Microsoft Changes Windows 10 ‘Free Upgrade’ Rules

am an experienced freelance technology journalist. I write for Wired, The Next Web, TrustedReviews and the BBC in addition to Forbes. I began in b2b print journalism covering tech companies at the height of the dot com boom and switched to covering consumer technology as the iPod began to take off. A career highlight for me was being a founding member of TrustedReviews. It started in 2003 and we were repeatedly told websites could not compete with print! Within four years we were purchased by IPC Media (Time Warner’s publishing division) to become its flagship tech title. What fascinates me are the machinations of technology’s biggest companies. Got a pitch, tip or leak? Contact me on Twitter , Google+, my professional Facebook page or via email: gordonATgordonkelly.com. I don’t bite.

The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Last week Microsoft warned that free Windows 10 upgrades will soon end – but fear not! Microsoft has now posted a new update revealing a rule change which will allow some users to enjoy free upgrades forever…

Taking to its Microsoft Developer blog, Senior Program Manager Daniel Hubbell explained:

“As you may have heard, the free Windows 10 upgrade offer for customers running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 is set to end on July 29, but we want to clarify that that deadline will *not* apply to customers who use assistive technologies. We are continuing to deliver on our previously-shared vision for accessibility for Windows 10 and we are committed to ensuring that users of assistive technologies have the opportunity to upgrade to Windows 10 for free as we do so.”

Windows 10 free upgrades have taken a new twist. Image credit: Microsoft

Windows 10 free upgrades have taken a new twist. Image credit: Microsoft

What are ‘assistive technologies’? Typically features which aid users with physical disabilities like poor eyesight or limited mobility. That said the official Microsoft Accessibility page for Windows 10 is wide ranging and lists assistive technologies that many people will use as a matter of course:

  • Use Magnifier to see items on the screen
  • Use text or visual alternative to sounds
    • Use the On-Screen Keyboard (OSK) to type
    • Using Keyboard shortcuts
    • Hear text read aloud with Narrator
    • Make your PC easier to use with Ease of Access Settings
    • Use Speech Recognition to control your PC

    As such there is some confusion around exactly how liberal Microsoft will be in applying this new free upgrade rule. In this regard Hubbell only offers the following: “Stay tuned for more details on how you can take advantage of the free offer.”

    I have been in touch with Microsoft’s press team to push for more information but met a similar response with a spokesperson stating: “We will provide more details on how customers can take advantage of this deadline exception in the coming weeks.”

    Windows 7 and Windows 8 users still wondering whether to upgrade will soon have to make a decision. Image credit: Gordon Kelly

    Windows 7 and Windows 8 users still wondering whether to upgrade will soon have to make a decision. Image credit: Gordon Kelly

    So could there be a potential loophole here for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users who want to hold off upgrading? Perhaps, but right now it’s a tease.

    Furthermore I’d suggest you draw two simpler conclusions:

    Firstly, it’s actually nice of Microsoft to make Windows 10 free forever for those requiring assistive technologies. Secondly, I’d suggest a simpler route to getting Windows 10 free: upgrade now then rollback. Upgrading registers Windows 10 to your PC so you can then return to it at any time without being charged.  

    That said with just 10 weeks to go until the Windows 10 free upgrade deadline a lot still remains unknown. Interesting times are ahead…

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