Windows 7 and 8.1 both received final security updates in January, marking the end of both of the operating systems’ lifespans.
Previously, Windows 7 stopped receiving support in 2020. However, it continued to support an Extended Security Update (ESU) that provided critical security updates but no feature updates. Windows 8.1 users won’t be provided with an ESU.
When support is pulled for an operating system, it means that it will no longer provide any additional software updates, features, or fixes. It also will no longer feature technical support of any kind.
This presents glaring security issues for anyone (especially businesses) who continues to use these older versions of Windows. Users won’t be protected against newer and more advanced threats and they’ll have a fundamentally limited toolset to deal with any malware that does infect their device.
In addition, Microsoft 365 Apps will also lose support, so companies that rely on Microsoft Excel or Word will need to find alternatives or upgrade to a newer OS.
Users have a few options to help keep themselves safe while online.
You can purchase a newer version of Windows if your device is compatible with a modern OS, but there is no free path between Windows 7 / 8.1, and newer versions like Windows 11.
Since most Windows 8.1 machines rely on technology that’s over a decade old and Windows 7 uses even older tech, they won’t all be compatible with newer versions of Windows. If that’s the case, some users, especially businesses or people who frequently use their PC, should consider purchasing a newer device that can continue receiving security updates.
Since that’s not an option for everyone, some antiviruses (like Bitdefender), will continue to provide support for these older OS. They’ll continue to provide security updates for Windows, albeit for a limited time.