“If you are currently using Windows 8, you need to upgrade,” is the message coming from Microsoft as they prepare to close official support for the three-year old operating system.
Windows 8 users are being urged to upgrade to Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 in order to keep receiving security updates and stay protected against malware, spyware and viruses. The upgrade is available for free and will extend support until 10 January 2023.
Microsoft usually provides 10 years of extended software support, but is cutting this short for Windows 8 as it views 8.1 to be a necessary ‘service pack' that contains vital OS (Operating System) enhancements.
"Unlike service packs that are typically just a collection of fixes, Windows 8.1 has new features and enhancements. We designed Windows 8.1 to give customers an ability to deploy this update in a manner that is similar to how customers deploy service packs. Therefore we are applying the existing service pack support policy to Windows 8.1," the company said.
Microsoft's policy is to end support for earlier OS versions two years after a service pack is released, meaning that those who want their PC to stay protected have no choice but to upgrade.
"Windows 8.1 does not change any hardware requirements compared with Windows 8 or Windows 7, and existing Windows Store apps will work with Windows 8.1," notes the official FAQ.
The update has little to no impact on existing desktop apps and there is no direct software cost because business customers with Software Assurance licensing will receive Windows 8.1 as a free update. "For organisations running legacy applications that need to be upgraded, there are tools to manage deployment in order to help mitigate cost and impact."
Windows 8 was released in 2012 and had a strong focus on touch-enabled features, but the tiled layout generated criticism from users of previous versions.
Figures from Netmarketshare show that 2.76 percent of Windows users are still on Windows 8, which, while small, still equates to hundreds of thousands of machines. Windows 10 currently holds 9.96 percent of the OS market, but Windows 7 remains the dominant OS with over 50 percent.
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