As Microsoft has previously warned, the company will discontinue support for Windows 7 Extended Security Update (ESU), Windows 8, and 8.1 on January 10, 2022. This means that users of these operating systems will need to upgrade to Windows 10 or 11 in order to continue receiving technical assistance and software updates. This includes crucial security updates that were still being delivered to Windows 7 systems via the ESU program, despite most other support for the OS ending in January 2020. Microsoft has stated that it will not offer a similar ESU program for Windows 8 or 8.1.
According to StatCounter, Windows 7 is used on more than 11% of desktops worldwide, Windows 8.1 is used on 2.59%, and Windows 8 is used on less than 1%. In contrast, Windows 10 is used on 68% of machines and Windows 11, which has seen relatively slow adoption among consumers, is used on about 17%. However, large organizations, which typically adopt new operating systems at a slower rate than consumers, are beginning to test Windows 11 in earnest.
Microsoft is urging Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 11. In a support document, the company wrote that “PCs have changed substantially since Windows 7 was first released 10 years ago. Today’s computers are faster, more powerful, and sleeker – plus they come with Windows 11 already installed.” Microsoft also noted that most Windows 7 machines do not meet the hardware requirements for upgrading to Windows 11, but users have the option to upgrade their Windows 7 PCs to Windows 10 instead. However, support for Windows 10 will end on October 14, 2025, so users will need to weigh whether to take the intermediate step to Windows 10 or go directly to Windows 11.
In addition to ending support for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, Microsoft will also release version 109 of its Edge browser and WebView2 Runtime, which will be the last versions to support these operating systems. These releases are scheduled to be rolled out this week. “While Microsoft Edge and WebView2 Runtime versions 109 and earlier will continue to work on these operating systems, those versions will not receive new features, future security updates, or bug fixes,” wrote Microsoft’s Edge team. Google is also discontinuing support for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 with Chrome 109, the last version of Chrome to support these operating systems. Chrome 110, tentatively scheduled for release on February 7, will be the first Chrome version to require Windows 10 or 11.