree on all points. I love that size for note taking a lot so I am toting a Galaxy Book 10.6 these days. Battery life as you said is disappointing but it makes up for that in inking, which in my experience is the best inking experience on any device past or present, especially for note taking.

I have one as well, but it was a door prize that mainly sits unused. I had it setup as a backup machine as occasionally I am stuck on client VPN connections where I have no access to the outside world network wise without dropping the VPN connection. It suits that role barely, but even with just Office apps running it’s not the quickest thing out there. It came with a pen and keyboard cover. The pen I near really used much, the keyboard is certainly handy though. Had I actually paid for it, I would be kicking myself for not going with even the lowest level Pro.

At times I do kick myself for not going base SP3 with 128gb ssd, but then I pick up my device to notetake, or see a Pro in store or in the wild and reminded how much I prefer the size over the Pro. As mkumar and others said a Core M S4 would be an instant purchase(unless battery life is under 7 hours).

I have Surface 3, which is based on the X7 arm cpu. Works fine as a machine to take notes, browse the web

I had a similar Atom-based computer (Dell Venue 11 Pro) and scrolling in Chrome using the touch screen was slow, stuttery and jerky on any page with significant graphics.

Never really had any jerkiness in chrome, but it is a bit slow, and at times jerky; however, I just thought was more of a Chrome issue. I sometimes see that similar jerkiness on a Vaio with a 3rd gen quad core i7, standard HDD, & 8gb of ram. I’ve found that Vivaldi, Opera, Firefox even slower wrt touch on my S3.

Atom is a dead platform, that’s because Microsoft announced Windows ARM since December 2016, and OEMs like Acer, ASUS, HP, Dell and Toshiba which were producing Atom hardware are now switching to ARM chips on laptops for Holiday season for 2017.
I may be wrong, but Intel made a mistake by announcing CherryTrail as the last Atom chip, now Atom will have a end of life coming soon to all OS including Windows 7, 8.1 and 10.

I understand these were 32-bit CPUs as well. A bit sad that they’re EOL in terms of updates to Windows 10 but they’re pretty old now. The stupid thing is that a lot of consumers are blaming Microsoft for this when Intel is the one dropping support specifically.

THIS. I don’t understand how people keep missing this point. Intel totally dropped the ball, just as they did with Vista support.

Funny enough, it’s not just Intel either. ImgTech made the graphics cores used in Clover Trail. PowerVR SGX 544 was old at the time Intel put it in their chips. ImgTech dropped the SGX 544 a long time ago.

It’s worth noting that Microsoft needs drivers and QA assurance from Intel to continue to support Atom SOCs, and Intel has basically walked away from that platform.

As the owner of several Bay Trail and Cherry Trail Atom tablets and other devices, I can tell you they are not like "normal" Intel-based systems. Cherry Trail in particular is very locked down: there is no driver support for Windows 7 or 8.1, and you can’t even download graphics drivers separately. In terms of OS and driver integration, these late Atom systems are a lot more like ARM devices than they are regular PCs.

It’s no real surprise that Clover Trail is being EOL’d. I’d suspect the same for newer Atom systems in the next year or two.

Pretty sure the no driver support on Cherry Trail is incorrect as my Surface 3 originally came with Window 8.1(may have been 8, can’t fully remember), and now 10 of course. To download from intel directly that is totally possible.

It isn’t even just Intel. You guys do realize that Clover Trail had PowerVR graphics, right?

What’s important here to note is that Microsoft has now come out and promised security updates for Windows 10 on these devices until the end of life for Windows 8.1, which is what they originally came with. At first, that was in question.

If Microsoft had stranded these people and left them with no protection against newly discovered security vunerabilities that needed patching for people to use their devices safely online, that would have been a real problem, and I think would have reflected very poorly on Microsoft and led me to question whether I could count on them going forward. Whether people spend $100 on a device or $1,000, they deserve to have an operating system that will continue to work and be secure for a reasonable period of time. You buy a tablet or a computer that says Microsoft Windows and that’s supposed to count for something. These people may have been poor and saved their pennies and made sacrifices to have a PC for themselves or their children and, within reason, they should be able to run it until the physical parts break.

Now, what’s within reason? I don’t know exactly, but it probably is somewhere around what XP, Vista, 7, and 8.x Windows got or are guaranteed to get from their release dates until end of life.

Though I think that should usually mean feature updates as well, because of the extenuating circumstances here, security updates seems like a compromise that isn’t completely unfair to the owners of the devices. My feeling is that should also come with making sure Microsoft’s basic apps continue to function and have updates available for those machines in case third-party ones stop supporting the Windows update they are stuck on.

Going forward, I think it would be a good idea for Microsoft to either guarantee to develop its own drivers for abandoned chips that they licensed Windows for in the event that the chipmaker goes under, and put things in their contracts with manufacturers and chipmakers that Windows will only provide the licenses if drivers are updated to run with Windows for at least x number of years after the last PC or whatever comes off the assemby line. If the manufacturers don’t comply, there should be penalty clauses that are much more financially costly than actually updating the drivers to deter manufacturers from orphaning things, and to give Microsoft more than enough money to take over if needed. If Microsoft doesn’t feel comfortable updating drivers themselves for a given chipset or something should something happen, decline to allow OEMs to install Windows on those products in the first place (Like for a manufacturer who produces a low-powered 32 bit chipset long after everything else had moved on- don’t want to guarantee support, don’t sell the OEM license. Ditto Intel working with this other chipmaker- if you’re not prepared to stand behind it, don’t work with them.).

One concern going forward here is that with Windows 10 supposedly being the last Windows ever, we really don’t known anymore when we can expect a PC we buy to continue to be supported. Obviously and understandably, they won’t keep updating machines bought in 2015 until 2035 or something. But there is some period of time that people should be able to feel secure that Microsoft won’t abandon their hardware on that’s there in writing.

People speak of Linux as a solution to this, but some of these devices were tablets, which have notoriously bad Linux support, and users elsewhere report that Linux is tough to get working with some of the PCs that we’re talking about, too. Plus, the people bought them as Windows machines and if they paid for them that way, they should get to use them that way.

I’m concerned that Windows may just randomly abandon or stop supoortint poor selling or inexpensive, or start cutting the legs out from under customers who they just want to go buy a new PC. We need support EOL guarantees similar to what we had before "the last Windows".

Going forward, I think it would be a good idea for Microsoft to either guarantee to develop its own drivers for abandoned chips that they licensed Windows for in the event that the chipmaker goes under, and put things in their contracts with manufacturers and chipmakers that Windows will only provide the licenses if drivers are updated to run with Windows for at least x number of years after the last PC or whatever comes off the assembly line.

You can’t be serious about this.

You must be joking? Why don’t you just suggest that Microsoft open its own factory an start producing CPUs?

Apple has been moving in this direction, at least with mobile devices. They might not 100% produce the stuff but they are involved and they have some control.
Of course it is a different scenario, but the other suggestion to make the makers guarantee some minimum years of support does sound fair.

Unless their policy changed, Microsoft does generally guarantee 10 years of support, at least for security updates.

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