Windows 8.1 End of Support


If you are still using Windows 8.1 then you will soon need to make a decision

Windows 8.1 logoSupport for Windows 8.1 will end on January 10th 2023. If you are still using it now, you are going to be receiving regular popups nudging you to take some action – or, at least – to make a decision.

What does “End of Support” Mean?

It means:

  • No more technical support relating to Windows 8.1 will be available from Microsoft.
  • No more program updates will be issued.
  • No more security updates will be issued.
  • Office 365 will no longer work with 8.1

Surface Pro 3 running Windows 8 or 8.1
My 2014 Microsoft Surface Pro 3 came with Windows 8 or 8.1, but has now been running almost perfectly with Windows 10 for many years. It would not run Windows 11.
It does NOT mean that your Windows 8.1 computer will stop functioning on that or any other date, although the software you use may well be updated in time such that it is no longer compatible with old operating systems (including 8.1). If you use “Microsoft 365 Apps” (that used to be called Office 365), note that they will not be supported under Windows 8.1 from the “end of service” date in January 2023.

If you don’t use Office 365, the only serious and immediate implication is likely to be that security updates will cease to be provided. This means that if any more vulnerabilities are found in Windows 8.1 whereby malware can be installed, or unauthorised access gained, or information can be stolen, then Microsoft will not do anything to fix that vulnerability. This could make Windows 8.1 a more tempting target for cyber-criminals than it is at the moment as well as render you defenceless against such new threats.

Your options

Upgrade to Windows 11. In advising you of “end of support”, Microsoft suggest that one option is to upgrade to Windows 11. I think it’s safe to say that if you are running Windows 8.1 then your hardware is going to be old enough to fall foul of the Windows 11 requirement to have “TPM 2.0”. In short, I wouldn’t even think about trying to put Windows 11 on an old machine currently running 8.1.

Upgrade to Windows 10. Another suggestion from Microsoft is to replace Windows 8.1 with Windows 10. You would have to buy this (£119.99 for the Home version). It is possible to upgrade to Windows 10 without losing your programs and data. However, you will only be putting off the problem until October 2025 when support for Windows 10 will end..

Buy a new computer. This will have Windows 11 pre-installed. Your programs will need to be installed and your data transferred, of course. Undoubtedly, this is the best option for the longer term.

Stick with Windows 8.1 (for now, at least). When Windows XP went out of support there were many, many people that stuck with it for ages – despite the growing vulnerability to malware and, later, ransomware. My guess is that an unsupported 8.1 will be far less attractive to cyber-criminals as the customer base is so much smaller than it was for XP.

Windows 8.1 Start Screen
The Windows 8 and 8.1 Start Screens were an unsuccessful attempt by Microsoft to move away from the “desktop”. The desktop proper returned in Windows 10.
If you are going to try to extend the life of your Windows 8.1 machine, then I would suggest being very vigilant about your antivirus program being up-to-date, and being extra vigilant that you don’t invite trouble by opening email attachments or clicking on links in emails that you are not confident are genuine.

Also, think about your data backup routines and whether you need to pay them more attention as your system becomes more vulnerable.

Further information is available from Microsoft as follows:

Windows 8.1 end of support

Windows 8.1 end of support and Office

Upgrading from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10

Purchasing Windows 10

Windows 11 system requirements

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