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It’s time to say goodbye to Windows 8. Support for the RTM (release to manufacturer) version has expired on January 10.

Microsoft’s aggressive tactics to get people onto Windows 10 How to Block the Aggressive Windows 10 Upgrade on Windows 7 and 8.1 How to Block the Aggressive Windows 10 Upgrade on Windows 7 and 8.1 Microsoft ramps up its efforts to make users upgrade to Windows 10. Come 2016, many people will wake up to a new operating system, despite never having consented to the upgrade. Don't be one of... Read More may have made you resistant to upgrading, but this is not about Windows 10! This is about the end of extended support, which eventually hits all Windows versions, some sooner, some later. This is also about your digital safety, which is in jeopardy, if you’re still running Windows 8 RTM or any other Windows version for which support has expired.

Windows Support Lifecycle

With the General Availability of Windows 8.1, customers on Windows 8 have 2 years, until January 12, 2016, to move to Windows 8.1 in order to remain supported.
Source: Windows 8.1 Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ

What Does End of Support Mean?

Every Windows release has a support lifecycle, even Windows 10, arguably Microsoft’s last Windows version Windows 10 Is the Last Version of Windows. Ever. Windows 10 Is the Last Version of Windows. Ever. Microsoft is sick of you not upgrading, and has a solution: Windows 10 will be the final "version" of Windows. Ever. This could mean that you will never again have to buy Windows. Read More . Throughout this lifecyle, Microsoft supports Windows with updates and service packs. Updates are typically delivered through Windows Update Windows Update: Everything You Need To Know Windows Update: Everything You Need To Know Is Windows Update enabled on your PC? Windows Update protects you from security vulnerabilities by keeping Windows, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Office up-to-date with the latest security patches and bug fixes. Read More  on Patch Tuesday, the second Tuesday of each month. Occasionally, critical security patches How & Why You Need To Install That Security Patch How & Why You Need To Install That Security Patch Read More are deployed immediately. During the mainstream support phase, Microsoft not only releases maintenance updates, but also continues Windows development and may implement new features.

End of support happens in two stages: end of mainstream support and end of extended support.

End of mainstream support is relatively harmless: A product that has entered extended support won’t receive any new features or improvements. For example, Windows 7 mainstream support ended in January 2015. Consequently, Windows 7 won’t receive support for Direct X 12 Here's How Gaming Will Work With Windows 10 Here's How Gaming Will Work With Windows 10 With Windows 10, Microsoft is bringing PC gaming and the Xbox One together in a big way. Find out what to expect once Windows 10 arrives. Read More , which was introduced with the Windows 10 Technical Preview that same month. During extended support, Windows continues to receive security-related updates, such as patches and hotfixes Got Windows Issues? There May Be A Microsoft Hotfix Got Windows Issues? There May Be A Microsoft Hotfix Microsoft releases a constant stream of minor updates. Some less important fixes never make it into a Windows Update package. These hotfixes solve very specific issues that only affect a subset of users. Read More , which keep your system safe and running.

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End of extended support is a much more serious affair. It’s the fate that befell Windows XP Windows XP: What's Happening To It Now? Windows XP: What's Happening To It Now? Windows XP may be dead, but it's not yet gone. Over 27% of computers connected to the Internet still run Windows XP. Here's exactly what "end of support" means for Windows XP systems. Read More in April 2014. The operating system itself won’t cease to exist or function, as Windows XP’s impressive 10.93% market share as of December 2015 demonstrates.

Windows NetMarketShare 122015

However, once extended support has expired, Microsoft is no longer providing Windows with security-related updates; Windows Update essentially shuts down. This is happening to Windows 8 right now.

What Makes the Lack of Security Updates so Dangerous?

To comprehend why it’s not a good idea to run an operating system that is no longer supported, you have to be aware of four things:

  1. A Connection to the Internet Is Sufficient to Catch Malware
    You may think you’re safe because you’re not visiting shady websites How to Avoid Malware When Viewing Videos on YouTube How to Avoid Malware When Viewing Videos on YouTube 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, so it is no surprise that malicious links can be found. Here are a few ways you might end up with malware watching YouTube videos. Read More or opening contaminated email attachments How To Spot A Dangerous Email Attachment How To Spot A Dangerous Email Attachment Emails can be dangerous. Reading the contents of an email should be safe if you have the latest security patches, but email attachments can be harmful. Look for the common warning signs. Read More . The truth is, whenever your computer is connected to the Internet, hackers and malicious software Viruses, Spyware, Malware, etc. Explained: Understanding Online Threats Viruses, Spyware, Malware, etc. Explained: Understanding Online Threats When you start to think about all the things that could go wrong when browsing the Internet, the web starts to look like a pretty scary place. Read More can potentially get in and wreck havoc on your system.
  2. Every System Has Holes
    Just because an operating system has been running and receiving updates for over a decade, doesn’t mean it’s all patched up and bulletproof 4 Ways To Bulletproof Windows XP Forever 4 Ways To Bulletproof Windows XP Forever Windows XP is slated to be exterminated for good by Microsoft in April of 2014. It is the last stage of a multi-year effort to kill off the operating system. Windows XP is one of... Read More . Chances are, the programming and security standards from around the time it was released have become outdated and are easily breached.
  3. Windows Security Updates Reveal Vulnerabilities
    As Microsoft continues to release security updates for newer Windows versions, the company inadvertently reveals vulnerabilities in older versions, except that they won’t ever get patched. Hackers might even hold back on exploiting an unknown (to the public) vulnerability until the operating system no longer receives updates.
  4. Security Software Will Also Drop Support
    Maybe you think your firewall Which Free Firewall For Windows Is Best For You? Which Free Firewall For Windows Is Best For You? We place emphasis on antivirus and malware removal, but don't ignore firewalls. Let's take a look at the best free Windows firewalls, comparing ease of setup, ease of use, and availability of features. Read More , antivirus program, Internet security suite 5 Best Free Internet Security Suites for Windows 5 Best Free Internet Security Suites for Windows Which security suite do you trust the most? We look at five of the best free security suites for Windows, all of which offer anti-virus, anti-malware, and real-time protection features. Read More , or malware scanner can protect you from attacks. The thing is, once Microsoft drops support for a Windows version, those software companies will follow suite, leaving you completely unprotected What's Next? Support Ends for Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows XP What's Next? Support Ends for Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows XP When Microsoft stopped supporting XP in 2014, they also announced that Microsoft Security Essentials would no longer be available, with updates for existing users available for a limited time only. That limited time has now... Read More .

