Why millions of PC users are locked out of Microsoft's Creator's Update

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The problem may force consumers to either buy a new machine or lose access to security updates

Many consumers may remember with some chagrin how adamant Microsoft was when it came to getting computer users to upgrade to Windows 10. But now only a couple of years later, it looks like some PCs will be locked out of receiving future updates for the operating system.

According to a ZDNet report, owners of some of the first 2-in-1 PCs sold throughout 2013 and 2014 have been unable to receive updates since the March 2017 Creators Update, version 1703. When users try to install the latest version, they are met with a warning stating that “Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC” and that they should “Uninstall this app now because it isn’t compatible with Windows 10.”

However, there is no app to uninstall; the problem is actually tied to the PC’s hardware and its incompatibility with the latest Windows 10 release.

Incompatibility issues

So, what’s causing the problem? Tech experts say that affected PCs were installed with the Intel Atom Clover Trail series central processing unit (CPU).

This chip type, which was first installed on machines meant to run Windows 8, apparently has a block that stops computers from upgrading to the latest Windows 10 Creators Update. As a result, machines that have these chips are unable to progress past Windows 10, version 1607.

This can be extremely dangerous for consumers since security updates are only viable on Windows 10 for a period of 18 months. Since version 1607 was released in August 2016, that would mean that it would lose Microsoft’s support in early 2018.

Of course, users would still be able to use their PCs, but without recent security updates, the machines would become increasingly vulnerable to bugs, malware, security holes, and other hacking attempts.

Other PC's affected?

Luckily, consumers can take some solace knowing that Microsoft has acknowledged the issue and will be extending the support deadline past 2018 to 2023. But what happens then? If Microsoft is unable to work with chip makers to address the incompatibility issue, then it might mean that affected PCs will become obsolete and they’ll need to be replaced.

That would be a huge blow to the company, but even more so to the millions of individuals who might need to shell out money for a safe and up-to-date PC. To make matters worse, no one knows whether other PC chips will face similar problems in the near future.

Experts point out that if your PC was originally designed to run Windows 8 or 8.1, then you’re in danger of your device losing official support. PCs that were designed for Windows 10 are safe for now, but even these machines could experience a similar setback by a future feature update.

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