Microsoft Ends Windows 8.1 Support Today, Here’s What That Means

The end of support means the operating system will be vulnerable to security risks. Users should upgrade immediately.

After serving users for almost ten years, support for Windows 8.1, Microsoft's serially overlooked operating system, has officially come to an end.

This means that while computers running 8.1 will function, all future technical, software, and security updates will no longer be carried out, leaving remaining users a target for threats like malware and viruses.

If your computer or tablet still runs on 8.1, it's time to take action. Here are some easy ways to protect your devices from this discontinuation, including upgrading to Windows 10 or 11.

After Ten Years, Support for Windows 8.1 Has Ended

Windows has finally decided to shut the curtain on Windows 8.1, the outmoded operating system that has been serving Microsoft users since its launch in 2013.

This end of support coincides with the launch of Microsoft Edge 109 — the last version of Microsoft Edge that was built to support the dated operating system.

Windows 8.1 default start screen

Windows 8.1 default start screen. Source: microsoft.com

What does this mean?

According to an official blog post by Microsoft, computers that run on Windows 8.1 will still function, but the following services will no longer be provided to those who remain on the system:

  • Technical support 
  • Software updates
  • Security updates or fixes 

Critically, important programs like Extended Security Updates (ESU) are being axed too, leaving Windows 8.1 users vulnerable to all sorts of ominous security risks.

In simple terms, Microsoft's lack of support means that Windows 8.1 users are no longer safe. But if you still remain on the sinking boat rest assured: there are a number of steps you can take to secure your device.

How to Use Your Device Safely 

  1. Download Windows 10 and 11

According to Microsoft, if you're still relying on the outdated operating system the first thing you should do is migrate to Windows 10 or 11. Upgrading your system may come at a premium, but thanks to Microsoft's relaxed updates policies securing a free upgrade shouldn't be too hard.

Most Microsoft devices will be fully compatible with these newer releases. However, if your device doesn't support Windows 10 and 11 you will be required to replace your device with a newer model.

2. Back up your data

If you're switching to a newer system, it's always worth backing up the files on your device. While most software updates go completely according to plan, data loss and damage do occur occasionally.

To cover all bases we recommend backing up your data on an external drive or network location. You can select a drive on Windows by selecting Start > Settings > Update & Security > Backup and then > Add a drive.

3. Use antivirus software

While Windows is a notoriously safe operating system, the software family is no stranger to security breaches and zero-day vulnerabilities.

Therefore, if you're serious about keeping circulating threats like ransomware, malware, and viruses at bay, we would recommend fortifying Windows' in-house security features with antivirus solutions.

According to our insights team, Bitdefender is the best antivirus software available to small businesses, while Surfshark One is the best option for freelancers, due to its rock-bottom starting price and VPN capabilities.

The market isn't short of effective tools though, so read our guide to the best antivirus software to discover our top picks.

Written by:

Isobel is a writer at Tech.co with over three years of experience covering business and technology news. Since studying Digital Anthropology Bsc at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also worked as a freelance tech researcher. Isobel’s always up to date with the topics in employment and data security and has a specialist focus on POS and VoIP systems.

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