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May 27, 2024

Steam Ends Support for Windows 7 and 8.1 – What It Means for Gamers

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Jan 2, 2024

As of January 1st, 2024, Steam has officially ended support for Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1. This means that the Steam gaming platform will no longer run on these older Windows operating systems. For gamers still using these legacy OSes, it signals the need to finally upgrade to Windows 10 or risk losing access to their Steam libraries.

The Lead Up

This change has been a long time coming. Steam first announced they would drop support for Windows 7 and 8.1 way back in January 2023. They cited the growing technical complexities of supporting the outdated operating systems.

Windows 7 reached its official “end-of-life” from Microsoft back in 2020. This meant that Microsoft would no longer be providing updates or support for the 10+ year old OS. Vulnerabilities and compatibility issues were expected to grow over time.

Steam continued providing compatibility updates to keep Windows 7 working up until the January 1st, 2024 deadline. But they have finally pulled the plug in accordance with their year-long heads up.

Immediate Impact on Windows 7 & 8.1 Gamers

The most immediate effect is that the Steam client will simply fail to launch on Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs as of January 1st. Updating or reinstalling the client will not solve the issue.

Gamers still on these legacy OSes have lost access to their Steam libraries until they upgrade to Windows 10 or Windows 11. This includes both downloaded games and cloud game streaming through Steam.

For most, this will likely force the long-delayed upgrade to a modern Windows version.

Number of Affected Gamers

Based on the latest Steam hardware survey statistics from December 2023, roughly 1.42% of Steam users were still running Windows 7. A further 1.04% remained on Windows 8.1.

This translates to around 2.46% of Steam’s entire user base of 120 million players affected by the end of support. The actual number is likely in the range of 3 million Steam players who will need to upgrade PCs or operating systems.

The vast majority of these should be able to upgrade to Windows 10, which Steam still fully supports along with Windows 11. A fraction of the affected users with very old hardware may need PC upgrades as well.

What Support Options Exist for Impacted Gamers?

For most, upgrading PCs and operating systems to maintain Steam access will be straightforward. However there still exists a subset of gamers utilizing legacy hardware on which upgrading Windows may be difficult.

Here are a few options these individuals have:

Dual Booting: Setting up a dual boot system with Windows 10 on a separate hard drive partition. This will allow switching between the old and new OSes while keeping data separate.

Cloud Gaming: Steam now offers remote play cloud gaming for its entire library. This streams games to any computer over the internet. One option is leveraging an alternate computer running Windows 10/11 to play Steam games remotely.

Hardware Upgrade: For those with extremely outdated PCs, a hardware upgrade with modern parts able to run Windows 10 may be required. This includes replacing older CPUs and increasing RAM allocation – often for machines over 10 yrs old.

Find Alternatives: Seek competing gaming services that still retain Windows 7/8.1 support. However most other major players have also ended legacy OS support.

What Does This Mean for Future Support?

The dropping of Windows 7 and 8.1 support coincides with Steam’s newer hardware and software requirements instituted in 2023. Namely, Steam now mandates Windows 10 64-bit and proprietary graphics drivers for GPUs.

These policies reinforce Steam’s stance on requiring up-to-date and supported hardware/software configurations moving forward. They are also aimed at easing software development targeting fewer Windows platforms.

Further evidence indicates Steam will continue phasing out legacy OSes on a roughly 3 year timeline from their end-of-life dates:

Windows Version Mainstream Support Ended Steam End of Support
Windows 7 2020 2024
Windows 8.1 2018 2024

Adhering to this precedence, we can expect Steam to drop support for Windows 10 by October 2025 – which is 3 years after Windows 10’s own official mainstream support lapsed.

The Future is Windows 11

Given Steam’s continued endorsement of newer Windows platforms with faster update cadences, Windows 11 is now the obvious way forward for gamers. The OS already makes up 58% of Steam’s survey share after just 2 years since its 2021 release.

Windows 11 includes gaming focused features like:

  • Auto HDR
  • DirectStorage API
  • Efficient multi-core CPU scaling

These cater to developers building the next generation of games – which rely on modern Windows hardware and software capabilities not found in legacy releases.

For PC gamers interested in keeping their libraries and online game stores contiguous across upgrades, transitioning to Windows 11 is the logical long-term solution.

Those still holding onto Windows 7/8.1 devices have reached an impasse – either upgrade now or risk losing access to much of modern PC gaming. And based on Steam’s roadmap, even Windows 10’s days are numbered.

Table: Windows Support Timelines

Here is a comparison of Windows version release dates and their corresponding support policies – including Steam client support projections:

Windows Version Initial Release Mainstream Support End Extended Support End Projected Steam End of Support
Windows 7 2009 2020 2025 2024
Windows 8.1 2013 2018 2023 2024
Windows 10 2015 2025 2030 2025
Windows 11 2021 TBD TBD TBD

Conclusion

The move by Steam to drop Windows 7 and 8.1 mirrors the platform’s shift towards requiring modern OS infrastructure for future functionality and updates. And with Windows 10’s extended support running out by 2030, Steam too will eventually phase it out in the later half of the decade.

For gamers with legacy systems, difficult upgrade decisions need to be made in the short term to avoid losing Steam library access. Meanwhile Windows 11 adoption continues ramping up as it becomes the new baseline for PC gaming in the long run.

The message is clear – upgrade now or risk missing out as gaming progresses towards technologies not supported in the Windows Vista/7/8 era. Many exclusives and multiplayer titles will simply not work. And those sticking to outdated platforms will find themselves left behind.

So for anyone still reluctant, Steam’s dropping of Windows 7/8.1 should serve as the final wake up call to join the rest of the PC world in adopting modern Windows platforms. Refusing to do so means closing the door on next generation Steam gaming experiences.

AiBot

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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