If you’re still using Windows 8 (instead of the much improved 8.1), we’ve got bad news for you. Microsoft has ceased offering patches and security updates for the Windows 8 operating system, which means that if you want to be using the most secure and up-to-date operating system, you should make the switch to Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.

On January 12th, 2016, Microsoft stopped supporting both Windows 8 and older versions of Internet Explorer (8, 9, and 10). Basically, this means that businesses continuing to use this software will no longer receive patches or security updates, which are critical for ensuring maximum network security and minimal data risk. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that the software will disappear from your workstations. All that the end-of-life announcement means is that they won’t be updated anymore, turning the unsupported products into “use at your own risk” gambles.

For those familiar with Microsoft’s product support policies, the end of life for Windows 8 might sound out of character for a Windows operating system. For example, Windows 7, which was released over six years ago in 2009, won’t reach its official end of support date until 2020. In comparison, Windows 8 was released in 2012 and only lasted a few solid years. Why?

Microsoft’s choice to stop supporting Windows 8 makes complete sense, especially considering how unpopular the operating system is (not to mention how easy it is for users to upgrade to 8.1). According to NetworkWorld, a study by NetMarketShare puts Windows 8 global use at around 2.76 percent, while 8.1 sits at over 10 percent. As a free update that fixed many of the common complaints that consumers had about Windows 8, Windows 8.1 doesn’t give Microsoft much of a reason to continue supporting Windows 8.

Another huge reason that Microsoft likely cut the cord on Windows 8 so prematurely is due to their efforts to push Windows 10, their latest operating system. Users of Windows 7 and onward have no-doubt been hassled by Windows 10 upgrade notifications, which continue to grow more irritating over time. Despite Microsoft’s continued heckling, Windows 10 is a great operating system that’s more than capable of replacing Windows 8. Before upgrading, however, it’s important to consult a professional technician to ensure that your company’s legacy software will be compatible with your new operating system.

Using outdated operating systems can put your business at risk, especially if these operating systems are no longer supported by their creators. An operating system that doesn’t receive regular patches and security updates becomes a liability. Hackers are always coming up with new ways to exploit vulnerabilities and steal information, so it’s only a matter of time before they come up with ways to compromise Windows 8.

The primary problem with continually updating your business’s hardware and software solutions is that it can ultimately be both costly and time-consuming. For a small or medium-sized business, unexpected expenses can be crippling and budget-breaking. In some cases, legacy applications could be completely incompatible with more recent operating systems, forcing you to invest heavily in new technology solutions. This is why it’s always a best practice to clarify with qualified tech professionals that your upgrade policy won’t completely derail your operations.

To make sure that your technology systems are always up to date and secure, Net It On, LLC offers a remote management and maintenance solution that lets us deploy patches and security updates as needed. For more information, give us a call at (732) 360-2999.

February 1, 2016