Windows 10 users report app gremlins after Microsoft update
When Redmond says unsupported, it really means it. Windows 11 fans beware
Old Windows 10 hardware is struggling to open some recently updated Microsoft applications, giving anyone running Windows 11 on unsupported hardware a glimpse of their potential future.
Microsoft regularly updates Windows' inbox apps via its Store. Rather than wait for a release of the operating system, it can push out fixes and features as and when they are ready. Apps such as the Calendar, Photos, and Calculator were given just such an update in January, and this broke them for many Windows 10 users.
A lengthy thread then started on the company's support forums as users found apps that had previously worked suddenly began failing. Users reported that their attempts to open photos from Explorer were met with errors, issues with the Calculator, and so on. Even a reinstall of Windows 10 didn't bring relief.
Naturally, users would report issues via the Feedback Hub, but, oh dear, that also appeared to break for them.
The issues did not coincide with an update of Windows itself, so in the absence of an official comment from Microsoft, those affected did some detective work to figure out what had befallen their previously working instances.
The answer appears to be the use of old hardware. Intel Core 2 Duo and Quad processors have featured in some of the reports, as well as some AMD Athlon chips. The Core 2 line first turned up in 2006 and, while not on the list of officially supported processors for Windows 10, the processor had more than enough oomph for many productivity tasks, until now.
A Register reader got in touch to highlight the situation: "A common theory is that the faulting component uses some instruction extension that Core 2 doesn't support, such as SSE 4.2."
While some users have taken this as evidence that Microsoft has made this change to force customers to buy new hardware, cock-up rather than conspiracy seems more likely. Our reader noted: "I believe that some dev at MS set a compiler switch incorrectly when building a shared component (some evidence points to the Visual C++ runtime)."
Although Microsoft is noted for maintaining backward compatibility, The Register doubts the company does much in the way of regression testing on unsupported hardware. A cynic might go as far as saying it has enough difficulty with quality when it comes to the kit that it does support.
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However, due to the automatically updating nature of Windows, dodging the updates in the long term is problematic and, if a vulnerability requires fixing, potentially dangerous.
The problems being experienced by the Windows 10 users now should also give pause for thought to those Windows 11 fans who have managed to get the latest version of Microsoft's operating system running on unsupported hardware. If the company can inadvertently pull the rug from beneath Windows 10 users on outdated chips, the same thing could just as easily happen to them.
The Register contacted Microsoft to get its take on the situation. We will update this story if the Windows vendor responds. ®