Microsoft is preparing to send reminders to Windows 8.1 users that support will end on January 10th 2023. The software giant will start sending notifications to existing Windows 8.1 devices next month, as a first reminder leading up to the January 2023 support cutoff.
The notifications will be similar to ones Microsoft has used in the past to remind Windows 7 users about end of support dates. Microsoft originally sunset Windows 8 support in 2016, but the Windows 8.1 update will cease support fully in January 2023. Microsoft will not be offering an Extended Security Update (ESU) program for Windows 8.1, so businesses won’t be able to pay for additional security patches and will have to upgrade or accept the risk of running software without security updates.
Windows 8.1 was largely a big fix for the reception to Windows 8. Windows 8 introduced a new touch-centric vision for Microsoft’s future, but it ditched the traditional desktop and Start button in such a big way that many PC users rejected it. The mobile-first OS didn’t jibe with what users wanted, and Windows 8.1 brought back the Start button in an admission from Microsoft that it had messed up.
Despite the Windows 8.1 update improvements, the Windows 8 era will be one Microsoft and many of its customers will be keen to forget. Microsoft attempted to modernize Windows in the face of iPad competition, and ended up alienating many of its loyal customers instead. Windows 10 arrived in 2015 and walked back many of Windows 8’s boldest changes, and Windows 11 has gone even further by removing the Windows Phone-like Live Tiles from the Start menu and overhauling many of the ancient relics that have existed in Windows for decades.
Windows 8.1 users will now need to decide whether to upgrade their operating system or buy a new PC. Most Windows 8.1 machines won’t even support Windows 11, admits Microsoft, due to its strict CPU requirements. “Most Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 devices will not meet the hardware requirements for upgrading to Windows 11, as an alternative, compatible Windows 8 and 8.1 PCs can be upgraded to Windows 10 by purchasing and installing a full version of the software,” explains Microsoft in a support note.
That leaves Windows 10 as the likely upgrade path, which will continue to be supported until October 14th 2025. Windows 8.1 machines won’t magically stop working on January 10th 2023, but without software updates and security fixes it’s a giant risk to keep running the OS next year. Microsoft’s support site has a bunch of FAQs and articles to help Windows 8.1 users upgrade or move files to a new machine.