Microsoft Intentionally Cripples Windows 7 Media Player To Spur Windows 10 Upgrades

Microsoft continues to beat the Windows 10 drum, but many holdouts are still refusing to dance. Windows 10 has only recently surpassed Windows 7's marketshare, nearly 4 years into its life cycle. While we here at HotHardware like Windows 10 and its forward looking features, there is no denying the well-earned popularity of Windows 7. Microsoft is left with taking a heavy-handed approach to "motivate" users to upgrade.

Microsoft's latest action is to neuter Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player for its older operating systems. The changes will not affect basic playback, navigation, or streaming. Instead, metadata services will be discontinued.

windows media player

The metadata service delivers information including the title, genre, artist, director, cover art, and more for a given video or song. Microsoft indicates that previously downloaded information will remain. 

In a support post, Microsoft explains that "after looking at customer feedback and usage data, [we] decided to discontinue this service." It is fair to say that a little-used feature is reasonable to put on the chopping block. However, what is peculiar is the decision to maintain this service for Windows 10 and Windows 8 versions of WMP.

microsoft windows media player metadata matrix

Arguably, continuing to supply metadata to Windows 7 users would require little in the way of extra resources. It gives the impression of Microsoft picking apart a perfectly good operating system piece by piece rather than address the perceived shortcomings and concerns with its current offering. Ironically, one reason some have not upgraded is the lack of native support for DVDs in Windows 10's version of Media Player -- now a $15 add-on.

Regardless, this change will likely do little to persuade users. Anyone who relies on this service can choose of a multitude of free applications to access metadata. The venerable VLC Media Player is one of our favorites.

Unfortunately, Windows 7's death is inevitable. Microsoft is holding to its plan to discontinue security updates for the OS in January of 2020. Beyond that date, users can expect to pay on a per-device basis for continued support through January of 2023. It is high time to have a migration plan in place, be it to Windows 10, macOS, or even Linux.