Windows 8.1 is set to reach end-of-support on January 10th, 2023 which means no more updates, including no more security patches after that date. Microsoft plans to start displaying notifications warning users of the impending end-of-support and has announced that there will not be any extended support packages available.
When Windows 7’s support expired Microsoft provided extended support packages via its ESU (Extended Support Update) program for users who were prepared to pay to keep the operating system patched. However, this service will not be available for Windows 8.1 users. Hardly surprising considering Windows 7 was a very popular and widely deployed operating system, especially in the corporate sector, while the same could certainly not be said for Windows 8.1. Incidentally, ESU for Windows 7 will end in the same month as the end-of-support for Windows 8.1.
Windows 8.1 will probably go down in history as being the shortest release period following its predecessor. With its desktop a blank canvas and its hidden Start button, Windows 8 was an unmitigated disaster and one has to wonder what on earth Microsoft was thinking. I still clearly remember the first time I booted into Windows 8 sitting there scratching my head wondering how or where to get started. Following a storm of criticism, Microsoft quickly released Windows 8.1 which addressed many of the complaints and, in my opinion, ended up being a pretty decent operating system.
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Upgrade To Windows 10
The upgrade to Windows 10 remains free for Windows 8.1 users and, regardless of the reason for not upgrading to date, those users should reconsider and upgrade to Windows 10 ASAP. This will then afford a further (almost) three years of running a supported Windows operating system (Windows 10 reaches end-of-support in October 2025).
One notable tech blog has advised users to upgrade to Windows 11 but I seriously doubt any PC still running Windows 8.1 would meet Windows 11’s stringent requirements. Another avenue would be, of course, to continue using Windows 8.1 once it’s passed its end-of-support date. However, this is not something I would generally recommend for the average user. For more advanced users with heightened levels of computer and security savvy, perhaps.
When an operating system passes its end-of-support date, it will still be fully functional but open to security issues as it will no longer receive any security updates. What usually sounds an operating system’s death knell is the lack of software compatibility/support, including drivers. Software developers continued supporting Windows 7 well past its end-of-support date but, as I mentioned earlier, that operating system was hugely popular and widely deployed, I doubt the same leeway will be afforded to Windows 8.1.
Any Windows 8.1 users out there? What are your thoughts?