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Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE

Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches

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Microsoft is urging users running Windows 8.1 to update their systems soon, since the company plans to drop patch support for early versions of the operating system.

Redmond said that after May it would only issue updates for systems running the Windows 8.1 Update release and later. The move means that Windows 8.1 systems which have not installed the "Update" package will receive "not applicable" notifications when attempting to install future system updates.

"Since Microsoft wants to ensure that customers benefit from the best support and servicing experience and to coordinate and simplify servicing across both Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8.1 RT and Windows 8.1, this update will be considered a new servicing/support baseline," the company said.

"What this means is those users who have elected to install updates manually will have 30 days to install Windows 8.1 Update on Windows 8.1 devices; after this 30-day window – and beginning with the May Patch Tuesday, Windows 8.1 user's devices without the update installed will no longer receive security updates."

Released April 7, the Update package is a cumulative set of security fixes for Windows 8.1. The package gained headlines shortly after its release when users reported certain compatibility problems with the Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) component.

Systems which have automatic updates enabled will receive the 8.1 Update package without the need for further interaction. Users who manually manage their updates, however, will need to have the package installed in order to get updates in the future.

Users running Windows 8 systems can obtain the fix when they download and install the latest versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 RT.

While losing support for updates will be a major security hazard for those left behind on older versions of Windows 8,1, the issue is likely only to affect a small subset of Redmond's customers.

Windows systems typically ship with automatic updates enabled out of the box, and according to research from Netmarketshare, just 4.89 per cent of users run Windows 8.1 April Update version or otherwise. By comparison, 6.41 per cent of users run Windows 8, and 48.77 per cent of users still rely on Windows 7.

Windows XP, which is now some 13 years past its release date and was dropped from support earlier this month, claimed 27.69 per cent of users. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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