It’s the second Tuesday of the first month of 2016, which means it’s time for Microsoft’s first security update of the year — and it’s a big one. Not in that it opens up new features and improves performance across the board, but because it brings an end to mainstream support for the Windows 8 OS and several versions of Internet Explorer.
Microsoft has a history of providing long-standing support for many of its operating systems, but there is always a cut off point; there’s only so much time and resources Microsoft can put into propping up old platforms. And today marks the final resting place of Windows 8. Anyone continuing to use it without the 8.1 service pack upgrade will no longer have full support.
Of course if you are running Windows 8 and want to stay protected, you have a lot of options. There’s the Windows 8.1 upgrade, which will cover you until 2018 for mainstream support and 2023 with extended support. The best option, though, would be to use your free upgrade to Windows 10. It’s only redeemable until the end of July this year, so get to it if that’s your plan.
As for those using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, certain versions of the older browser are now no longer supported. You can continue to use older versions, but they need to be in specific configurations. If you’re on Windows Vista, you need to be using IE 9 or newer. If you’re on Windows 7, you need to use IE 11 or newer. And if you’re on Windows 8.1, it needs to be IE 11 too.
Microsoft doesn’t really encourage any of that though, and would much rather you upgraded to Windows 10 and used its new Edge browser. It has a lot of feature improvements and it will get a lot more attention from Microsoft’s developers when it comes to updates and security patches.
If you forget to do any of these updates in the next few days, don’t sweat it too much. As WinSuperSite points out, Microsoft has a plan to remind you every so often. It will annoy you into updating if its has to.
For a full list of changes this Patch Tuesday, check out Microsoft’s changelog here.