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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.