Windows 10: Why Clover Trail is a trouble maker

Recently there are reports about Windows 10 didn’t support Intel Clover Trail devices from Creators Update onward. Perhaps you asked why this is the case.


Advertising

What’s the matter?

In the past several vendors shipped devices (mostly Windows 8 Tablet PCs) with Intel Atom processors from Clover Trail family. These systems could be upgraded to Windows 10 (RTM), And it was possible, to install feature update till Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

But users are facing install issues at Windows 10 Creators Update (Version 1703) on the following Clover Trail CPUs.

  • Atom Z2760
  • Atom Z2520
  • Atom Z2560
  • Atom Z2580

Those processors are shipped between 2012 and 2013 (according to this article). I found this article naming some non compatible devices. If you install a new Windows 10 Build on so am device or try an upgrade, the install wizard will show this warning.

Windows 10 error message

The device is no longer quoted as compatible with Windows 10. Acer has published this support article about this topic. The ‘Intel Clover Trail processors are not currently supported in Windows 10 Creators Update’ within the Acer article seems to be ‘never supported’. Microsoft won’t offer feature upgrade for those processors, but servers security updates for Windows 10 Anniversary Update till 2023. I’ve mentioned that issue within my blog post Windows 10 support for Clover Trail machines till 2023.


Advertising

All I could find was statements like: ‘Intel doesn’t deliver drivers for this processors, so Microsoft won’t support these Clover Trail CPUs from Windows 10 Creators Update upward’.

Why does it require drivers for a CPU?

Perhaps somebody is wondering, why it needs a driver for a CPU? My Windows Insider MVP colleague Ingo Böttcher left a German comment within my blog pointing to the right direction (here is a free translation of his comment).

The problem with the Atoms isn’t the CPU, it’s the integrated graphics core (GPU). The drivers are causing issues under newer Windows build. Intel supports these driver only for Windows 8.

Driver support is the task for hardware vendor… so: Intel doesn’t provides drivers nor support, but Microsoft get bashed.

Then I searched the web and found a few more details.

The problem is the GMA (SGX 545) driver

Wikipedia says that the Atom processor family was designed as SoC (System on Chip) for mobile devices like Smartphones and Tablets, and has been introduced 2012 as an ARM competitor.

The issue with Windows 10 is the Intel Atom GMA (SGX 545) driver required for Clover Trail CPUs. GMA stands for INTEL Graphics Media Accelerator – a graphics extension. Intel doesn’t provides drivers for Windows 10, as we could read in August 2015 within this Intel forum thread.

GMA-Anzeigeprobleme
(Source: Intel forum)

It’s possible, to install the Microsoft Basic Video adapter driver for Windows. But Windows 10 needs also the GMA driver. This Intel page lists the supported Windows versions –  ‘Intel Atom® Processor Z2700 Series with Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator’ from  Cloverview family launched September 2016 are supported only in Windows 8/8.1.

Drivers for Windows 8.1 or drivers provided via Windows Update for Windows 10 are causing issues (see here). In Microsoft Answers there is a long forum thread with mixed feedback, that the driver offered via Windows Update failed or worked. Also OEMs (Lenovo) has forum entries discussing this, and there is a discussion on Twitter. Depending on the CPU several GMA drivers are discussed.

To sum it up: Microsoft needs an Intel GMA driver for Windows 10, but this driver isn’t available from Intel. Existing Windows 8.x drivers are not suitable for Windows 10, if I don’t missed something.

Final words

We can quote devices sold 2012 as ‘old’ and they reached end of support. But from a customer view it’s the failure of soft- and hardware vendors. I still remember Microsoft’s promise before Windows 10 release: Windows 10 will run on all devices capable for Windows Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. And it’s not forgotten, that Microsoft forced many users of Windows 7 and 8.1 systems to upgrade to Windows 10 – although it was known, that Windows 10 was delivered ‘as a service’.

Having a look into the list of supported Intel graphics driver, we will have similar cases with devices using Intel graphics in future. Intel has released now new processors (SoCs) for IoT and Embedded Systems – and Microsoft will ship Windows 10 variants for those processors. Will be interesting, how long it takes, until such systems will reach end of support.

I also found this web page, where somebody enabled Linux for GMA support. He investigated how to install the Intel GMA 3600 driver in Windows 10. He wrote:

The first solution which I came across was to remove the System Apps and Windows App from the system then reinstall the driver.

Then he was able to run the GMA driver, but the start menu in Windows 10 won’t work. Microsoft’s approach to rip off the old Windows 7 start menu code in Windows 8 and re-implement the Windows 10 start menu with WPF is causing this issue. The Classic Shell seems to work.

So Intel and Microsoft are causing this dilemma. And I see no real advantage, using store apps and the modern start menu within Windows 10. Wearing the hat of a maintenance engineer working for industry automation, I must say, that is a no go. Systems are projected to run many years, and we need to be sure, that hard- and software will work for the planned period. Overall it seems that marketing has killed reliability for future investments.

