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Microsoft Down its Free Upgrade and its Backdoor Loophole

It's too late to get a free upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10

OS upgrade

Today, we mourn the beloved Windows 8.1 as Microsoft shuts down every hope for a last-minute free upgrade from Windows 10. After five years of Windows 8.1 debut, Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 8.1 on January 9. The news, although sad wasn’t yet heartbreaking as Microsoft’s assistive technology still had a loophole, that just closed.

Before you get too disappointed though, speculation may speak of a hope. Considering that Microsoft first announced the expiration date of the assistive technology loophole as Dec. 31, 2017, but extended the same to Jan. 16, it's very likely to speculate that there's still a chance for the company to push the deadline to a later date. According to Microsoft, given the one-year window to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, consumers should have already migrated to, a modern OS with bug fixes, patches, and periodic updates. Yet NetMarketshare states that only 7 percent of users have refused to upgrade, or simply forgot to do it by the July 2016 deadline. 

As of now, the free upgrade is dead and the average consumer remains to live with forever unchanged Windows 8.1 with no new features or bug fixes. But every cloud has a silver lining and here it’s Microsoft’s migration of the OS to “extended support,” which will provide security updates for another five years, until 2023. 

As some may call it the “assistive technology” loophole, Microsoft lets users with assistive technologies, such as screen readers or a Braille keyboard, to upgrade their Windows, way past its deadline. The USP of this loophole is that it runs on the honor system. So, if a user ever used Windows 10’s Narrator function or dictation, one could theoretically get away with the crime arguing that they had used Microsoft’s assistive technologies and qualified for the upgrade. While Microsoft didn’t really care, the tech giant seems to change its mind now. Microsoft originally warned users that the loophole would expire Dec. 31, 2017, however, had extended the deadline until January 16.

Considering the obvious possibility that “assistive technology” loophole was really just Microsoft’s tool to get its users to upgrade to Windows 10. However, it's also possible that Microsoft is using the loophole as a perpetually extensible back door of sorts to allow upgrades. It’s also possible that Microsoft’s moment of mercy has ended and there is no way to avail this opportunity anymore. In case you can, here’s how to do it: Visit Microsoft’s assistive technology site and click the big “Upgrade now” button. While it’s certain that Windows 8.1 will continue to receive security hotfixes for another five years, it's still not as robust and secure OS as Windows 10.

Manish <span>Content Strategist</span>
Written By
Manish Content Strategist

With a mixture of literature, cinema, and photography, Manish is mostly traveling. When he is not, he is probably writing another tech news for you!

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