Microsoft has ceased support for Windows 8, with today's Patch Tuesday delivering the last batch of security fixes for the operating system. Operating systems get a support lifecycle of ten years, but Microsoft has deemed that Windows 8.1 is a service pack to Windows 8. You can defer installation of service packs by two years, but after that, you'll either have to upgrade or run the risk of not receiving updates.
After today, those on Windows 8 will have to upgrade to either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 to continue getting security updates from Microsoft.
The Extended Support cycle for Windows 8.1 lasts until January 10, 2023, with Windows 10 extending that date to October 14, 2025.
If you're running Windows 8, you can make the switch to Windows 8.1 with ease. Make sure you have 4GB of free disk space to install the update, then head to the Windows Store to download the Windows 8.1 update. Once you click on the download button, the update starts downloading and installing automatically in the background, requiring no intervention from your side.
If you're interested in upgrading to Windows 10 after making the switch to 8.1, all you need to do is download the install tool, select the version of Windows 10 you want to install (32- or 64-bit), and run the installer.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia for Android Central, Windows Central's sister site. When not reviewing phones, he's testing PC hardware, including video cards, motherboards, gaming accessories, and keyboards.