In a move that marks the end of an era, Valve announced that it would no longer provide support for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1. This decision implies that users on these older versions of Microsoft’s operating system will eventually be unable to use the popular gaming platform, Steam. Although Valve expects the Steam client and games to continue running without updates until January 1st, 2024, the company cannot guarantee their functionality beyond that date. It is worth noting that it is quite surprising that Steam continued to support Windows 7 until the start of 2024, considering that the operating system was released back in 2009.
Windows 7 remained a remarkably popular version of Microsoft’s OS even after the launch of Windows 8. Apart from its enduring popularity, it is essential to consider that Windows 7 made its debut in 2009, which is considered ancient in terms of software years. To provide some context, when Steam was introduced in 2003, it would have been required to support Windows 2.1 to achieve the same level of backwards compatibility. While Windows has undoubtedly matured since then, the fact that Windows 7 persisted for such a long time is quite commendable.
Valve’s decision to end support for older versions of Windows is mainly driven by technical considerations. The company disclosed that “core features in Steam rely on an embedded version of Google Chrome, which no longer functions on older versions of Windows.” Consequently, future updates of Steam will require security updates from Windows 10 or 11. Valve strongly encourages users on Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 to update their operating systems sooner rather than later. Failure to update exposes these computers to new malware and other exploits that will not be patched. Beyond the potential performance issues or crashes that may arise from such malware, there is also the risk of having one’s Steam account credentials and other services stolen.
While Valve’s decision affects a relatively small portion of the overall Steam userbase, it still raises concerns for those who continue to use old Windows operating systems. According to the hardware survey conducted in December 2023, only 0.15% of Steam users are currently on Windows 8.1, and a mere 0.06% are still using Windows 7. However, considering that Steam boasted a massive 132 million monthly active users in 2021, it is safe to assume that there are still hundreds of thousands of gamers using outdated Windows machines.
The discontinuation of Steam support for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 symbolizes the beginning of a new era for gamers. It serves as a reminder of the ever-evolving nature of technology and the importance of staying up-to-date with the latest software and security updates. While it may be nostalgic for some to bid farewell to these older versions of Windows, it ultimately paves the way for enhanced features, improved performance, and greater security in gaming experiences. As Valve drives the transition towards Windows 10 and 11, it is crucial for users to recognize the benefits of embracing these newer operating systems.
The termination of support for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 by Valve marks a significant milestone in the gaming industry. It highlights the need for users to adapt to newer technologies and prioritize their cybersecurity. As the gaming community bids adieu to the once-popular Windows 7, it eagerly awaits the opportunities and advancements that lie ahead with Windows 10 and 11.