Microsoft has officially put an end to the era of complimentary Windows 7 to 10 or 11 updates. This recent development was communicated through an official statement on the Microsoft Device Partner Center communications portal, which was brought to light by Windows Central.
Back in 2015, when Windows 10 made its debut, Microsoft took an unconventional approach by offering it as a free upgrade to users who were clinging to older operating systems, particularly the beloved Windows 7. This generous offer was intended to lure die-hard Windows 7 enthusiasts into the modern era.
The original free upgrade offer was scheduled to conclude on July 29, 2016. Nevertheless, tech-savvy individuals and DIY enthusiasts noticed that Microsoft’s activation servers continued to accept upgrades from those seeking a long-overdue transition. In fact, people could even download fresh Windows 10 and 11 ISO files and seamlessly install them on their systems, using ‘spare’ Windows 7 or 8.X keys from their retired machines. However, as of September 20, 2023, this grace period has finally drawn to a close.
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Microsoft has now clarified its stance on Windows upgrades with a concise statement: “Microsoft’s free upgrade offer for Windows 10 / 11 ended July 29, 2016,” it says. “The installation path to obtain the Windows 7 / 8 free upgrade is now removed as well.” However, it’s worth noting that Windows 10 users still have the option to upgrade to Windows 11, at least for the time being.
In addition to this announcement, Microsoft also took the opportunity to remind potential Windows 11 users of the operating system’s minimum system requirements. Regular readers of Tom’s Hardware are likely familiar with the stringent Windows 11 installation criteria, encompassing factors such as processor generation, TPMs, and the customary recommendations regarding RAM and storage.
It’s worth noting that there have been documented methods to bypass these Windows 11 minimum system requirements. Some third-party Windows 11 distributions, like tiny11 from NTDEV, come equipped with built-in workarounds for these OS prerequisites.
While Windows Central conducted a test to verify the implementation of Microsoft’s new policy, it found that “these older keys still activate the production builds of Windows 11.” However, it remains uncertain how long this upgrade opportunity will persist following Microsoft’s recent official announcement.