Windows 7 and 8.1 support ends next month

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 10, 2022
Updated • Dec 10, 2022
Windows 7, Windows 8

Microsoft plans to end support for Windows 7 and 8.1 on January 10, 2022. The devices won't receive updates anymore after end of support and some programs, like Chrome or Microsoft Edge, won't receive updates anymore either immediately after support end.

Some users may wonder what they can do about it, others may already have formulated a plan. Some may continue to run devices with these operating systems, even without official update support. Others may upgrade their devices to a supported version of Windows or make the switch to Linux instead.

Here is an overview of the available options:

  • Stay on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
  • Upgrade to Windows 10 or Windows 11.
  • Switch to Linux.
  • Purchase a new PC with Windows 10, 11, Linux or a Mac.

Windows 7 and 8.1 hold a sizeable share of the Windows market share. Statcounter, one of the companies that is recording usage statistics, sees Windows 7 at a market share of 10.25% and Windows 8.1 at a market share of 2.53% in November 2022. That is almost as much combined as Microsoft's new Windows 11 operating system has (16.13%).

In other words: 12% of the entire Windows userbase face the end of support scenario in January 2023.

Here are all available options:

Stay on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1

windows 8.1 support end warning

Staying on Windows 7 or 8.1 has advantages. Nothing changes, at least not right away. Most programs continue to work just like before.

The first option has several drawbacks. A major one is that the operating systems won't receive any security updates anymore, another that popular programs, most browsers for instance, will stop getting updates in 2023. With browser support ending, some sites may not work anymore; this may be the case for finance websites but also for sites that use newer technologies.

As far as the operating system is concerned, security firm 0Patch pledged to deliver security patches for major security issues for at least 2 years after end of support. There is no such option for browsers or other programs, on the other hand. There is risk associated with this option, but mitigations may reduce it.

Upgrade to Windows 10

Is This the End of the Windows 10 Era

This option is open to all devices that run Windows 7 or 8.1. In fact, there may not even be a need to purchase a Windows 10 license, as old product keys may still allow users to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Most apps and settings will be retained during the upgrade.

Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system was released in 2015 and it will be supported until 2025. There is a good chance that Microsoft will extend support in 2025, because a good number of devices that run Windows 10 are not compatible with Windows 11.

An upgrade to Windows 10 guarantees support with updates until October 2025 at the very least. Unless Windows 10 is disliked because of privacy-critical changes made to the operating system, it may be the best option for most users who want to run a supported operating system on their device.

Upgrade to Windows 11

Windows 11 Upgrade

Microsoft changed the system requirements for Windows 11. Not all devices that run Windows 7 or 8.1 are compatible with Windows 11. Windows users who consider the upgrade to Windows 11 may want to run checks first to find out if the device is compatible with Windows 11. Most apps and settings will be retained during the upgrade.

Windows 11 is a streamlined version of Windows. Microsoft did improve it in several regards, especially when it comes to support technologies, but it also removed decade-old features from it. Users who run the taskbar on the sides or top, for example, won't find that option supported anymore. Third-party tools come to the rescue in this regard, but the operating system is more limited than previous versions in several regards.

Switch to Linux

linux mint 21

Linux is a viable option. While it depends largely on usage, there are modern Linux distributions that require little knowledge of Linux to get started. Linux Mint is a popular choice, but there are plenty of others.

The switch to Linux is a daunting task on the other hand, as it requires setting up everything from scratch. Programs need to be installed anew and some are not available on Linux. It will also take time to get accustomed to the new desktop environment.

On the positive side, Linux is considered to be more secure and privacy-friendly, and it is guaranteed that Linux distributions are available that are compatible with the computer's hardware.

Purchase a new computer

If the device that runs Windows 7 or 8.1 is particularly old, some users may use the end of support to purchase a new computer. Devices running Windows 10 or 11 may be the obvious choice, especially since some data may be migrated to these devices effortlessly. If the PC ships with Windows 10, you may want to make sure that it is compatible with Windows 11 as well.

There is a growing number of Linux devices available, and Apple Mac devices may also be an option for some. Both of these option require a learning phase, as desktop environments are different.

