Microsoft to pull forum support for Windows 7 and 8.1 from next month
Communities around older operating systems won't get technical support
Microsoft is pulling forum support for Windows 7, 8.1, 8.1 RT along with a range of other products from next month.
A message shared with the Microsoft Community reveals the full list of products that will no longer be supported, but doesn't specify the exact date on which support will be withdrawn, only stating "Effective July 2018".
Although most of the forums will continue to exist - just without technical support from Microsoft staff - the announcement states Microsoft Band, 'Mobile devices' and Zune topics will be locked altogether.
In the first two instances, users are directed towards the Microsoft Band 2 and 'Other Windows mobile devices' topics, but Zune users are simply advised the relevant forum will remain "available for browsing".
What's Microsoft doing?
The timing of this announcement is slightly puzzling because extended support for Windows 7 doesn't end for another 18 months, on 14 January 2020. However, when you consider that almost 40% of PCs still run Windows 7, Microsoft is probably using this bulletin as a little nudge to these individuals that they'll need to upgrade to Windows 10 sooner or later.
In the case of Windows 8.1, Microsoft has pledged to offer extended support until January 2023. Having said that, Windows 8.1 is now installed on fewer than 10% of PCs around the world, so the operating system is fast becoming a niche product.
As for the locking of the 'Mobile devices' and Zune forums: in both these cases, Microsoft has only confirmed what we already know; that these products are dead and buried. Last October, Microsoft's Joe Belfiore finally drew a line through Windows 10 Mobile, revealing the company would not release any new Windows 10 Mobile hardware.
Considering Windows 10 was designed specifically to let you run apps across a range of devices including PCs, tablets, phones and even the Xbox One, it's still not entirely clear what the death of Windows 10 Mobile means for the future of the operating system.
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