Microsoft Ends Support for Windows 8


In a move that's been a long time coming, Microsoft has announced that it will no longer be giving support to Windows 8. Although this is a big announcement, it certainly shouldn't be a surprise to users who have been paying attention.

Microsoft stated in a blog post almost two years ago that support for Windows 8 would end Jan. 13, 2016. Thankfully, users of this OS have the very simple option of upgrading to Windows 8.1, which will have Microsoft support until Jan. 9, 2018.

What's happening and why?

When companies like Microsoft are saying that they are "ending support" for a specific service, what they're actually saying is that they'll no longer be applying updates to the software in question. The reason Microsoft has to constantly work on the OS is because of how massive the system is. The company simply cannot foresee every single problem users might have with it, so programmers have to continuously go back and patch the software.

While this very often translates to the general usability of the OS, many updates put out by companies like Microsoft have to do with security. Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities in a piece of software, especially one as widespread as Windows. When these nefarious individuals do find a hole in the OS' security, they exploit it for personal gain. Microsoft has to therefore go back and close up these vulnerabilities, thereby blocking future hackers from attacking innocent people.

You might view that constant reminder to update as an annoyance. However, that pop up getting in the way of your Internet browsing is just trying to make sure your information is safe.

What happens when you don't update?

The only thing hackers love more than looking over current OS editions to find vulnerabilities is reviewing outdated ones for security holes. People are often slow to upgrade, and there is a good section of the population that refuses to make a change because they've grown accustomed to how a certain system works.

That being said, using outdated software is one of the easiest ways to leave yourself open to attack from hackers. Just look at the incident that befell the municipal network in Naperville, Illinois, in 2012. Officials working for the Chicago suburb had forgotten to update some Web software that the city used, which resulted in a cyberattack of epic proportions.

After the dust settled, Naperville spent around $760,000 on investigations of the event and updates for their cybersecurity system. Despite the fact that this hack cost the city quite a lot of money, the Chicago Tribune stated that the cyberattack "used very basic, off-the-shelf tools."

Even though Naperville's hack came as the result of outdated Web software rather than an entire OS, the principle here is the same. Not updating your software can leave you wide open to attack. Hackers relish the end of OS support, as many users will forget or simply refuse to upgrade. Cybercriminals view this time as open season on any person with outdated software, and those worried about the security of their information should make sure they upgrade from Windows 8 as quickly as possible.

End of support means more will upgrade to Windows 10

Although the end of support spells bad news for users who refuse to upgrade, Microsoft is doing its best to remind everyone of the dangers of lagging behind. And in all honesty, there really isn't a reason not to move on up. Windows 10 has been a free upgrade for Windows 8 users for quite a while now, although they will have to upgrade to Windows 8.1 before moving to the newest Microsoft OS.

With that in mind, the end of Windows 8 support is going to usher in a whole host of computers running Windows 10. If the rave reviews for Windows 10 continue to pour in, it's not a stretch to think that this OS is going to be widely used very soon. Whether or not that means Microsoft will hit its goal of Windows 10 running on a billion devices within the next couple of years remains to be seen, but the point here is that Microsoft and its wide variety of software aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

What that means for you depends on how much computer based training you have with Microsoft systems. Having Microsoft certified training will be extremely handy if Windows 10's popularity keeps up, and this end of support for Windows 8 is only going to usher in new users. Therefore, now is the time to get a Microsoft certificate in order to get ahead of the curve.

New Horizons is your one-stop-shop for all of your Microsoft Certified training needs. With courses in everything from Microsoft Office to more technical aspects such as Azure and Windows Server, New Horizons can help you take that big next step in your IT career.

Feb 2016

By: Terry Mott