There have been a lot of deprecations lately as the world moves on to better and brighter technologies and security. But with such changes, comes a little sacrifice here or there as some users find that they are forced to move forward and onward. Steam is the next to do such by dropping support for certain earlier versions of Windows OS.
This was expected since most everyone has let go of Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 versions of the OS. They are no longer supported by Microsoft for feature/security updates and most other companies have moved on as well in order to avoid compatibility or security troubles.
As of today, Valve (the company behind Steam) has officially dropped support for these operating systems as well. This means that it will no longer provide any new updates for anyone still using them. It doesn’t mean that these users will lose access to their games just yet, but it does mean that it could happen at anytime as compatibilities begin to crumble.
Thankfully, there aren’t a lot of gamers still making use of these earlier operating systems unless they are focused on classic/retro builds. And in those cases, it is likely more for emulation and other practices more than anything else (like running old software that fails to work with the newer Windows OS versions.
In order for these users to continue receiving updates and skip the risk of losing access to online Steam libraries, they would have to upgrade Windows to either Windows 10 or (preferably) Windows 11. The latter of the two would guarantee a more future-proofed decision. The latter also would mean building or buying into a new computer as anything running Windows 7-8.1 likely wouldn’t meet the hardware requirements of Windows 11. While at the same time, Windows 10 is no longer free either coming from earlier versions and licenses have to be bought from third-party sources. So it will cost users one way or another.
Again, this is always expected as companies cannot be forced to support outdated operating systems for too long. The longer it takes to move forward, the longer they dwell within a limited or potentially unsecured past. Embracing newer operating systems and technologies guarantees faster advancements and support for modern security.