End of life for Windows 8

Whilst it may come as somewhat of a surprise, Windows 8 will be unsupported as of next Wednesday (13th January).This comes about due to the fact that Microsoft classifies Windows 8.1 as a service pack and not a full new version of Windows, and as such requires it to be installed in order to continue receiving security updates. Furthermore, because Windows 8.1 is not delivered by Windows Update (it’s in the Windows Store) many people are completely unaware of its existence and will not realise they need to install it.

You can easily tell if you’re running Windows 8.1 because Microsoft added the Start button back onto the desktop. So if you’re running Windows 8 and you don’t see the start button then then you need to upgrade to Windows 8.1 right now. To do so, follow the instructions published by Microsoft at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-8/update-from-windows-8-tutorial.

Once you’ve done so please take a moment to make sure that your staff, students, colleagues, friends and family have done so too; the top reason for devices to become infected with malware is via fully known but unpatched security vulnerabilities.

The full story

One of the reasons why Windows is popular in businesses is the predictable long-term support offered by Microsoft. You can read all about it at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/lifecycle, from which the following information is available:


From here you can see that Windows 8 is under extended support (this means it gets security updates) until January 2023. However, if you look a little closer, you’ll see that it actually says that the latest “service pack or update” is Windows 8.1. This is explained a little further down:


Support for Windows 8 RTM (Release To Manufacturing) ends 24 months after the release of the service pack, i.e. Windows 8.1, and that after that date no further security updates are offered. The FAQ at https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/lifecycle#gp/LifeWinFAQ explains this in more detail:


Because Windows 8.1 has the same system requirements as Windows 8, it can be installed directly onto Windows 8 with no loss of data, and it is supplied completely free, Microsoft gave users 24 months to install it before dropping support for the old version. That time is nearly up.

For one last check we can also search for Windows 8 on the Microsoft Support Lifecycle pages https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/lifecycle/search/default.aspx?alpha=Windows%208&Filter=FilterNO and see it spelt out in black and white:


The “Notes” section is key, and even points us back to the FAQ section we looked at earlier.

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