Thinking of specifying a Windows Pro Tools computer with the latest 7th generation Intel (Kaby Lake) or AMD processors? Well Microsoft have some news for you - Windows versions older than 10, so 7 and 8.1, will not be supported by the latest processors.
Isn't This Apple's Usual Trick?
Apple have been building and selling new hardware for a long time, which can only run the latest operating system version. Because they control the hardware and the OS, they can tailor the experience towards new features in both the hardware and operating system. However this can be a problem for Pro Tools users when they have bought the latest Apple hardware, only to find that they cannot downgrade the operating system to an Avid qualified version for Pro Tools.
One of Windows' strengths, but also at the same time a weakness, is that Microsoft do not control the hardware, so have had to ensure backwards compatibility. However there is still a lot of collaboration between processor manufacturers and operating system coders because there's no point a processor having a nice new hardware feature if the operating system doesn't know the commands to take advantage of it.
In their blog, Microsoft said -
As previously communicated earlier this year, future silicon platforms including Intel’s upcoming 7th Gen Intel Core (Kaby Lake) processor family and AMD’s 7th generation processors (e.g. Bristol Ridge) will only be supported on Windows 10, and all future silicon releases will require the latest release of Windows 10.
They go on to say -
There are now over 350 million devices on Windows 10 and more than 135 billion hours of use since the launch, with enterprise customers deploying Windows 10 to devices every day. We recommend that customers upgrade 6th Gen Intel Core systems on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 as soon as possible so that they can receive full support along with the great enhancements that come from running modern hardware with modern software.
Avid have only officially qualified Pro Tools 12.5 onwards for Windows 10. However I've been happily using Windows 10 since Pro Tools 12.3, and I've heard anecdotal evidence that both Pro Tools 10 and 11 work fine. Where we are with hardware drivers though is another thing.
Line In The Sand
I'm actually quite glad that Microsoft have drawn this line under older operating systems. It gives them a chance to really make the most of the new hardware without being held back by legacy support. I've already found some hardware and software performing much better on Windows 10 than Windows 7. Maybe we'll catch a glimpse of the fabled Native Thunderbolt drivers so many hardware manufacturers are screaming for? We can only hope.