Users with older hardware components may be out of luck as Intel culls software drivers and BIOS updates for out-of-service components
Intel has drawn criticism on social media for removing drivers from older hardware from its official website, a practice users say has accelerated in recent weeks.
The removals affect drivers for hardware dating back to the 1990s and early 2000s, but also more recent devices that are no longer supported.
The practice is controversial because it is a common practice for system administrators and individual users to continue making use of older Intel hardware after its official end-of-life (EOL) date for purposes that do not require the latest software or hardware, such as basic file sharing or storage servers.
And once a driver is removed from Intel’s official site users said it can be difficult or impossible to track down elsewhere.
In part that’s because users are so habituated to the software being available on Intel’s own servers that few third-party archives exist.
Commenters on the Hacker News forum noted that the absence of official drivers could pose a security risk, as some users could be tempted to use software obtained via a “link from a random stranger on the internet”.
Users reported that end-of-life notices for drivers and BIOS updates began appearing on Intel software pages only in recent weeks, although the company may have been deleting older drivers for longer than that.
The notices state that the download in question “will no longer be available” after a certain date and recommend customers to “uninstall and/or discontinue use as soon as possible”.
Users on Twitter and discussion websites vented their frustration at the practice, which they said threatens to render perfectly good hardware useless.
“You deleted a driver for a chip you’d sold thousands if not millions of to save eighteen megabytes?” one user wrote on Twitter, after failing to find a driver for an Intel network chip. “I had more free space than that on my Angelfire account.”
The user said he had expected Intel to “host your drivers until the sun explodes or you go out of business”.
“I know these boards are legacy, but does it really cost them that much to host the files for occasional downloaders?” another user wrote in a Hacker News discussion.
A number of Intel’s notices indicate the company is planning to remove older software components as of Friday, 22 November.
Intel is far from the only company to have removed older downloads. There is no standard practice for making older software drivers available, with practices varying from company to company.
Users of the Vogons forum, which is focused on getting older hardware and software to work in the modern world, advised users to archive drivers and BIOS updates for any older Intel products they may want to continue using.
Social media users also noted that older Intel drivers may still be available on a copy of Intel’s FTP site from 2014 hosted on archive.org.
Intel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.