Microsoft is preparing to forget Windows 8.1 with end of support notifications

Microsoft is preparing to remind Windows 8.1 users that support will end on January 10, 2023. The software giant will start sending notifications to existing Windows 8.1 devices next month as a first reminder ahead of the end of support in January 2023.

The notifications are similar to those Microsoft has used in the past to remind Windows 7 users of the end of support. Microsoft originally ended Windows 8 support in 2016, but the Windows 8.1 update will end support entirely in January 2023. Microsoft will not offer an Extended Security Update (ESU) program for Windows 8.1, so companies will not be able to pay for additional security patches and will have to upgrade or risk running software without security updates.

Windows 8.1 brought back the Start button.
Image: The Edge

Windows 8.1 was, for the most part, a big fix for receiving Windows 8. Windows 8 ushered in a new touch-centric vision for Microsoft’s future, but it ditched the traditional desktop and start button so much that many PC users rejected them. The mobile-first operating system didn’t match what users wanted, and Windows 8.1 brought back the Start button in an admission from Microsoft that it had messed up.

Despite the improvements of the Windows 8.1 update, the Windows 8 era will be a Microsoft and many of its customers will be happy to forget it. Microsoft has tried to modernize Windows in the face of iPad competition and instead alienated many of its loyal customers. Windows 10 launched in 2015, predating many of Windows 8’s boldest changes, and Windows 11 went even further, removing the Windows Phone-like live tiles from the Start menu and overhauling many of the old relics found in Windows have existed for decades.

Windows 11 ditched Live Tiles.
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

Windows 8.1 users now have to decide whether to upgrade their operating system or buy a new PC. Most Windows 8.1 machines don’t even support Windows 11, Microsoft admits due to its strict CPU requirements. “Most Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 devices do not meet the hardware requirements to upgrade to Windows 11. Alternatively, compatible Windows 8 and 8.1 PCs can be upgraded to Windows 10 by purchasing and installing a full version of the software,” explains Microsoft in a support note.

That leaves Windows 10 as a likely upgrade path, which will continue to be supported until October 14, 2025. Windows 8.1 machines won’t magically stop working on January 10, 2023, but without software updates and security fixes, keeping the operating system running next year is a huge risk. Microsoft’s support site contains a series of FAQs and articles to help Windows 8.1 users upgrade or move files to a new computer.

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