Back in December 2022, Fortnite became a "graphical powerhouse overnight (opens in new tab)" with a move to Unreal Engine 5.1. Epic described the shift as "a generational leap in visual fidelity," which of course required a bit of an adjustment to the game's hardware requirements. Epic also warned that, with the release of Fortnite Chapter 4 Season 2, Windows 10 would become a requirement.
It wasn't kidding: Chapter 4 Season 2 went live today, and Windows 7 and 8 are now officially out.
"As previously announced, starting with Battle Royale Chapter 4 Season 2, players will be required to use Windows 10 or higher in order to continue playing Fortnite natively on PC in an officially supported manner," Epic said in its latest What's New (opens in new tab) update. "Windows 7 and 8 are now officially unsupported in Fortnite."
The reasoning behind the move was explained in more detail when it was first announced last year. "As Fortnite continues to evolve, we are required to make support changes in order to grow our technology and expand the game to fulfill our vision of Fortnite's future," Epic said at the time (opens in new tab). "In older operating systems, the growing risk of security threats as well as the lack of modern features we rely on causes us to spend an increasing amount of development time on workarounds, instead of investing that time into the game itself."
I dislike change as much as anyone (and I maintain a genuine affection for Windows 7) but even so, I have to admit that it's a reasonable position for Epic to take. Windows 7 is now 13 years old, which is getting a little long in the tooth as these things go, and Microsoft officially ended support (opens in new tab) for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 in January of this year. It sucks to let old favorites go but at some point, if you want to continue advancing your technology, it's just not worth the hassle of dragging the old tech along—that's why, for instance, I no longer have a floppy drive in my PC. (Even though I am irked by its absence on philosophical grounds.)
The good news for Epic is that cutting support for older versions of Windows isn't likely to cause much pain. The Steam Hardware and Software Survey (opens in new tab) currently indicates that Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit) and Windows 8.1 users combined account for less than 2% of its total user base. That's not a definitive measure of the PC gaming audience, and no, Fortnite is not on Steam, but Steam represents a large enough portion of players that the figure can be taken as at least indicative of the overall trend—which is to say, there really are not a lot of people using pre-10 Windows these days.
If you are still using Windows 7 or 8 at this point, it really is time to upgrade. And if for some reason you can't, Epic recommends GeForce Now (opens in new tab), the Nvidia streaming service that enables games including Fortnite to be played on pretty much any platform you can imagine, as long as you've got sufficient internet bandwidth.