The Windows 8 era is gradually winding down. The Redmond-based tech giant ended support for Windows 8 in January 2016 and recently announced that it will now end support for its older brother, Windows 8.1.
Windows 8.1 provided a more stable user experience and was an improvement over Windows 8. But, just like every Windows product, it was fated to end. Read on to find out when it’s ending, why it’s ending, and what this means for users.
When Is Support for Windows 8.1 Ending?
Support for Windows 8.1 will end on January 10, 2023. Shortly after saying goodbye to Windows Explorer, Microsoft disclosed a date to mark the end of support for the Windows 8.1 version, which will be about 5 months from now. The company also announced that users would see a Windows 8.1 update notification starting from July to notify them of the end of Microsoft’s support.
As such, Windows 8.1 users should decide on what to do promptly before the end of its support date. This will help to avoid a slew of unfavorable circumstances when upgrading to a new Windows version or switching to an alternative operating system, such as macOS or Linux.
Why Is Support for Windows 8.1 Ending?
Microsoft decided to end support for the Windows 8.1 version due to its user interface flaws. In addition, the tech giant wants to focus more time on providing a more stable environment for its users with Windows 10 and 11.
Microsoft faced criticism for the mobile-first UI design of its Windows 8 release in 2012. The company then released the Windows 8.1 version with a desktop-like UI design to address these issues.
Although it provided a better user experience, Windows 8.1 did not fully resolve most UI issues. As such, Microsoft required a newer version to address its user interface limitations and attract users who had previously abandoned Windows for alternative operating systems.
To this end, Microsoft released newer versions of Windows (10 and 11) that provide a better UI experience by combining mobile and desktop features.
Despite their desire to give Windows 8.1 a chance, many users experienced problems with their computers and opted for an upgrade to newer Windows versions. Consequently, Microsoft has finally decided to discontinue support for Windows 8.1.
What Does This Mean for Windows 8.1 Users?
By ending support for the operating system, Microsoft has sent a clear signal to Windows 8.1 users. People still on 8.1 must quickly decide whether to upgrade to a newer Windows version or switch to an alternative operating system, such as macOS or Linux.
After January 10, 2023, Windows 8.1 users will no longer receive security and other related updates from Microsoft. You may still be able to use it unsupervised, but your productivity will likely suffer in an insecure environment. Additionally, vital Microsoft apps will no longer be supported on Windows 8.1.
Which Microsoft Apps No Longer Support Windows 8.1?
After support ends, Microsoft 365 and other Office versions will no longer be supported on Windows 8.1, following Microsoft’s Modern Lifecycle Policy. If you are still using Microsoft 365 on Windows 8.1, you will no longer receive Office app updates, including features, bug fixes, and other privacy safety updates.
Non-subscription versions of Office, such as Office Home & Student, Office Home & Business, and Office Professional Plus, will continue to be supported under the Fixed Lifecycle Policy. However, Windows 8.1 will no longer receive security updates, leaving those apps vulnerable to security threats.
Furthermore, Microsoft will no longer provide an Extended Security Update (ESU) program for Windows 8.1 after January 10, 2023. Consequently, continuous use of Windows 8.1 may increase exposure to security risks or impact its ability to meet compliance obligations.
As such, Windows 8.1 users are strongly advised to upgrade to Windows 10 or 11 to avoid performance and user experience issues in the future.
It’s Time for an Upgrade
If a user is already running Windows 8.1, Microsoft recommends upgrading to a newer version of Windows 10 or 11. An update to Windows 11 is strongly advised. However, Microsoft has stated that most Windows 8.1 PCs will not be compatible with Windows 11 versions due to hardware limitations.
The best option for Windows 8.1 users is to get a new PC with pre-installed Windows 11 versions. Alternatively, users can update to Windows 10 versions on a budget. However, you should also consider that Microsoft will end its support in October 2025.