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Windows 10 was available as a free upgrade for one year, but that offer finally ended on July 29, 2016. If you didn’t finish your upgrade before that, you will now have to pay the full price of $119 to get Microsoft’s last operating system (OS) ever.
— Windows (@Windows) July 28, 2016
However, Microsoft has left open a small backdoor that you can exploit to get the Windows 10 upgrade after the deadline. While the offer is closed for the general public, Microsoft invites customers who use assistive technologies on Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 to upgrade for free anytime.
So how do you benefit? Well, Microsoft isn’t actually checking if you use assistive technologies or not.
What’s Happening After the Deadline?
Throughout the free upgrade period, Microsoft was aggressively pushing Windows users onto the new platform through the Get Windows 10 (GWX) campaign. Microsoft tried sneaking the upgrade through Windows Update, which has been one of the most annoying persistent notifications on Windows computers.
Notifications for the Get Windows 10 app may persist for a little longer, but ZDNet reports that Microsoft will eventually take it down, now that the free upgrade offer has expired:
On July 29th the notifications will end. The Get Windows 10 (GWX) application will advise that the free upgrade offer has ended. In time, we will remove the application.
Since it is no longer a recommended update, Windows Update should stop bugging you with that little tooltip. Presently, Microsoft has no plans for further upgrade offers or similar schemes.
If you have successfully upgraded your device to Windows 10 before July 30, you will be able to use it legitimately. Note that your Windows 10 license is tied to your hardware and is not transferable to a new computer. The consequence of not upgrading is to pay the full $119.
But there’s still one little trick to get you a Windows 10 upgrade for free: Microsoft Assistive technology.
How to Get a Free Windows 10 Upgrade After July 29
Assistive technologies are part of the Ease of Access menu in your Settings. This consists of built-in features like a narrator to read out on-screen text and buttons, a magnifier to zoom in on the screen, closed captions to turn audio into text, and so on.
There are also specialized third-party assistive products, like voice recognition software to transcribe your speech. Any software or hardware that provides accessibility to users with special needs comes under this category.
For any such customer, the Windows 10 upgrade will remain free. And it makes sense to upgrade too, since the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition update — releasing on August 2 — has greatly improved assistive technologies. The narrator has been improved, doubling its speed, added new commands for navigation, and has deeply embedded assistive technology in Microsoft Edge and Cortana, the voice-based virtual assistant.
— Windows (@Windows) June 29, 2016
However, Microsoft has made no effort to actually check if a customer uses any assistive technology. At this point, anyone can get a free Windows 10 upgrade, even though the official deadline is up.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Make sure you are already running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 with a valid license.
- Back up all your data before you begin.
- Go to www.microsoft.com/accessibility/windows10upgrade
- Click Upgrade Now to download the Microsoft Update Assistant Tool. It’s an EXE file and will work only on Windows.
- Run the Update Assistant and follow the on-screen instructions.
- The tool will download the latest release of Windows 10 (currently version 1511), after which it will start the installation process.
Once the installation process was initiated, you can follow our guide to upgrade to Windows 10. After the setup finishes, you might also want to delete Windows.old to regain space, although keep in mind that this will prevent you from downgrading to your previous Windows version, unless you made a backup.
Microsoft hasn’t declared when it will end this upgrade offer for assistive technology users, but has said that there will be a public announcement before it ends. So for now, you can still get a free Windows 10 upgrade if you missed out during the deadline, albeit not ethically.
Is It Just an Oversight?
Possibly, yes. As one Redditor astutely pointed out, the Upgrade Now button is linking to an Update Assistant Tool version that doesn’t check for any assistive technology, instead of another version that seems to check for it.
So when you’re downloading the Update Assistant Tool from the site, check if it’s a file titled “Windows10Upgrade9252.exe” or if it’s “Windows10Upgrade24074.exe”. If it’s ending in 24074, then you have nothing to worry about.
Do You Think This Is Deliberate?
Several people think that this continued upgrade offer is a ploy by Microsoft. The company has publicly stopped the official upgrade, but left this backdoor wide open, without any checks whatsoever. By making it seem like an oversight, people who were still holding out for another scheme may end up upgrading now before this backdoor is shut.
Do you think Microsoft intentionally left the accessibility-based upgrade open to anyone? Or was it just an oversight that will be corrected soon?
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