The headlines are everywhere. In its never-ending drive to improve the Windows operating system, Microsoft said goodbye to its Windows 8 operating system. Going forward, the company has no plans to provide new features, security patches, upgrades and improvements. At first glance, “Windows 8 Support Ends,” sounds like it’s really bad for those with the operating system installed.
As it turns out, there’s more to Windows 8 support ending than what many would have guessed. Unlike with past versions of Windows, Windows 8 support ending isn’t that bad for users. Here’s what you need to know about the company saying goodbye to the enormously controversial operating system.
What Does Ending Support Means
With Windows 8 support ending, it’s important to understand what Microsoft qualifies as support and what it doesn’t. The company’s Lifecycle Policy breaks down how support works for Windows and other products.
Before this week, Windows 8 received security updates and maintenance fixes. These updates and fixes kept Windows 8’s features in working order and the operating system safe. If a security issue arose, Microsoft was obligated to provide users with a patch that fixed that issue. To be clear, support never meant that Microsoft was still making large-scale improvements to Windows 8. It stopped doing that a long time ago when it moved on to Windows 8.1, the large-scale updates that it released to Windows 8 users some time ago.
Windows 8 support ending doesn’t mean that your computer won’t continue to work. It should work just fine going forward. Browsing the internet will work the same way it always has. Opening apps and programs will work the same way it always has.
However, just because things will continue working doesn’t mean that all is good. As time progresses, you’ll notice that you don’t receive the security fixes that you once did for vulnerabilities and hacks. Business and enterprises running Windows 8 on their machines can pay for support and will continue to get updates through something called Extended Support. Microsoft doesn’t extend that to users at home.
“Extended support is not available for Consumer, Consumer Hardware, or Multimedia products,” the company says.
What to Do With Windows 8 Now
Don’t go throwing your PC out though, because this is where Microsoft’s policies work in favor of Windows 8 users. Officially, Windows 8 support is over, but that doesn’t mean owners of Windows 8 PCs are out of luck. There’s Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 to consider.
Windows 8.1 was the rather large update that Microsoft released after it’d taken stock of what users didn’t like about Windows 8. It adds the Start Button back to the Taskbar and includes toggles for going straight to the Desktop and skipping Windows 8’s Start Screen entirely. What’s more, it comes pre-loaded with more mature apps than the apps that Windows 8 came with.
Windows 8 support has ended but Windows 8.1 support hasn’t. If you install the update, you’re back to getting security fixes for years to come.
Windows 8.1 is completely free. Just head to the Store app on your device to install Windows 8.1. Remember, it’s Windows 8.1 that Microsoft will support until January 9th 2018, according to this Windows Support FAQ.
Second, there’s Windows 10 to consider. When Windows 8 didn’t work out the way it planned, Microsoft went back and rethought the Start Screen, Windows Store apps and upgrades.
Windows 10 is an upgrade for users running Windows 7 and Windows 8 that Microsoft lets everyone install absolutely free. In fact, Windows 8 users can upgrade to Windows 10 without loosing their photos, music and other files – though backing those up is still a very good idea.
It’s ok if you don’t want to upgrade from Windows 8. Some people didn’t like the changes that Windows 8.1 introduced. Just know that you’ll no longer get those security fixes. Back up your device often. Keep an eye on any bulletins about vulnerabilities and issues that exploit the operating system.
I’d recommend just upgrading to Windows 8.1 if you still like Windows 8 but aren’t a fan of the things that Windows 10 brings to the table. In an ideal world, everyone would simply upgrade to Windows 10 directly from Windows 8 now that it’s not receiving support upgrades.
Good luck with your Windows 10 device. Also note that Microsoft has stopped providing updates for Internet Explorer 10, Internet Explorer 9 and Internet Explorer 8. When you upgrade to Windows 8.1, Internet Explorer 11 will come pre-installed.
Windows 10 includes Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge. The latter is Microsoft’s replacement for Internet Explorer. That’s another reason why updating to Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 is a very good idea.