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Is Microsoft Ending Support for Windows 8.1?

In an interesting twist to the Microsoft OS saga, Microsoft announced that it will cease providing security updates for Windows 8.1 unless users upgrade the software to Windows 8.1 Update (the newest Microsoft OS update). What’s Microsoft’s reasoning behind this verdict?

A Change in How Microsoft Upgrades
To help us better understand what’s going on with Microsoft, we can find a statement on this issue from their official blog.

All future security and non-security updates will be built on these latest product updates, so existing Windows 8.1 customers will need to be running these latest product updates in order to continue to receive future product improvements and security updates.

The deadline Microsoft gives users to upgrade their Windows 8.1 operating system with “Windows 8.1 Upgrade” is May 13th. If this date comes and goes, and you haven’t gotten around to upgrading, then your system will face similar security vulnerabilities as users running the unsupported Windows XP operating system. However, it’s important to note that running an unsupported Windows 8.1 OS will be significantly less risky than running an unsupported Windows XP OS, due to the twelve year difference between the two systems.

One of the worst security risks that comes from running an unsupported OS is that hackers are aware of this much-publicized vulnerability and they have written malicious code to take advantage of the fact that Microsoft no longer “has your back.” The same hackers that had the Windows XP end-of-support date circled on their calendars will pull out their big red marker for May 13th.

Microsoft’s Reasoning
The end goal here for Microsoft is to get every user on board with automatic updates. As reported by The Motley Fool, “Microsoft is attempting to shift its update model away from big releases into a more rapid cadence of feature improvements. To accomplish that, the company has to figure out how to change consumers’ attitudes toward installing Windows updates.”

This is a practical move by Microsoft. With everyone using automatic updates, every Windows user would automatically receive the latest security upgrade. Consequently, Microsoft won’t have to make a big announcement every time they release an important security patch. However, it’s unclear if this new upgrade-or-be-vulnerable strategy will work for Microsoft.

What Will the Public’s Response Be?
Many users are still sore over the recent end of support for Windows XP, and Windows 8 sales figures have been below Microsoft’s expectations. Also, for similar upgrading reasons, Microsoft originally designed its XBox One with a mandatory “Always On” feature that would require users to have an Internet connection “always on” in order to use the console. In the case of XBox One, Microsoft had to scrap this feature due to user backlash. In the case of Windows 8.1, this update-or-else strategy also has a chance of failing because many PC users prefer to be in control of what goes on with the computers, which is why some users elect to turn off their Automatic Update feature.

Other times, a user may elect to disable Automatic Updates because some updates require a system reboot which can hinder workflow. When it comes to software updates, it can be time consuming to stay on top of when the next security patch will be released, along with what the consequences are for not upgrading. This is why TMS offers businesses like yours our managed IT services, which includes having us remotely take care of your system updates.

Using our remote maintenance tools, we can stay on top of the latest upgrades for your software so that you don’t have to, and we make sure to apply the updates while your business is closed so that you’re not forced to reboot and experience downtime. Give TMS a call at 1 (626) 737-2960 to make sure that all of your company’s software is current and performing at maximum efficiency!