You’ve heard of Christmas in July. Well how about spring cleaning in January? Microsoft is kicking off 2016 with arguably its most significant Patch Tuesday in months. As of today, Microsoft bids goodbye to all but one version of Internet Explorer and a Windows release it would rather forget.
The biggest item on the chopping block is Windows 8. Not Windows 8.1—that sweeping update is still supported—but the original, non-Start button version of Windows 8. After Tuesday’s updates, Microsoft will cease support for the 3 year, 2 month, and 17-day old operating system. That means Windows 8 is going the way of Windows XP; no more security updates, no bug fixes, nothing.
Users still on Windows 8 will have to upgrade to Windows 8.1 or make the jump to Windows 10. Both are free upgrades for Windows 8 users at this writing. That may be problematic for some if you have an oddball PC that is no longer supported by a manufacturer and thus missing drivers for a smooth experience. Other than that small minority of users, everyone else should dump Windows 8 as soon as possible.
If you’re going from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, remember that the upgrade happens via the Windows Store and not Windows Update.
The story behind the story: Windows 8 was supposed to be a revolutionary OS that had two different interfaces, built to run on both PCs and tablets. The idea was inherently flawed and ultimately failed. Microsoft tried to improve the situation by adding features PC users wanted in Windows 8.1, but it really wasn’t until Windows 10 that Microsoft’s vision of a single OS running everywhere came to satisfying fruition.
IE goes to eleven
Windows 8 is going to have some company in the dustbin of history. Microsoft plans to discontinue almost all support for Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10. This issue only affects Windows 7 users who haven’t upgraded to IE11, and Windows 8 users who must upgrade to Windows 8.1 or 10 to get the latest version of IE.
Everyone else—Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 users—already have IE11 as it came built into their systems. In fact, Windows 10 users are barely affected since the built-in browser of choice for Microsoft’s latest OS is the new Edge browser.
If you’re a Windows 7 user with automatic updates enabled then you should have IE11 already. To check which version you’re running, open Internet Explorer click the Settings cog in the upper right corner, and select About Internet Explorer. A pop-up window will appear with all the details you need.
If you can’t be bothered to check don’t sweat it. A patch rolling out today for Windows 7 will detect the version of IE you have and then continue to bug you until you upgrade.
The only exception to the end of IE versions 8 through 10 will be Windows Vista, which will continue to get support for Internet Explorer 9. IE9 was the last version of the browser built for the OS. But that support won’t run for much longer. Microsoft will end support for Vista in April 2017, which means the OS will cease receiving security updates all together—just like Windows 8 and XP.
Microsoft’s latest round of security patches start rolling out Tuesday but may take a few days before they land on your system.