Microsoft released Windows 8.1 all the way back in 2013, and it has since been replaced by Windows 10 and 11. Now the operating system is reaching the end of its support cycle, and Microsoft really wants you to upgrade.
ZDNet reports that Microsoft is preparing to send reminders to anyone still using Windows 8.1, reminding them that support will end on January 10, 2023. After that point, Windows 8.1 won’t receive any more system updates, including critical security patches. The initial version of Windows 8 reached the end of mainstream support in 2016.
Even though the operating system itself is reaching the end of its lifetime, and you should definitely plan an upgrade if you’re still on Windows 8.1, some components and applications will still receive updates after that point. Microsoft hasn’t specified an end-of-support date for the Edge browser on Windows 8.1, which will even continue working on Windows 7 until January 2023. Google Chrome and Firefox also haven’t announced plans to drop Windows 8.1.
Depending on the PC, upgrading from Windows 8.1 might be easier said than done. Windows 11 has strict official requirements that block out most (if not all) computers designed for Windows 8.1, and even though you can bypass those requirements and install Windows 11 anyway, some features might not work.
Windows 10 works on older hardware than Windows 11, and will continue to be supported until October 2025. That gives you about three years to buy a new laptop or other PC that is designed for Windows 11. Switching to a desktop Linux distribution is also an option if you don’t need Windows-specific software, and there are several distributions designed for old computers, like Ubuntu MATE.