Windows 7 has had a long life, and even though Windows 8 and 8.1 were less popular, there are still many people who haven’t updated to Windows 10 or 11. Microsoft is now saying goodbye to both 7 and 8.1.
January 10, 2023 marks the official end of Extended Security Update support for Windows 7. Mainstream support ended in January 2020, and since then, feature and security updates have only been officially available through “specific volume licensing programs for Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Professional for Embedded Systems editions.” Even though the program was only intended for large organizations, some people were using it on their personal PCs to avoid upgrading to newer Windows releases.
Windows 8 support ended back in January 2016, but Windows 8.1 has continued to receive security updates after mainstream support ended in January 2018. The extended support will come to an end on January 10, 2023. Microsoft explained in a support document, “after this date, this product will no longer receive security updates, non-security updates, bug fixes, technical support, or online technical content updates.” The company started showing warnings to Windows 8.1 PCs last year.
The answer to updates ending for a Windows release is usually just to update Windows, but that’s more complicated this time around. Most PCs running Windows 7 or later should be capable of running Windows 10, but security updates for 10 will stop after October 14, 2025 — only giving PC owners two years to figure out the next step. Windows 11 has much stricter official requirements, and even though some of them can be bypassed, it doesn’t work at all on PCs with 32-bit CPUs or some other old hardware.
Google plans to drop support for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 in the Chrome web browser around the same time, and most (if not all) browsers using the Chromium engine will follow suit. Microsoft confirmed that Edge 109 will be the last version of its web browser available on all three releases, and Vivaldi and Brave Browser are also ending support. The only major exception is Firefox, as Mozilla hasn’t decided when to move on.
Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 were all significant milestones for Microsoft, and the entire PC industry. Windows 7 fixed many of the rough edges that kept PC buyers away from Vista. Windows 8 was a radical departure towards a tablet-friendly design that not everyone was happy with — including some people here at How-To Geek. Microsoft followed it up with 8.1, which re-introduced some desktop elements and fixed a few issues, and later fully merged the two design principles with Windows 10. The varying problems meant many people simply stayed on earlier versions — StatCounter reports that 11% of PCs worldwide are still on Windows 7, while 2.59% are on 8.1.
If you’re still using Windows 7 or 8.1, you should really upgrade to Windows 10, or Windows 11 if that’s even an option. Switching to Linux may be an alternative, though many modern distributions will struggle on most Windows 7-era hardware. Debian still supports 32-bit x86 PCs, among other distros.
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