The End of Support for Windows 8.1: What You Need to Know

Regardless of their size, companies face a common cybersecurity challenge: using outdated computer operating systems. This can be due to staff’s infrequent use of specific devices or reliance on custom software that only runs on older OS versions. However, using outdated OSes exposes systems to potential cyberattacks since they no longer receive feature updates or security patches for newly discovered vulnerabilities.

Microsoft recently retired Windows 8.1, released in 2013 and is no longer supported as of January 10, 2023. In a warning to companies, Microsoft stated that continuing to use Windows 8.1 beyond this date could increase their exposure to security risks and potentially impact their ability to meet compliance obligations.

The OS Will Still Function, But Security Risks Will Increase

When an operating system reaches its end, it does not automatically cease functioning. Consequently, many companies may continue using it without recognizing the potential security risks. Although the OS will continue functioning as before, it will become less secure due to the lack of support.

Your System Will No Longer Receive Security Updates

Hackers constantly search for software and OS vulnerabilities to exploit. They exploit a software “loophole” by writing code that allows them to access a system. Once hackers breach systems, developers learn of the vulnerability and create code to fix it. They send the fix to users through updates, which protect the device from further exploitation.

However, when an OS ends, developers stop providing security updates, leaving the vulnerability unfixed. This leaves the device open to hacks for a long period, whether days, months or even years. Therefore, keeping your system up-to-date with the latest security updates is important to avoid potential exploitation by hackers.

Upgrade Options for Outdated Windows 8.1

A significant finding reveals that approximately 61% of security vulnerabilities in corporate networks are over five years old. If you are still running Windows 8.1 on your computer, you have two options for upgrading to a more secure and up-to-date OS – Windows 10 or Windows 11. However, if your computer is running such an old OS, it may not meet the system requirements for either option, and you may need to purchase a new device.

Upgrading to Windows 10 or 11 provides several benefits, including better built-in security, faster processing speed, support for modern features such as facial recognition, improved accessibility features, and updated productivity tools such as snap layouts in Windows 11. However, Microsoft does not offer a free upgrade option from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 or 11. It is crucial to upgrade to a

more modern and secure OS to avoid the potential exploitation of security vulnerabilities in outdated software.

The Risks of Not Upgrading to a Newer OS

Security and Compliance Concerns

Staying on Windows 8.1 poses significant risks to your data security. Without security updates, any vulnerabilities in the system will remain unpatched, leaving your device susceptible to a breach. A single hacked system on a network can spread malware or other security threats to other devices.

Additionally, if you must comply with data privacy regulations such as HIPAA, using an outdated OS can lead to compliance issues. Compliance regulations require taking reasonable measures to protect sensitive data. Using an outdated OS puts your system at risk of a breach, and failing to upgrade jeopardizes your compliance efforts. Therefore, upgrading to a more secure and up-to-date OS is crucial to avoid potential security and compliance issues.

Impact on Productivity

Outdated software and systems slow down over time, significantly impacting productivity. A survey revealed that 77% of employees found outdated technology frustrating, resulting in decreased productivity. Furthermore, employees working with outdated systems are 450% more likely to seek employment elsewhere, causing higher company turnover rates.

An outdated operating system can impede staff from using modern time-saving features, leading to inefficient workflows. They may also experience issues with bugs that will not receive further fixes, causing delays and errors in their work. Therefore, upgrading to a more modern and efficient operating system can improve productivity, employee satisfaction, and retention rates.

Lack of Compatibility with New Tools

Software and hardware developers often prioritize creating products compatible with the most up-to-date operating systems as technology advances. Once Microsoft retires an OS, they are unlikely to prioritize compatibility, and some may even avoid it due to liability concerns.

Using an outdated operating system can cause issues when using modern software and hardware, negatively impacting your business. This lack of compatibility can lead to decreased competitiveness and falling behind in the industry. Staying on an outdated OS keeps your business in the past and limits your ability to use new tools and features. Therefore, upgrading to a more recent and compatible operating system is essential to keep your business competitive and efficient.

Get Assistance with Windows Upgrades

Upgrading to a new Windows operating system can be a challenging thing, but we are here to help make the change smoother for you. If you require a new device, we can guide the best options for your needs and budget.

Contact Qamba today to schedule a consultation regarding your upgrade options and how we can assist you in ensuring the security of your system. Our team is dedicated to providing expert support and guidance throughout the upgrade process to help you seamlessly transition to a more efficient and secure operating system.

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