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Hack lets older Windows users get around Windows 10 update restriction

Published Apr 20th, 2017 6:29PM EDT
Windows 7 Update Kaby Lake
Image: nSeika

Microsoft keeps saying that it’s not going to be as aggressive about Windows 10 upgrades as it used to be, but actions speak louder than words. Recently, users discovered that they were not able to receive the latest security updates on their Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs that are powered by newer Intel chips.

Microsoft issued a new tool that checks a computer’s processor and prevents it from receiving any updates in case it detects it’s a new generation CPU on a computer running a Windows version that’s not Windows 10. As expected, someone was able to crack Microsoft’s restrictions and re-enable updates.

Both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are still supported. We’re looking at three and six years of updates, respectively. But Microsoft would rather have you upgrading that new PC to the latest version of Windows 10. One way to convince you to pull the trigger is trying to prevent your laptop from receiving system updates meant to keep your PC safe.

To be fair, Microsoft did warn Windows users about what’s coming. New Intel chips won’t support older Windows versions, Microsoft said all the way back in 2016. However, when Patch Tuesday came last week, and Windows 10 Creators Update along with it, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users discovered they were not able to receive their security updates.

Microsoft’s tool was already in place giving an error message that read “Your PC uses a processor that isn’t supported on this version of Windows and you won’t receive updates.”

One Windows user took it upon himself to fix this issue, ZDNet reports. Developer Zeffy posted a new patch on GitHub that stops Microsoft’s tool from checking your computer’s processor age. That means any Kaby Lake or Bristol Ridge Ryzen users can install the security updates for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 after using this unofficial patch.

According to the developer, Microsoft’s March 16 update for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 came with this changelog entry: “Enabled detection of processor generation and hardware support when PC tries to scan or download updates through Windows Update.” As Zeffy put it, that’s “essentially a giant middle finger to anyone who dare not ‘upgrade’ to the steaming pile of garbage known as Windows 10”.

You can get Zeffy’s fix at this link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.