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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?