Alongside recent news that AMD is dropping official legacy card support for Linux, it appears that AMD will also be dropping support for aging Radeon products in Windows 8. Although the next iteration of Windows is expected to ship with driver support for some legacy Radeon cards, AMD will not be providing future driver updates for those graphics cards. The company makes that clear in this following paragraph from a purported press release.
Also with regards to Windows 8 support for the AMD Radeon™ HD 2000, 3000, 4000 Series of products; the In-the-box AMD Graphics driver that ships with Windows 8 will include support for the AMD Radeon HD 2000, 3000, and 4000 Series, and it will support the WDDM 1.1 driver level features. The AMD Catalyst driver for Windows 8 will only include support for WDDM 1.2 support products (AMD Radeon HD 5000 and later).
Source: hardwarecanucks.com, ATI press release
It's important to note what AMD considers "legacy" may not align with everyone's preconceived visions of what "legacy" means. To AMD, legacy products appear to include the Radeon HD 2000, HD 3000 and HD 4000 series graphics cards. Interestingly, the HD 4000 series sports the R700. For anyone blessed with a good memory and reasonable powers of recollection, they may remember finding the R700 CPU in ATI's flagship Radeon products as little as four years ago. Only HD 5000 cards and newer will be spared from the recent changes.
Unfortunately for customers with legacy Radeon cards, there is more bad news. Currently, HD 2000, HD 3000 and HD 4000 products receive updates with every monthly Catalyst release. However, beginning in May, AMD plans to include updates for legacy products on a quarterly basis. The company explains that moving to a slower release schedule for its older series will help them focus on their newer and existing line-ups. The company also reasons that older products have plateaued in terms of performance and functionality. After so many years of development, AMD claims, there is little room for optimization or additional features.
We will continue to support the mentioned products in our Catalyst releases, but we’re moving their updates to a quarterly basis, whereas our AMD Radeon HD 5000 and later products will continue to see monthly updates. The Quarterly Catalyst releases will focus on resolving application specific issues and critical updates. The reason for the shift in support policy is largely due to the fact that the AMD Radeon HD 2000, AMD Radeon HD 3000, and AMD Radeon HD 4000 Series have been optimized to their maximum potential from a performance and feature perspective.