Amazon has announced a critical software update for its popular Kindle e-reader which, if not downloaded by 22 March 2016, will render key features useless.

Customers that don't update run the risk of losing the ability to download e-books from the Amazon Cloud, access the official book store and use other key Kindle functions such as being able to update the device remotely over WiFi.

According to Amazon, a number of devices need the vital update:

  • Kindle 1st Generation (2007)
  • Kindle 2nd Generation (2009)
  • Kindle DX 2nd Generation (2009)
  • Kindle Keyboard 3rd Generation (2010)
  • Kindle 4th Generation (2011)
  • Kindle 5th Generation (2012)
  • Kindle Touch 4th Generation (2011)
  • Kindle Paperwhite 5th Generation (2012)

You are safe if you have later models of the Kindle including the Kindle Paperwhite 6th Generation (2013), 7th Generation (2014), Voyage 7th Generation (2014) and the Kindle Paperwhite 7th Generation (2015). Furthermore, the update appears to only impact the e-reader devices, and the firm makes no mention of the official smartphone application available on iOS and Android.

In the official statement on the Amazon website, the firm did not indicate exactly why the software update was being urgently push out. However traditionally updates marked as 'critical' are often related to security vulnerabilities. IBTimes UK contacted Amazon for comment, but had received no response at the time of publication.

If you are unsure which version of software your Kindle is currently running, you can check by following these instructions:

  • KindleKeyboard: Press the Menu button on the home screen and select Settings. The software version will be shown at the bottom of the page.
  • Kindle Touch/Kindle Paperwhite: Tap the Menu icon on the home screen and choose Settings. Tap the Menu icon, then choose Device Info.

Alternatively, you can check on the Amazon Kindle help page which lists every device and model.