Intel Pentium III Mounted on a motherboard
Image: Howcheng/Wikipedia

Windows 7 is already counting its days before Microsoft terminates the extended support cycle for the popular operating system that only receives security updates. Recently, the company pulled official tech support for various product forums including Windows 7.

A monthly security update pushed for Windows 7 in March 2018 (KB4088875) caused a blue screen of death (STOP error) on machines running older CPUs that don’t support Streaming Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) Extensions 2 (SSE2). This affects CPUs including the Intel Pentium III lineup sold between 1999 and 2003.

Back then, SSE2 (a SIMD extension) was a new multimedia instruction set that was, according to ZDNet, meant to improve performance by enabling the CPU to process multimedia in parallel. It was introduced in Intel Pentium 4.

The BSOD issue didn’t go away in the monthly security rollups for the subsequent months. Microsoft had promised that the company is working on a fix and it’ll “provide an update in an upcoming release,” it said in the KB article. But it failed to deliver any fix until June 16 and updated the Monthly Rollup page for March instead.

“Upgrade your machines with a processor that supports SSE2 or virtualize those machines,” reads the updated KB article.

As seen in a Wayback Machine snapshot, the KB article for June was also modified to remove the details of the issue written under the Known issues in this update section.

We’re halfway into the year 2018, and there may not be many people running Windows 7 on a processor that’s almost 20 years old. Although Microsoft hasn’t made any official announcement, it seems the company is done with the old processors that don’t support SSE2. But if the move faces criticism from a considerable number of users, it might compel Microsoft to rethink their decision.

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