It’s the end of the line for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Time to upgrade Windows.
Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are no longer supported.
Today, more than a decade after their initial release, these older versions of Windows (including Windows RT) no longer receive any security upgrades. Microsoft will also stop distributing Microsoft Edge browser updates for these operating systems in a few days, and any remaining third-party programs that are still functional will follow suit (Google Chrome support, most notably, ends early next month).
Most people’s support for Windows 7 expired three years ago, but organizations that still used it may pay for up to three years of extended support while upgrading to Windows 10 or 11. That time has already closed, and Microsoft no longer offers paid support for Windows 8.1.
Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs are becoming increasingly scarce, yet despite their age, both are still in widespread usage. According to Statcounter, combined operating systems account for little under 14 percent of all Windows PCs globally, and closer to 8 percent in the United States. The number for PCs in the Steam Hardware Survey is now hovering around 2%.
It’s not unheard of for Microsoft to offer one-time updates for critical security flaws after an operating system’s end-of-support date has expired. However, these operating systems will no longer receive the regular security upgrades and bug patches that keep them relatively secure and functioning for years after their initial release.
If you or someone you grudgingly support is still using Windows 7 or 8.1, the simplest way out short of purchasing new hardware is to switch to Windows 10. It should still be free to install on most legally licensed Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs, has the majority of the same system requirements, and will be maintained until at least October 2025. The majority of PCs issued with Windows 7 or 8 will be too old to match Windows 11‘s system requirements, however an unsupported install is a possibility.
Linux is another constantly updated operating system that works with a wide range of PC hardware.
Windows 7 is regarded warmly for enhancing (and, in some ways, rebranding) Windows Vista. Windows 8 and 8.1 were never as popular, and they attempted to impose a touchscreen-centric user interface on people who didn’t need or want it. However, they did a lot to improve Windows‘ touchscreen support, and the era inspired enduringly popular PC designs such as Microsoft’s Surface and Lenovo’s foldable Yoga convertible laptops. Windows RT, an Arm version of Windows 8 that came without any form of compatibility layer for desktop Windows programs, also helped set the groundwork for the operating system’s current Arm variants.
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