Windows 10 free upgrade is still available using Windows 7 and 8 product keys

In spite of the official end of the free Windows 10 update offer on July 29, it seems any valid Windows 7/8.x retail product key still installs Windows 10 for now.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Why Windows must die - again

Yes, Microsoft officials insisted and insisted again that after July 29 at 11:59 p.m. UTC, the free Windows 10 upgrade offer would end.

But it didn't -- at least not completely.

The Get Windows 10 (GWX) promotions seem to have ended. But I've heard from several Windows users that they've been able to take advantage of the free Windows 10 update using their older Windows 7/8.X product keys after July 29.

Users have been able to both kick off and activate Windows 10 on machines where they've previously installed Windows 10, as well as on machines where they've never installed Windows 10 using their Windows 7/8.X product keys.

My ZDNet colleague Ed Bott mentioned in passing in an updated post about Windows 10 that he also was able to get Windows 10 for free after July 29 using a never-used Windows 7 Ultimate product key. Paul Thurrott of Thurrott.com also noted last week that he still was able to get Windows 10 for free using an existing product key.

While some have noted that Microsoft isn't restricting Windows 7 and 8.X users -- whether legitimately or not -- from continuing to have access to Windows 10 via the company's assistive technology offer, this key loophole is different.

I asked Microsoft why the Windows 10 free upgrade offer seemingly has not ended completely as announced. A spokesperson, reiterating that the Windows 10 free upgrade offer has ended, provided the following statement today:

"Users upgrading their PC for the first time will need to enter a Windows 10 product key. Users who've previously installed Windows 10 on their PC should activate successfully with a digital entitlement when reinstalling Windows 10 on that PC."

But the reality goes beyond this. It seems Windows users who have not yet updated to Windows 10 can still use any valid Windows 7/8.x retail product key to install Windows 10 as of now on any PC.

I also asked Microsoft when and whether the company planned to cease allowing old keys to unlock the free upgrade to Windows 10 offer, but the spokesperson declined to answer.

I'm not complaining, mind you, that Microsoft is still allowing existing Windows 7 and 8.X users who want to get Windows 10 for free to continue to get it. Some had wanted Microsoft to give users a grace period of at least a few days between the end of the free Windows 10 upgrade offer and the commencement of the rollout of Windows 10 Anniversary Update on August 2.

My guess is it just might take Microsoft some time to phase out availability of the free Windows 10 bits, the same way company officials said it likely would take some time for them to phase out the Get Windows 10 app and prompts. Or maybe Microsoft execs decided to make the phase out more gradual than they said publicly in case there was a big backlash (in spite of the many notices and prompts alerting users of the pending end of the free update offer.)

All I can say is it would have been helpful for Microsoft officials to acknowledge there was some leeway as to the end of the free upgrade -- especially given there were a number of individuals who couldn't get Windows 10 to update in spite of numerous attempts.

Bottom line: We don't know when Microsoft will finally and completely shut off the free Windows 10 updates for Windows 7 and 8.X users. But if you still don't have Windows 10 and want it, I'd say you should hurry.

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