On Friday, July 29, Microsoft celebrated the one-year anniversary of Windows 10's launch, bringing an end to its free upgrade offer for owners of Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs. Microsoft said in May that once the offer had ended, those wishing to upgrade would have to purchase a new Windows 10 license for their PC, priced from $119.
But the company has left a loophole, enabling anyone to upgrade to Windows 10 free, despite that deadline having passed.
The origins of the loophole go back to another Microsoft announcement in May, in which it revealed that the July 29 deadline "will *not* apply to customers who use assistive technologies", adding that it was "committed to ensuring that users of assistive technologies have the opportunity to upgrade to Windows 10 for free".
At the time, many - including some of our readers - raised questions over how that offer would be managed. Would users be required, for example, to provide verification of a disability to Microsoft? Would the company access telemetry on users' systems to seek confirmation that some assistive technology - such as Narrator or Magnifier - had been in regular use?
The process seems to be far less complicated than some had expected. The free upgrade can be initiated from this page on Microsoft's site; an EXE file is downloaded to the user's PC, but as Lifehacker and The Verge noted, beyond a checkbox asking if you use assistive technologies, Microsoft doesn't appear to be making any verification checks before the upgrade begins.
As the FAQ section on the Microsoft page explains:
What assistive technologies are eligible for the extension?
We are not restricting the free upgrade offer to specific assistive technologies. If you use assistive technology on Windows, you are eligible for the free upgrade offer.
I’m planning on purchasing a third-party AT that I had not needed previously. Will the upgrade extension still be valid?
Yes. If you require assistive technology on Windows, you are eligible for the free upgrade offer.
Microsoft hasn't yet announced when it will end the free upgrade offer for those using these technologies, but says that it "will make a public announcement" before doing so.