On January 1, Valve ended support for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, which means that users on those older versions of Microsoft’s OS will eventually not be able to use the gaming platform. “We expect the Steam client and games on these older operating systems to continue running for some time without updates after January 1st, 2024, but we are unable to guarantee continued functionality after that date,” Valve wrote in a post on the Steam support site.
It’s a bit wild that Steam still supported Windows 7 until the start of 2024. It was a remarkably popular version of the OS even after the launch of Windows 8, but it also debuted in 2009, which is very, very long in software years. To put that in perspective, when Steam debuted in 2003, the same backwards compatibility would’ve required it to support, uh, Windows 2.1. Windows is obviously a bit more mature these days, but still—one heck of a run, Windows 7.
Microsoft’s extended support for enterprise Windows 7 ended in January 2023 (and support for regular editions ended in 2020), which means Steam outlasted Microsoft’s own support for the OS by a healthy margin. Valve says that it’s making the change now because “core features in Steam rely on an embedded version of Google Chrome, which no longer functions on older versions of Windows.” Future Steam updates will require security updates from Windows 10/11.
“We strongly encourage all Windows 7/8/8.1 users to update sooner rather than later,” Valve says. “Computers running these operating systems, when connected to the internet, are susceptible to new malware and other exploits which will not be patched. That malware can cause your PC, Steam and games to perform poorly or crash. That malware can also be used to steal the credentials for your Steam account or other services.”
Ultimately Valve is speaking to a small portion of the total Steam userbase here. According to the December 2023 hardware survey, .15% of Steam users are currently on Windows 8.1, while only .06% have stuck with Windows 7. Still, with 132 million monthly active users back in 2021, there are likely hundreds of thousands of gamers still rocking old Windows machines. Perhaps this will be the push they need to finally update—though with rumors of Windows 12 on the horizon, there’s a brand new excuse to procrastinate just a liiiiitle longer.