And I was wondering how administrators manage it today to get time between struggling with bad Windows updates, rollout of new software to investigate, how current and coming hardware will influence current and coming Windows 10 as a service versions. It seems that we will have a lot of joy with Industry 4.0, IoT and other buzzwords propagated from marketing. I don’t see, how they fit the market’s requirements. What’s your opinion?


Advertising
This entry was posted in Windows and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Windows 10: Why Clover Trail is a trouble maker

  1. Pingback: Some historical perspective on the “Microsoft won’t support Creators Update on Clover Trail computers” problem @ AskWoody

  2. AnorKnee Merce says:

    My take on this, is that M$ and the OEMs are likely trying to prepare the mass market running Win 10 on 4 to 5 years old devices, to accept being prematurely EOL-ed by M$’s twice-yearly upgrades, long before 2025(= the official EOL date for Win 10) because of end-of-support for the devices by the OEMs = Planned Obsolescence = more profit$ for M$ and the OEMs.
    ……. It’s like preparing the sheep for mass slaughter.

    Most people know that ZDnet’s Ed Bott is a M$ “spokesman” and has the inside scoop on matters relating to M$. IIRC, he was the first tech news reporter to dig out this 2 year old skeleton from M$’s dirty closet in mid-July 2017, ie about Intel Atom Clover Trail 2-in-1 tablets running Win 10 Version 1607/Anniversary Update being blocked by M$ from being upgraded to the Creators Update/Version 1703 via Windows Update = will be EOL-ed in early 2018.
    ……. Whereas from 29 July 2015 onward, the same tablets had already been blocked by M$ from being upgraded to Win 10 RTM/Version 1507 via Windows Update, which was worked-around by some techie-users with a Registry fix or a clean install(and forced install of the OEM Win 8.1 drivers) or disk-cloning. The 2015 work-arounds can still work in 2017, ie Intel Atom Clover Trail tablets could still be upgraded from Win 10 Version 1607 to 1703.

    So, in the coming months, it is likely that there will be more and more 4-to-5 years old OEM computers/devices running on Win 10 being similarly and quietly blocked by M$ from being upgraded to the next Version. Except that this time around, most of the “leading” tech news reporters, eg Ed Bott, will try to remain quiet and not report about it = cover-up for M$, since M$ and Intel making less profit$ or going bankrupt will not be good for the US economy and the reporters(eg no free trips to attend M$ conferences, no free gifts of Surface devices, etc)

  3. EP says:

    speaking of ed bott, read this article he wrote:
    http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-agrees-to-extend-support-deadline-for-clover-trail-pcs/
    Microsoft will be offering updates to those using Intel Atom Clover Trail CPUs with Win10 anniversary update until 2023.

    • guenni says:

      @EP: That’s not the point – I’ve mentioned the Intel Atom Clover Trail CPUs thing and Microsofts Windows 10 Anniversary Update support extension until 2023 somewhere within my Blog (at least within the German blog). The article above explains, whats wrong with the Windows as a service thing for such szenarios. For the scenario ‘Intel Atom Clover Trail CPUs thing and Windows 10 Anniversary Update’ ist seems the issue is solved with extendes update support (until Microsoft breaks that agreement – eiter with cumulative updates, that won’t install – or with ‘this month is no update available’).

      Let’s wait and see, what’s going on, if only a hand ful Clover Trail systems has to be supported with security updates. I won’t bet that we will see 2022 further updates

  4. Advertising

  5. ien2lest says:

    Hi TechWorld !

    I’m a French technician. I’m sorry in advance for my poor English ;)
    I read your posts, and I found these very interesting of my experiences with an Acer Iconia Tab W510, which is equipped with the Intel Atom Z2760.
    I encountered the blockade and failed upgrade process with the Windows 10 – 1703 from the 1607 build in January 2018.
    Now, as I write this post, I’m finishing Windows 10 – 1809 fresh installation on the same Acer Iconia Tab W510. I was forced, like before, in the upgrading process to plug a USB Keyboard because of the drivers, and to use SHIFT+F10 (early in the process).
    After the fresh installation process, I take a look to the GMA driver installed : version 9.14.3.1176 from Intel (08/11/2013).
    I’ve add the drivers from the file : Others_Acer_3.02_W81x86_A.zip, and no change was made for the GMA.
    In the 1607 build of Windows 10 previously installed on this computer, sometimes, I encountered BSODs linked to the GMA drivers file : igdkmd32.sys (Stop Code : VIDEO TDR FAILURE).
    I don’t know if it will be the same for this new build of Windows 10…
    I will continue my attempts to update the drivers manually.
    Thanks you very much to shared your investigations !

    • guenni says:

      The problem was, that Intel never updated the GMA drivers – and Win 10 needs modified drivers from V1703 – so you reached the dead end with Win 10 V1607. That’s the reason, why MS will provide security updates for such machines unter 2023.

  6. Eduardo says:

    Im running Windows 10 Ver 1803 Comp. 17134.799 without problems (Atom z2760 – Samsung Ativ500T); Can´t update windows now from the windows update way, have not tried a clean install since I´m beyond the expected but trust me, for a regular use like write this works very well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *