Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 reach the end of the line, and it’s time to upgrade
Enlarge / First generation Surface Pro with Windows 8.
It’s the end of the line for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. These older versions of Windows (plus Windows RT) no longer receive all security updates today, more than a decade after their original releases. Microsoft will also stop providing updates to the Microsoft Edge browser for these operating systems in a few days, and the remaining third-party apps that still work will eventually follow suit (Google Chrome support, in particular, ends early next month ).
Windows 7 support for most people actually ended three years ago, but businesses still using it could pay for up to three years of additional support when moving to Windows 10 or 11. That window has now closed, and Microsoft is no longer offering a paid support option for Windows 8.1.
Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs are rare and getting rarer, but both are still in relatively wide use given their age. Statcounter says the two OSes account for just under 14 percent of all Windows PCs worldwide and close to 8 percent in the US. For PCs in the Steam Hardware Survey, the number is currently around 2 percent.
It’s not entirely unprecedented for Microsoft to release one-off patches for serious security issues after an operating system’s end-of-support date has passed. But these operating systems will no longer receive the routine security updates and bug fixes that keep them relatively secure and functional for years after their release.
If you or someone whose computer you grudgingly rely on is still running Windows 7 or 8.1, the easiest way to save yourself from buying new hardware is an upgrade to Windows 10. It should still be installed for free on computers most licensed Windows 7 and 8.1. has most of the same system requirements and will be supported until at least October 2025. PCs shipped with Windows 7 or 8 will mostly be too old to meet the system requirements of Windows 11, although an installation of unsupported is an option.
There’s also Linux, another frequently updated operating system that supports a wide range of hardware.
Windows 7 is fondly remembered for improving (and, to some extent, renaming) Windows Vista. Windows 8 and 8.1 were never that popular, and they tried to force a touchscreen-centric user interface on people who didn’t need or want it, but they did a lot to improve Windows touch support and the era inspired wildly popular PC designs like Microsoft’s Surface and Lenovo’s convertible Yoga foldable laptops. Windows RT, an Arm version of Windows 8 that shipped without any sort of compatibility layer for Windows desktop applications, also helped build a foundation for the current Arm versions of the operating system.