As a result, users have been urged to upgrade to Internet Explorer 11 or to install the tech company’s latest web browser, Microsoft Edge.
They have also been advised to switch to Windows 8.1, by accessing the upgrade assistant from the Windows Store, and afterwards opt for a Windows 10 update, completely free of charge.
Those who will fail to install these more recent versions will no longer be able to benefit from security patches and other forms of technical support whenever new vulnerabilities are identified, and could risk having their systems more easily infected by various types of malware.
Windows 8 was unveiled back in 2012, and since it was originally considered to be a new operating system, it was supposed to be supported by Microsoft for at least a decade.
However, given the fact that few users were content with this new system software, which had banished the beloved “Start” button and the classic desktop interface (replacing it with a Modern/Metro mode based on tiles), developers quickly began working on yet another version.
That is how Windows 8.1 was launched just a year afterwards, and that new revamp brought back the “Start” button and also the possibility to revert back to desktop mode, alongside numerous other improvements and features.
From that point onward Microsoft 8 was treated as a mere “prior service pack”, believed to include a set of inconsequential enhancements, and therefore unworthy of the “operating system” title.
As a result, Microsoft was no longer obliged to spend 10 years providing technical assistance, updates and fixes for this disappointing product.
Instead, the support period was limited to just 2 years following the launch of its successor, and now the time has come for Windows 8 to finally be given the boot.
Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10 face the same fate today (with the exception that IE9 and 10 will still benefit from updates on Vista SP2), but these browsers’ decline has been in the making for a much longer period of time.
When Internet Explorer 6 was launched in August 2001, its popularity soon soared, but this led to an unprecedented number of attacks from malicious software, such as adware disguised as pop-ups or unclosable windows.
That is when users first began to flock to Mozilla Firefox instead, which appeared to be much safer and less vulnerable to malware. It also included an innovation which has become commonplace and almost taken for granted nowadays: tabbed browsing.
Gradually, Firefox grabbed more and more of Internet Explorer’s market share, and even if version 7 of Microsoft’s browser, released in October 2006, was also upgraded in order to incorporate tabs and other useful features, the company never managed to make a full recovery.
Another worthy competitor appeared in September 2008, in the shape of Google Chrome, which seemed even smoother and faster than Mozilla Firefox. Therefore, when Internet Explorer 8 became available in 2009, the new software application was viewed with growing suspicion and reserve.
While users had become frustrated with how slow-moving and unreliable the browser was, programmers had had enough of the bugs, security problems and inordinate amounts of coding required when trying to make a web app work correctly on Internet Explorer.
IE9 appeared in March 2011, with IE10 following on its heels, at the end of 2012, but neither of these browsers succeeded in countering the harm that had already been done by rivals such as Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
Therefore, it’s definitely not surprising that Microsoft has decided to stop providing support for this software, so as to switch its focus on Internet Explorer 11, which was unveiled in October 2013, and on Edge, which was made available in March 2015 for Windows 10 users.
Only time will tell how these two programs will fare, especially now that Microsoft’s ability to create a dependable browser has been called under question for so many years.
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