If you’ve been waiting to claim your free Windows 10 upgrade using the “assistive technologies” exception, you need to act soon. In a quiet change to an obscure web page, Microsoft announced this week that those exceptions will end on December 31, 2017.
On July 29, 2016, Microsoft officially ended the Get Windows 10 program, which offered free Windows 10 upgrades to anyone currently running a supported earlier version of Windows.
But the company left a giant loophole in a separate announcement at the same time.
Under the terms of that announcement, individuals who use “assistive technologies” received an automatic extension of the free upgrade offer. And as a Microsoft spokesperson explained at the time:
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. That said, it is not intended to be a workaround for people who don’t use assistive technology and who missed the deadline for the free offer.
Sometime in the past week, Microsoft quietly edited that page. Under the FAQ heading, the original version said, “We will make a public announcement prior to ending the offer.”
That text has been replaced and now reads: “The accessibility upgrade offer expires on December 31, 2017.”
The general Upgrade to Windows 10 FAQ page has also been revised to include the expiration date for this offer. That page has a “last reviewed” date of October 24, 2017.
Part of the stated justification for the original exception was the fact that Microsoft was still working on accessibility options for Windows 10, with a specific call-out to changes scheduled to arrive as part of the July 2016 Anniversary Update. There have been two feature updates since then, and the Anniversary Update is now the oldest supported Windows 10 version on the market.
The practical impact of this change is likely to be minimal. Corporations that have planned their upgrades to Windows 10 aren’t making budgets based on this loophole. Individuals and small businesses that have said no to the upgrade for more than two years are hanging on to the original operating system on older hardware by choice.
One practical question is whether Microsoft plans to tighten its activation code and start rejecting the automatic issuance of a digital license for Windows 10 when upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on older hardware.
We won’t know the answer to that question until after the New Year.
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