Microsoft is prepping reminders to send to Windows 8.1 users that the company will end support for the operating system (OS) on January 10th, 2023.
Those still using Windows 8.1 will start receiving notifications next month about the impending January shutdown. The Verge reports that the notifications will be similar to ones Microsoft sent out before, such as when it reminded Windows 7 users about the end of support.
Further, Microsoft doesn’t plan to offer an Extended Security Update (ESU) program for Windows 8.1. Microsoft typically offers ESU programs so businesses can pay to extend support for older operating systems until they can move to a newer version. Any businesses still using Windows 8.1, however, won’t have that option.
It’s worth noting that Windows 8.1 arrived largely as a ‘fix’ for Windows 8, which had alienated users with its mobile-first focus. Windows 8.1 brought back features like the Start button and undid some of the bolder changes introduced in Windows 8. Microsoft ultimately returned to a more traditional Windows experience with Windows 10, while the new Windows 11 stripped out some of the last vestiges of Windows 8 (like Live Tiles in the Start menu) and worked to modernize some of the operating system’s ancient foundations.
Microsoft originally ended support for Windows 8 in 2016 after the launch of Windows 10 in 2015.
Unfortunately for those still rocking Windows 8.1, there are limited options for what to do come January 2023. In a support note about the impending end of support, Microsoft admitted that most Windows 8.1 PCs “will not meet the hardware requirements for upgrading to Windows 11.” This is due largely to new, strict CPU requirements Microsoft added with Windows 11.
Instead, the likely update path for Windows 8.1 users will be Windows 10. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that Microsoft only plans to support Windows 10 until October 2025. In other words, it may not make sense to upgrade to an OS that will only stick around for another couple of years. The other alternative is buying a new PC with Windows 11, which also isn’t ideal.
And while Microsoft doesn’t mention it, there’s always Linux for those tech-savvy enough to make the switch.
For more information about the impending end of support for Windows 8.1, check out this Microsoft support document.