Now You: do you run devices with Windows 7 or 8.1? What do you plan to do? (via Neowin)

Windows 7 and 8.1 support ends next month
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Windows 7 and 8.1 support ends next month
Microsoft plans to end support for Windows 7 and 8.1 on January 10, 2022. Here is the list of options that is available!
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  1. Anonymous said on May 13, 2024 at 7:59 pm

    For general web browsing and office doc’s – then go for Linux especially for older hardware if you choose your distro (like Bunsen Labs) – on a dual core cpu with 4Gb RAM with a ssd, it works great or something like MX Linux (stick with Debian based distro’s for stability) – if you need more specialized app’s like Photoshop there’s is Gimp on linux, if you have an app that has to be on windows then keep that windows offline and dual boot into Linux for your online work or put the windows in a VM and keep that offline (assuming you have the space for a VM)

  2. Anonymous said on May 13, 2024 at 7:50 pm

    @Sol Shine, If you need to use Adobe apps (like After Effects) then an Intel GPU is gonna be too limiting as there are third party plugins that only support AMD / Nvidi graphics. Also I use a dual boot setup with BunsenLabs (a Debian based distro) and I do encoding on this with ffmpeg and I have an old AMD GPU and don’t have issues (I didn’t install the AMD driver, I just used the default from the install).

    Agreed – if you have a cpu older than about 8 years then playing videos using the latest encoding like x265 will – cause choppy playback – in that case just re-encode them with ffmpeg

  3. Marios said on February 26, 2023 at 4:11 pm

    there already out there bypass tools both for 7 and 8.1, where you can install updates to clients from server 2008 r2 and 2012 r2.

    for more info check the mydigital life forum…..

  4. Marios said on January 4, 2023 at 9:23 pm

    still cant understand…you add 4/5/6 years of support on your KB and at the same time you announced the end of support…..i hope MS gonna make the surprise even in the last minute….

  5. Anonymous said on December 13, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    Microsoft: “We also encourage developers to end support for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1. We acknowledge that this may not be easy for some developers to do, however ending support for these operating systems will HELP KEEP END USERS SAFE from potential security threats and risks as both operating systems go out of support on January 10th, 2023.”

  6. win11 user said on December 12, 2022 at 2:42 am

    I’m using windows 11 Pro N. The reason I didn’t want to move over to windows 11, was for the bloatware. When I found out there builds of windows 11 that is not loading with bloadware, I downloaded the ISO from MS. used winrar, unpacked the .ISO in a dir. Used ntlite, and pulled the windows 11 Pro N from that. I did an update before pulling it, and packing it into an . ISO.

    Used Rufus and placed it on a USB. booted from it.

  7. Ivan said on December 11, 2022 at 11:20 am

    I think the fearmongering around security patches is overblown.
    Most security holes require local access to the machine. A firewall and proper backups should be good enough for most home users.

    1. Sol Shine said on December 11, 2022 at 3:21 pm

      It depends indeed on the security bug.’
      I kept on using Windows XP untill Firefox could no longer run on it and had no security problems.
      I also plan to keep on using Windows 7 untill Firefox no longer can run on it.
      Then I plan to move my main computer to Linux (Linux Mint or MX Linux) and dual boot to Windows 10 if needed.

      You just need to do the following on your unsupported Windows:
      – use a non-admin Windows account
      – set User Account Control settings to the highest level.
      – disable as many unneeded Windows services and features as possible, especially those with a internet connection
      – use the Firewall to block internet access for all programs except Firefox and some others you need
      – Install Microsoft EMET
      – run Firefox and all internet connecting programs via the ‘drop my rights’ tool
      – keep Firefox up to date
      – use uBlock Origin and uMatrix Firefox addons to block malware
      – use the hosts file to block malware sites
      – monitor the new Windows security bugs and see if the workarounds can be applied to the unsupported Windows you are using.

      1. Anonymous said on December 12, 2022 at 6:27 am

        – Use none of the bloated junk generated with electrons for the web.

    2. Mothy said on December 11, 2022 at 1:56 pm

      Completely agree! Security updates are only one layer of security when using a defense in depth strategy and are not even the most important. There are other much more important layers of defense that will protect a system from malware. Experience has proven this strategy for 20+ years now, as I have used various old outdated Windows operating systems (95, 98, 2000, XP, 7, etc.), even old outdated web browsers, for long periods of time without any malware issues.

  8. Sol Shine said on December 10, 2022 at 10:41 pm

    In the past months some mayor linux distributions (Fedora, OpenSUSE, Manjaro) have been disabling hardware accelerated decoding and encoding of H264, H265 and VC1 videos in the Mesa graphics stack due to fear of being sued over patents.
    Only decoding and encoding via the GPU is then possible, but this drains the battery of laptops and cause choppy videos on computers with weak CPU’s.

    Intel and Nvidia have their own software stack and do not use Mesa for their modern hardware and so are not affected.
    The problem only affects computers with AMD GPU’s or old Nvidia hardware ( don’t know about old Intel hardware yet).

    The problem will be fixed for Fedora with a community repository (RPM Fusion) that has Mesa with support for the codecs still enabled.
    I hope a similar project will be created for Manjaro.
    Another solution is for AMD to stop using Mesa. I hope this happens.
    The root of the problem is US software patents, and the solution is US politics, so do not expect a real solution for a long time.

