Microsoft will soon start sending notifications to Windows 8.1 users about the upcoming end of extended support. The operating system is set to reach the end of its support period on January 10, 2023, and warning messages will start appearing next month.
Support for Windows 8.1 is governed by Microsoft’s Fixed Lifecycle Policy, and like other versions of Windows that follow it, it gets at least five years of prime support, and extended support for 10 years. Extended support means that the operating system still receives security updates every month, but support is limited otherwise.
With some versions of Windows, such as Windows XP or 7, Microsoft has already extended the support period due to the huge popularity of these operating systems, but this is not the case with Windows 8.1. In fact, Microsoft doesn’t give business customers the option to pay for Extended Security Updates (ESU), as it did with Windows 7. While it was costly, the ESU program allowed some companies to continue getting security updates for Windows 7 for up to three years after the expiration of Support in January 2020. Coincidentally, this means that both Windows 7 and 8.1 will stop receiving updates permanently on January 10, 2023.
Windows 8.1 was never a very popular version of Windows, and there were good reasons for that. The original Windows 8 version was heavily criticized for its excessive reliance on touch-based interaction, and for the division between the classic desktop experience and the new “metro” Start menu. Windows 8.1 tried to address some of these pain points, and while there were a lot of improvements, it wasn’t close enough to shake off the negative reputation that Windows 8 had at that point. The subsequent update to Windows 8.1 brought more improvements, but again, it didn’t do much to change things.
If your device is still running Windows 8.1, you have two options: upgrade to Windows 10 (or Windows 11, although it’s very unlikely that any Windows 8.1 PC will meet the system requirements), or you can buy a new PC It runs Windows 11, which is Microsoft’s recommendation. Upgrading to Windows 10 should still be free if you use an ISO file to upgrade, although Microsoft says you’ll need to purchase a license. Windows 10 will be supported until 2025, so it’s a valid way to extend the life of your device a little bit longer.
Of course, you can continue to use Windows 8.1 after support ends, but this means that you will be less protected from security threats. If you’re concerned about how to keep your files on your new PC, Microsoft recommends backing them up using OneDrive. The company has also published some support pages to answer questions you may have about the end of the support period.