Windows 7 is not set to reach an end of life until 2020, but some users are finding out that their older Intel processors are no longer supported by the coveted Microsoft OS. Indeed, noted by ZDNet, Microsoft is apparently dropping Windows 7 support on some PCs with Pentium III CPUs.
A key reason for this change happens to be that the Pentium III doesn't support the SSE2 technology which enables single instruction multiple data. Newer processors (Intel Pentium 4 and upwards) all support this tech, which is now a mandatory feature for Windows operating systems. Word on the issue was first spotted in the known issues for the March Windows 7 monthly security patch.
A Stop error occurs on computers that don't support Streaming Single Instructions Multiple Data (SIMD) Extensions 2 (SSE2).
Microsoft's changelog originally mentioned that a resolution was on the way, with an update coming in an upcoming release. Unfortunately, the company had a change of heart and has since quietly updated the workaround in the changelog with the cold, hard, truth.
Upgrade your machines with a processor that supports SSE2 or virtualize those machines.
To be fair, these processors are now over 18 years of age, and they probably couldn't handle the necessary security patches for Meltdown or Spectre. As a result, Microsoft likely gave up on trying to come up for a resolution, now leaving these older systems without any security patches. This apparently is not against Microsoft's support policies either, as noted in this help article.
Microsoft advises customers to install the latest product releases, security updates, and service packs to remain as secure as possible. For the latest information on security updates, please visit our TechNet Library. Older products may not meet today’s more demanding security requirements. Microsoft may be unable to provide security updates for older products.
The Pentium III was originally released around 1999, so this news is slightly jarring for those who are still on the older hardware. Still, if you're running a Pentium III in 2018, you're better off not protesting and just going into BestBuy for a new, secure, and much faster PC.