As of today Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 are officially toast

Windows 8.1
(Image credit: Microsoft)
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Farewell, we hardly knew ye. Official Microsoft support for Windows 7 (opens in new tab), 8 and 8.1 (opens in new tab) ends today. While it's possible to continue using all three operating systems if you insist, you'll do so without any technical assistance. Any security flaws that emerge will likewise go unpatched.

For PC gamers, that's probably not a great loss. The latest Steam survey (opens in new tab) has the Windows 7 and 8 variants adding up to a grand total of just 2.18% of gamers.

Windows 7 has been on final life support since January 2020 when routine service was dropped and only critical security updates remained under an Extended Security Update program. Microsoft says Windows 8 and 8.1 will not benefit from that extended cover, meaning all three OSes are toast from today.

Microsoft's advice if your PC doesn't support a newer version of its OS? Get a new PC. "If devices do not meet the technical requirements to run a more current release of Windows, we recommend that you replace the device with one that supports Windows 11," says Microsoft's official guidance (opens in new tab).

Like we said, there will be scarcely any PC gamers impacted by this move. But there are still a fair few non-gaming PCs out there running these old operating systems. According to Statcounter (opens in new tab) (via El Reg (opens in new tab)), 11.2% of Windows PCs still ran Windows 7 at the end of 2022, with a further 2.6% on Windows 8.1 and 0.66% on Windows 8.

So that's one in five PCs overall running one of the three. Oh, and for the record, 0.49% of PCs are still on ye olde Windows XP. Probably all those nuclear subs (opens in new tab) and critical health platforms (opens in new tab)

Windows 7 desktop

(Image credit: Microsoft)
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Whatever, for general PC users and just possibly nuclear sub commanders, the main worry with continuing with Windows 7 or 8 will be security. Any vulnerabilities found by hackers will continue unpatched from here on in.

Very likely your best bet should you have a non-gaming PC that can't be updated to a newer version of Windows would be to look into running one or other version of Linux. Or just be extra careful when you come up for air.

Anywho, we shan't miss Windows 7 much, it was a clunky, cartoonish looking old beast that didn't really deliver on the hype. Windows 8 was a deal more interesting and largely set the tone for the cleaner more geometric look of all Windows builds that followed with its Metro UI.

It still looks crisp today and in Windows Mobile format for phones was an intriguing alternative to the iOS and Android duopoly, visually at least. Not that that prevented Microsoft's clumsy mismanagement from slowly murdering Windows Mobile's chances of competing.

But that's a story for another day and, let's be honest, a different website.

Jeremy Laird
Hardware writer

Jeremy has been writing about technology and PCs since the 90nm Netburst era (Google it!) and enjoys nothing more than a serious dissertation on the finer points of monitor input lag and overshoot followed by a forensic examination of advanced lithography. Or maybe he just likes machines that go “ping!” He also has a thing for tennis and cars.