Microsoft is to close its free Windows 10 migration offer to users of Windows 8.1 within the next 24 hours as part of its winding down of support for the unloved operating system.

After five years, Microsoft stopped offering mainstream support for Windows 8.1 on 9 January. That means that the company won't be implementing new features, although what it calls "extended support" will ensure they continue to receive security updates for a further five years - until 2023.

Although the company told users to make the switch to Windows 10 in order to benefit from fixes, patches and updates, some people have been reluctant to upgrade, even though the company too the unsual trouble of making the upgrade free.

Indeed, despite giving users a year to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, a report from NetMarketshare indicates that millions of Windows 8 and 8.1 users had spurned the offer by the time of the deadline in July 2016

However, Microsoft offered extra time to people who claimed to use assistive-technologies, such as braille keyboards and screen readers.

The company warned users that it would close this loophole on 31 December, 2017. However, that day came and Microsoft extended it till 16 January - tomorrow.

Based on Microsoft's track record, some people have suggested that the firm will continue to keep this loophole open to convince more consumers to switch to Windows 10.

Windows 8.1 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor Windows 7, which lost mainstream in January 2017. And Microsoft severed ties with Windows Vista completely last year.

Even though it is out of mainstream support, Windows 7 still remains one of the world's most popular computer operating systems, boasting a market share of around 40 per cent.

In comparison, Windows 8 (launched in 2012) and 8.1 (released a year later) never really took off, with Windows 7 proving popular and Windows 10 arguably more polished and less alienating for Microsoft's core customers than its immediate predecessor.