    For now, if you plan to move to Linux on a laptop after Windows 7 and 8 loses support, it best to have a laptop that does not have a AMD GPU.
    Nvidia has a bad reputation supporting Linux, so it is best to go for a laptop with a Intel GPU.


  9. Anonymous said on December 10, 2022 at 9:48 pm

    I’ll keep using Windows 7 till further notice. Although Windows 11 is Microsoft’s most recent operating system, many users still choose Windows 7 over Windows 11. Customers that want an operating system that is straightforward, reliable, and provides a wide variety of critical capabilities without a number of unnecessary bells and whistles.

  10. Mothy said on December 10, 2022 at 7:05 pm

    I plan to stay on Windows 8.1 (Pro with Classic/Open Shell) for a while on two Dell desktop systems and eventually will move to Linux.

    As to some websites complaining about using an OS or web browser that is no longer supported, there is always the option to change the user agent to make it look like you are using a newer OS and/or browser version. It works well for most websites.

  11. Anonymous said on December 10, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    Sometimes, when following media about M$ and end of support cycles of popular products it reads like sponsored fearmongering rather than just a news. i mern, is there aynbode who dont know yet about EOS of win7?

    (one of the last OS that is not fully infected with phone home stuff unless you installed the patches where M$ deliberately tried to grab data from win7 users too)

    should be clear by now that M$ is trying slice by slice to transform not only their OS product into something they can put a subscription model on + remove any remaining control from the user.

  12. 11r20 said on December 10, 2022 at 6:02 pm

    From an ol’tymer >

    The advantages of using an un-Googled, Locked-Down Win7-Pro for ‘forum-use’ ‘podcasts’, ‘RSS-feeds’ and ‘other fun stuff’ for us seniors > Outweigh considering Any nefarious-Micro$oft-updates or future upgrading.

    Although a locked-down Win7 is fast and fun, IMO as a business owner > it’s Not Feasible for today’s googled-up generation of newer operating systems that are used in today’s modern office settings

    11r20 from Texas

  13. DirCmpUser said on December 10, 2022 at 2:29 pm

    typo on line 1:
    “Microsoft plans to end support for Windows 7 and 8.1 on January 10, 2022.”

    Hybrid option: install a Linux distribution as a dual-boot option with existing 7/8/8.1 and use it on the net and use 7/8/8.1 for offline only stuff. Done it with one of my three, current machine is next to get the treatment.

  14. Juraj M. said on December 10, 2022 at 11:24 am

    There is now also ChromeOS Flex option:
    (ideal for slow/old devices or Chrome powered simple users)

  15. Tom Hawack said on December 10, 2022 at 10:00 am

    Windows 7 here. My horizon :

    1- Stay on Windows 7 à la Titanic;
    2- Purchase a new PC with Linux … or a Mac (I have the latter increasingly in mind).
    3- Forget it all, exit all computing devices, all connections, tv, radio and move to some quiet place somewhere in the Caribbean with nothing but the sky and ocean, sound of silence.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 10, 2022 at 11:57 am

      Tom, 3 may sound nice right now, but unless you really, really like hot weather, you will probably long for the cold rainy Parisian days pretty soon :)

      1. Tom Hawack said on December 10, 2022 at 1:19 pm

        … and its walkways on the grands boulevards … (Gary Moore – Parisienne Walkways). Maybe. But i’ve spent so many years abroad and don’t recall nostalgia wherever I happened to live (“Wherever he lay his hat was his home…”, The Temptations, Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone) that I believe I’d only rejoice. But I’m digressing.

        Until then (applicable or not) it’ll be Win7/Titanic, a gorgeous OS bound to vanish (Léo Férré – Avec le Temps).

        Thought and written musically.

    2. Jek Porkins said on December 10, 2022 at 11:20 am

      I don’t think you will go with option 3, I think it’s more likely for you to go with Windows 10/11.

      1. Anonymous said on December 11, 2022 at 12:33 am

        If he has the money, he can do that lol. Common people that need their monthly paychecks never bothers about what their windows version is.

      2. Tom Hawack said on December 13, 2022 at 12:51 pm

        @Anonymous, I hesitate between a Havana in Nassau and a Cutty Sark in La Havana. Be noted that in-between there’s a myriad enjoyable living islands :=)

    3. NeonRobot said on December 10, 2022 at 10:52 am

      0. Staying on 7.

      Esu pos updates till late 2024 + 0patch + enthusiast fixes. Firefox still available. So no worries here.

  16. userpasspass said on December 10, 2022 at 9:27 am

    Anyway, Microsoft has become a joke after Bill Gates left.

    Rapid Windows release cycle is clown at best, Windows 10 is still new and Windows 11 is already there plus 12 is being developed.

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