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Still using Windows 8.1? All support is gone.

Here's what you need to know.

Barrett Dilger

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Outdated PC

There is one IT issue that plagues companies from large to small. There always seem to be a few old computers in use that have outdated operating systems on them.

Maybe it goes unnoticed since that computer isn’t used very often, or even is noticed but paying for a rarely used machine seems like it’s not worth the money. Maybe a new system can’t be used because there is some custom or legacy software running on it that won’t work on a newer OS.

The problem with old operating systems is that they no longer receive support. No support means they won’t get updates to make them run smoothly as technology changes. It also means that they don’t get security patches to protect them, so they are ripe for the picking of any bad agent that targets them.

The latest OS to lose all support from Microsoft is Windows 8.1. This version of the OS was released in 2013 (10 years ago) and it was retired this past January.

Microsoft themselves warns that continuing to use Win 8.1 may increase an organization’s exposure to security risks.

So with Windows 8.1 officially End of Life and gone, what does that mean for your organization?

Windows 8.1 will still function.

It’s not like the removal of support will make your computer instantly crash and stop working. That’s really the danger here. Just because it can still work, many companies may ignore the fact that it’s no longer supported and keep using it. As I mentioned though, it will be a lot less safe – not just for that computer but for the entire company.

Those security holes will be an issue.

Software vulnerabilities and fixes are an ongoing arms race. Hackers look for some sort of loophole in software code, then write their own code to exploit it to give them system access.

Software developers in turn write code to patch that loophole (usually after hackers start exploiting the weakness) and those updates get rolled out to the software users to prevent that vulnerability from being exploited.

Rinse and repeat. That is what goes on daily.

When software becomes outdated and is no longer supported, as in the case of Windows 8.1, there are no patches to fix any loopholes. That leaves the system vulnerable to any attack that might be created.

Over 60% of security vulnerabilities in corporate networks are older than 2016. Many of them even have patches available but just haven’t been applied.

It only goes downhill from there. Modern tools, be it hardware or software, aren’t looking to maximize compatibility with old technology. They look to modern tech, and anticipated future tech. The longer you hold on to old tech the greater the divide becomes, keeping you stuck in the past.

Compliance Issues

Security is where the issues start, but compliance is where it continues. While not applicable to every business or industry, if your company must comply with data regulations, such as HIPAA or GLBA, then you will quickly run into issues. Data privacy rules dictate making reasonable efforts to protect data. Using an outdated device jeopardizes that compliance.

Slowed Productivity

Ok so maybe none of that applies to you, so you just go ahead and use the system anyways. What you’re not seeing is that using an old machine dramatically impacts your productivity.  One survey showed that over 3/4 of employees were frustrated with outdated technology.

Outdated technology holds your company back by hamstringing your employees. Modern tech functions faster and has the newest time saving features. Not only does using old tech greatly impact their ability to be productive, but it also weighs in on their overall job satisfaction and were more likely to leave.

What is the solution?

Simply put, upgrading your OS is the answer.

To be clear, Windows 11 is the current iteration of the software (released October 2021). Windows 10 was the version prior to that, released July 2015.

If your system is old enough to be running Windows 8.1, there is a high likelihood that it will not be able to run Windows 11.

You may want to look into upgrading to Windows 10 instead, which has a lesser level of requirements to run. However, Windows 10 is slated for End of Life October 14, 2025 and then you’ll be in the same boat again.

Granted, that is 2+ years away so if you can get another 2 years of use out of that old PC for a relatively trivial cost, that’s money well spent.

Everybody’s situation will be a bit different, but in a blanket statement I’d recommend simply upgrading the entire machine to a newer one that includes the current Windows 11 OS.

If you have any questions regarding your current hardware and software implementations, feel free to reach out for a consult. Helping keep companies safe is what we do.