Microsoft: More details on the end of 'Get Windows 10' and what's next

Microsoft is ending not only the Windows 10 free upgrade offer, but also its 'Get Windows 10' (GWX) update campaign on July 29. Here's what to expect as GWX is phased out.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft's year-long offer to Windows 7 and 8.X PC and tablet users to get Windows 10 as a free update ends today, July 29, as Microsoft reconfirmed it would back in May this year.


What else ends today? Microsoft's aggressive campaign to get those users to update to Windows 10 via its "Get Windows 10" app and prompts.

I've been working to track down some more specifics as to what will happen after today, regarding GWX and automatic installs of the Windows 10 November Update (1511). Microsoft has been very (I'd say, overly) pushy about trying to get users to take the free update -- so pushy that there are two more suits against the company over this that are seeking class-action status, as reported by The Seattle Times.

Here are some of my questions and Microsoft answers (provided via a spokesperson) about the end of the GWX campaign.

Q: Why is the free offer ending? What's Microsoft's stated reason?

A: We've said from the beginning that the free offer will be available for the first year and we believe a year gives our customers sufficient time to make the move to Windows 10. We're pleased to see that more than 350 million active devices have upgraded to Windows 10.

Q: Any numbers you can share as to percentage of the 350 million running Win 10 that are attributable to the free upgrade offer? If not, could you at least say whether the free upgrade offer met Microsoft's goals?

A: We offered a free upgrade to Windows 10 to make it easy for the world to upgrade to the best - and most secure - version of Windows. Now, there are over 350 million active devices running Windows 10 around the world, with the highest customer satisfaction of any version of Windows. We are pleased with our progress to date but aren't breaking out these numbers.

Q: Is Microsoft thinking at all about offering some kind of new free/discounted upgrade offer once Anniversary Update is available? Or definitely not?

A: There are no current plans to do other free upgrade offers at this time. (MJF note: The Windows 10 free upgrade program will not cease for anyone using assistive technologies. Microsoft is taking users at their word and isn't applying any kind of check as to whether users are actually using these technologies.)

Q: Will MS still be marking Windows 10 as a recommended update on July 30 to those with Auto Updates turned on? Or will this no longer be the case?

A: The free upgrade offer ends at 11:59 p.m. UTC-10 on July 29, 2016. As such, it will no longer be available as a recommended update through Windows Update. (MJF note: This is the first time Microsoft officials have said this. I've been asking for the past couple of months and they declined to comment.)

Q: Microsoft officials said it will take a while for all the Get Windows 10 prompts to stop showing up. If people running Win 7/8.X see the GWX prompt starting July 30 and click on it, what happens? Will they go to a site suggesting they buy the update?

A: 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.

Q: What will happen after July 29 to individuals who've been trying to download Win 10 but can't get it to complete? Will they somehow get a reprieve?

A: Upgrades must be fully completed by 11:59 p.m. UTC-10 on July 29, 2016. (MJF note: Here are some last-minute tips and suggestions from Windows Most Valuable Professional Andre Da Costa if you're one of these users stuck in limbo between Windows 7/8.X and Windows 10.)

Q:. Will the media creation tool for Win 10 for updaters still be available after July 29?

A: After July 29th users will be asked to enter a valid product key when upgrading for the first time from Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 through both the Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant and the Media Creation tool. Users can continue to use the Media Creation Tool to create Windows 10 installation media.

Yesterday, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to me that Microsoft plans to make ISOs of Windows 10 Anniversary available to users on August 2, the day that Microsoft will begin making the Anniversary Update available to users on PCs, tablets, Xbox One, Surface Hub and HoloLens. (Officials recently said not everyone will be getting the bits on August 2 on all device types. The release will be staggered, they said.)

Officials are not yet saying publicly when Microsoft will make Windows 10 Anniversary Update available on MSDN or on the Microsoft Volume Licensing Servicing Center. (I asked.) Hopefully they will next week.

Update (August 1): Hearing from a number of readers that the Anniversary Update (1607) is available for download now, a day earlier than many of us expected, through the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).

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