Those of us that busted our rumps to get our fleets/dozens/hundreds of PCs upgraded to Windows 10 in time for July 29, may have some reason for temper at Microsoft. It turns out the deadline was mostly a myth.
Basically, Windows 10 will still accept any valid Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 key in the installer, and you can still upgrade for free. You just have to do it a little differently.
The press line, Microsoft says you can only get a free upgrade if you need to use Assistive Technologies. In reality, they’re quite readily telling people that you can still use the Media Creation Tool to upgrade offline.
But wait there’s more!
All Microsoft did on July 29, was kill the Get Windows 10 (GWX) app. The Assistive Technology offer app, simply re-installs GWX (or a modified version of GWX) onto the PC, and allows the upgrade to continue.
Other routes to upgrade to Windows 10, also still work – sans needing to click a button saying you’re disabled. If you run the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool (MCT), you can still upgrade to Windows 10. You don’t even need to tell Microsoft that you use assistive technologies – which include things as simple as the Windows Magnifier app.
When is the real end?
It’s impossible to say. It will only truly end when Microsoft stops handing out Digital Entitlement licenses (or Digital Licenses, the new name for Digital Entitlement as of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update) for valid Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 product keys.
It certainly won’t happen until Microsoft posts a dead-date for their Assistive Devices “offer” (I won’t call it a ploy, out of respect, but clearly Microsoft could have communicated this sooner).
I suspect the dead-date will come long after the Anniversary Update is old news. It would not surprise me at all, if the Windows 10 Media Creation Tools for future versions of Windows 10, also proudly accepts Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 keys.
Frankly, the dead date may never come. Microsoft may simply continue to allow the Windows 10 installer and activation server to accept Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 keys. They may simply block the Windows 10 upgrade installer from doing in-place upgrades on those systems (and again, they may not even bother to do that).
In sum, you may be able to upgrade forever. Or not. It’s quite possible Microsoft hasn’t even made up its mind yet. It certainly isn’t too happy that I’m writing this article, because it makes their upgrade deadline seem silly. As it should seem, because it was and is silly.
But we do know one thing – the July 29th deadline was for the most part, a myth. Anyone that wants Windows 10 upgrades for free, can still get it.
I don’t like to theorize on this too much. Microsoft can do whatever they want with old licenses. But I think the main reason is customer service. I think Microsoft didn’t want any “aww shucks” moments for users who realized how great Windows 10 is… compared to Windows 8.
A lot of people felt those kinds of moments when they missed out on the bargain-bin $29.99 Pro Pack upgrade keys for Windows 8. Those keys turned any version of Windows XP, Vista, or 7 into Windows 8 Pro with Media Center. I bought my fair share… and I even felt bad for not picking up more copies.
I think Microsoft wanted to avoid any potential for that, and will probably keep the digital license servers running – happy to accept any latecomers to the party.