While Windows 7 has a fighting chance, it is game over for Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1 receives one more batch of security patches on the coming Tuesday before Microsoft lays the operating system to rest. Windows 8.1 does not get the same Extended Security Updates treatment that Windows 7 received for the past three years. Once the last patch has been released, it is game over for the operating system.
Windows 8.1 users may continue using it, but the system's security issues will no longer be fixed by Microsoft or anyone else. Browsers and other programs will stop getting updates, and some websites will refuse to work as new technologies are no longer supported by the browsers.
Windows 7, which receives the last ESU patches on Tuesday as well, looks to be in a similar situation on first glance. Microsoft won't release updates for it anymore, even though there is still demand for that. Many programs won't receive updates anymore and the situation looks identical to the one that Windows 8.1 users face.
There is a difference, however. 0Patch, known for keeping operating systems and programs alive beyond official support ranges, announced that it will support Windows 7 with at least two additional years of critical security updates. Additionally, it announced this week that it will also support Microsoft Edge on Windows 7 until at least January 2025.
With the security side of things taken care of, Windows 7 is the better option going forward for users and organizations who do not want to upgrade to Windows 10 or can't, for whatever reason. The extended security updates come at a cost, as 0Patch is charging around $25 per year and device for the privilege. Microsoft charged the same amount in the first year of ESU, but doubled the price for the second and third year.
Windows 7 users may still run into compatibility issues that prevent certain programs from running. While some software companies announced end of support already, e.g., Google with its Chrome browser, it is still uncertain for how longer others will support their programs on Windows 7 and also 8.1. Still, it seems likely that some programs will stop working. This would be a major problem in some cases. Gamers, for example, may rely on platforms such as Steam. If Valve, the company behind Steam, decides to end support for Windows 7, it could mean that Steam can't be run anymore on Windows 7 or 8.1.
All things considered, Windows 7 users are still in a better position, provided that they subscribe to 0Patch's offer to receive critical security updates for the next 2 years at least.
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