Taken together, outdated versions of Windows are boasting with entry points for malware and opportunities for hackers. If you’re using your computer for online banking, email, social media, or if you’re storing sensitive files on it, you’d better bite the bullet and upgrade to a supported version of Windows now.

Your Upgrade Options

Essentially, you have two options: upgrade to Windows 8.1 Update, which will be supported until January 2023 or upgrade to Windows 10, for which extended support expires in October 2025. Alternatively, you could leave Windows behind and move to Linux.

Windows 8.1 Update

This is where it gets messy. Windows 8 RTM is no longer supported, but neither is Windows 8.1. What you actually have to upgrade to is Windows 8.1 Update. Now how do you do that?

Windows 8.1 Installation Files

The links above will lead you to articles showing you each step of the respective process.

Windows 10

This is what Microsoft wants you to do and frankly, if your hardware is compatible with Windows 10 Is Your Computer Compatible with Windows 10 & Can You Upgrade? Is Your Computer Compatible with Windows 10 & Can You Upgrade? Windows 10 is coming, possibly as soon as July. Are you eager to upgrade and will your system be eligible? In short, if your computer runs Windows 8, it should also run Windows 10. But... Read More and you’re planning on using the computer for a while, this is probably the best long term solution. Upgrade to Windows 10 while it’s free Is It Time to Upgrade to Windows 10, Yet? Is It Time to Upgrade to Windows 10, Yet? Microsoft really wants to you upgrade to Windows 10. But should you? To help you make up your mind, we argue both the pro and the contra, and offer careful advice. How will you decide? Read More and enjoy the latest features and the safest operating system Microsoft has to offer.

This is how you can do it:

Windows 10 Upgrade This PC

Follow the links above for step-by-step instructions. Note that when you do a clean install, you can take some settings and apps with you How to Upgrade to Windows 10 & Take Settings and Apps with You How to Upgrade to Windows 10 & Take Settings and Apps with You Windows 10 is coming and you have a choice to make. Either you upgrade your existing Windows installation, or you can install Windows 10 from scratch. We show you how to migrate to Windows 10... Read More and you’ll have to look into Windows 10 activation The Ultimate Windows 10 Activation & License FAQ The Ultimate Windows 10 Activation & License FAQ One of the big confusions surrounding Windows 10 concerns its licensing and activation. This FAQ will shed some light, explain what has changed with Windows 10 version 1511 (Fall Update), and translate activation-related error codes. Read More . Once you’re running Windows 10, be sure to familiarize yourself with the Settings app How to Control Windows 10: The Settings Guide How to Control Windows 10: The Settings Guide The Windows control panel is on its way out. Its replacement, the Settings app, has received a significant upgrade in Windows 10. We'll reveal all its secrets for you. Read More and control these default Windows 10 settings 7 Default Windows 10 Settings You Should Check Immediately 7 Default Windows 10 Settings You Should Check Immediately Microsoft made some questionable decisions with Windows 10. Some of its default settings should not be left alone. We show you how to improve privacy, conserve bandwidth, reduce distraction, and lots more. Read More .

Linux

If you’re not eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 10 or if you’d rather buy a Mac, but can’t afford it, Linux is your way out. It’s free, it’s safe, and switching to Linux is much easier Why Upgrading from Windows XP to Linux is Easier than You Think Why Upgrading from Windows XP to Linux is Easier than You Think An ideal way to give Linux a try if you're completely new to it and unwilling to invest in new hardware, is to test it out using some PCs. But how easy is it? Read More to handle than you might think.

win8_ubuntu_design

Only a Supported Windows Is a Good Windows

You’ll never be done with updating or upgrading Windows. If anything, updates will become more and more frequent. With Windows 10, we’ve been seeing more rapid and more substantial upgrades. It’s a race for innovation, not only to keep you safe, but also to keep you hooked into the Microsoft ecosystem.

Will you keep up? Which version of Windows are you on and what is keeping you there? If your Windows version is no longer supported, how are you keeping yourself safe? Share with us in the comments!

  1. Sonic Jensen
    January 19, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Thanks for the "End of extended/mainstream support" did not know that. But then again. Thats alot of time!? I have never thought windows to get me new stuff with an update, just security. Its not like android. You can choose how to run your windows. Even get windows 8 to look like vista. And with 7 and 8 4-7years.. Thats alot of time, to not worry. Maybe windows 10 is more great arround that time. Maybe its not the "bad" windows 10 it is today.. I am a tech newb. But i could not care less if my computer ran windows 7.8.10 vista or whatever. As long as i got my browser and all my programs working. So if microsoft will give me something. Then good luck, what can they give me that ppl cant mod into windows anyway :D

  2. Davin Peterson
    January 19, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Windows Vista is over 9 years old yet Microsoft will still support for another year

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