Before Microsoft launched Windows 10 last summer, it announced that the OS would be offered as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.1 devices during its first year of availability. This week, it finally answered the question of what will happen to that offer when it reaches its first birthday in July.
Microsoft said that its offer will end, as planned, on July 29. After that, anyone wishing to upgrade to Windows 10 will have to pay to do so - and with no special upgrade pricing available, it said that users will have to buy a full Windows 10 Home license, priced at $119.
However, Microsoft has since clarified that the end of the upgrade offer won't apply to everyone who is currently eligible for it. On its Accessibility Blog today, the company 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.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in December that the company is firmly committed to ensuring that accessibility is 'core' to its mission. In a company-wide email, he said:
As I think about living our mission, top of mind for me heading into 2016 is how we must make Microsoft products accessible to the more than 1 billion people globally of all abilities. This is a shared goal. Universal design is central to how we realize our mission and will make all our products better. Along with our Senior Leadership Team, I will continue to devote my time and passion to this priority.
Specifically, we will do three things: First, be transparent in sharing our goals and plans to ensure our products are accessible. Second, be accountable, which means engineering leads will prioritize universal design in the development of all products and services going forward. Third, continue to make this part of our work on building a more inclusive culture, including efforts to expand our existing accessibility hiring and awareness training initiatives and programs.
With major improvements to accessibility features in Windows 10, Microsoft has apparently decided that the best way to honor that commitment is to continue to offer the OS as a free upgrade indefinitely, ensuring that users with disabilities can get the best - and most accessible - experience that it offers on their devices.