Still Running the Outdated OS Windows 8.1?

Companies both large and small typically share the same problem – They have computers that still running older operating systems, or outdated OS. Staff might use these devices only occasionally, or in the case of some organizations, they may be running customized software that won’t run on newer OS versions.

The problem arises when the OS becomes outdated. This leaves the system vulnerable to cyberattacks. When Microsoft or other OS developers retire an OS, it means that it is no longer supported – it will no longer receive feature updates and security patches for newly found vulnerabilities.

The latest operating system to cross the rainbow bridge is Windows 8.1. Microsoft released the OS in 2013, officially retiring it on January 10, 2023. Microsoft issued the following warning alongside the retirement:

“Continuing to use Windows 8.1 after January 10, 2023 may increase an organization’s exposure to security risks or impact its ability to meet compliance obligations.”

Here below is some information regarding what this statement from Windows actually means.

The Outdated OS Will Still Technically Work

When an operating system reaches its end of life, it doesn’t just magically stop working. As such, many companies continue usage without realizing their security risk. The OS will work perpetually as it did the day before retirement, but will be significantly less safe due to the loss of support.

Your Outdated OS Will No Longer Receive Security Patches

Software and OS vulnerabilities are exploited very often. The vulnerability cycle usually begins with hackers finding a software “loophole,” then write code to exploit it. This usually allows them some type of system access.

When software developers learn of this, they write code to fix that vulnerability. Developers then send the fix to users via an update that the users install. This protects the device from one or more hacker exploits on the current system version.

When an OS reaches its end of life, however, these fixes are no longer created. The vulnerabilities that exist past its last patch perpetually exist. This leaves affected devices vulnerable to hacks for days, months, or even years afterward.

Approximately 61% of security vulnerabilities in corporate networks are over five years old.

Options for Upgrading an Outdated OS

If you have a computer still running Windows 8.1, you have two options for upgrading. You can move to Windows 10 or Windows 11. With the computer running such an old OS, there is a chance your system may not meet the requirements for one or both. In this case, unfortunately, you may need to buy a new device altogether.

Some of the advantages you gain when upgrading include:

·        Better built-in security

·        Faster processing

·        Capability for more modern features (like facial recognition)

·        Improved accessibility features

·        Updated productivity tools (like snap layouts in Windows 11)

What Happens If I Don’t Upgrade?

Outdated OS Security & Compliance Issues

Your security is at risk if you continue to run Windows 8.1. Without any security updates, any vulnerabilities will stay unpatched. This will leave your system highly vulnerable to breaches. A single hacked system on a network can spread the breach or malware infection to newer devices.

If you have to comply with a data privacy regulation, like HIPAA or CMMC, you’ll also run into issues. Privacy rules dictate making reasonable efforts to protect data. Using a device with an outdated OS often jeopardizes meeting compliance standards.

Slowed Productivity

The older systems get, the slower they get. Work on outdated software often complain hurts productivity. 77% of surveyed employees were frustrated with outdated tech. Employees are 450% more likely to want to leave and work elsewhere if their tech is outdated and outmoded.

An outdated operating system can also hold your staff back. They miss out on modern time-saving features and can run into problems with bugs that will no longer get fixed.

Incompatibility With Newer Tools

Software and hardware developers aren’t looking back – once a OS developer retires an OS, software and hardware developers aren’t prioritizing its compatibility. In many cases, these developers do not want their product to be compatible with outdated OS because of the liability.

When you have issues using modern software and hardware, it hurts your business. You become less competitive and begin to fall behind your competition.

Get Help With Your Outdated OS

Travel Tech Managed IT Services helps you upgrade smoothly from an older Windows OS to a new one. If you need a new system, we will find you the best value. Give us a call today to schedule a chat about upgrades and where your security stands.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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