Microsoft moves to relegate Windows 7 to second-class status

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As Microsoft goes full speed ahead on Windows 8, a number of signs suggest that Windows 7 is fading fast in Redmond’s rear view mirror.

On Monday, Microsoft program manager Daniel Moth confirmed in a support forum that DirectX 11.1 will only work with Windows 8. The company has “no plan” to bring DirectX to earlier versions of Windows—including Windows 7.

DirectX 11.1, Microsoft’s API for 3D graphics, isn’t a major update from DirectX 11, but it adds features to take advantage of high-end graphics processors. It also includes native support for Stereoscopic 3D. The news will mainly affect gamers who want to keep upgrading their rigs but would rather not move to Windows 8.

That’s not the only indication that Microsoft is starting to leave Windows 7 behind. Reportedly, Microsoft won’t release a second service pack for Windows 7, unnamed sources told The Register last month, and the company does not plan to offer an Xbox Music app for its older operating systems. For Windows Phone 8 users, Windows 8 has a slick modern-style app for syncing and viewing media, whereas Windows 7 only has a more bare-bones Windows Phone app for the desktop.

To be clear, Microsoft will support Windows 7 through 2015, meaning that it’ll offer both security and non-security updates for free. Extended support, which provides free security updates but requires a subscription for other hotfixes, will continue through 2020.

But when it comes to individual applications and services, Microsoft is starting to move on. Even Internet Explorer 10, which is already available on Windows 8, is only getting a preview version for Windows 7 this month, with no word on final availability.

It’s not unprecedented that Microsoft would start treating its older operating systems as second-class software. After all, Office 2013 won’t support Windows Vista or XP, and neither will Internet Explorer 10. Still, the Microsoft’s willingness to leave Windows 7 behind in some areas shows just how eager the company is to push Windows 8, lest we forget how big of a bet this new operating system is for Microsoft.

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