Windows 8.1 Mainstream Support Ends, Free Windows 10 Upgrade Still Available

When we look back at Windows operating systems over the past decade or so, it's commonly understood that Windows Vista was loathed, Windows 7 was seen as a return to Windows 2000's glory days (and is still popular to this day), while Window 8.x was greeted with a collective "meh". Windows 8 was first released in late October 2012, and was followed by Windows 8.1 (essentially a service pack) in October 2013.
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If you have made the transition from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 and have stuck with the operating system instead of upgrading to Windows 10, the time has come to reevaluate your decision. Mainstream Support for Windows 8.1 ended yesterday, January 9th 2018. With Mainstream Support, customers have access to new features, non-security updates, complimentary support from Microsoft from any issues that may arise.

Windows 8.1 has now moved into the Extended Support phase of its lifecycle, which means that customers can no longer request to have changes made to the OS or add new features. Non-security updates are only available with Extended Hotfix Support, and complimentary support from Microsoft gives way to paid support options. About the only good thing about Extended Support is that security updates will continue to be pushed out to Windows 8.1 systems.

According to Microsoft, Windows 8.1 Extended Support will end five years from today, on January 10th, 2023. At that point, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates (except in extremely rare situations).

For those that are still running Windows 8.1, you might want to take advantage of Microsoft’s offer to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. The promotion is geared towards customers that use assistive technologies, but there are no restrictions in place to prevent anyone from downloading and installing the operating system for free. The free upgrade offer is valid through January 16th, 2018, although we have the feeling that Microsoft might extend it further once that deadline passes.

(Image Source: Dell)