Aw Shucks, Microsoft Finally Ends The Free Windows 7 To Windows 11 Upgrade Party
The free Windows upgrade party is over, or at least much more restrictive. It's common for Microsoft to offer a free upgrade path when releasing a new version of Windows, but it swung the doors wide with the release of Windows 10 and 11. It's been possible to upgrade from Windows 7 all the way to Windows 11 until now. Microsoft has announced this loophole is now closing for good.
Windows 10 launched in 2015, and for a time, it looked like Microsoft would just keep updating that OS indefinitely. After the backlash it received for Windows 8, Microsoft was anxious to get everyone on the new platform. Initially, there was a one-year free upgrade from Windows 7 and 8 to Windows 10, and then it extended that period for anyone who needed assistive features (or claimed to). However, it never stopped allowing the free upgrades.
Even when Windows 11 launched in 2021, the keys from Windows 7 and Windows 8 were still valid for upgrades. Technically, they continue to work as of this posting, but it's only a matter of time now. Microsoft quietly announced last week that it is ending the free upgrade path from Windows 7 and 8. "Microsoft's free upgrade offer for Windows 10 / 11 ended July 29, 2016. The installation path to obtain the Windows 7 / 8 free upgrade is now removed as well. Upgrades to Windows 11 from Windows 10 are still free," the notice reads.
The change has already rolled out in the Windows Insider Canary channel, meaning it should hit the stable version most people run in the near future. Microsoft is currently testing the next major refresh of Windows, which is expected to debut early next year. So, you've probably got a little time to take advantage of the loophole before it's closed for good.
Some Windows users have lingered on older versions of the platform simply because they prefer them, but Windows 7 and 8 are no longer being updated. If you can upgrade, you should. Although, you might find Windows 11 out of reach (unless you do some tinkering). Microsoft opted to make the hardware requirements for Windows 11 much more stringent, so it's unlikely that computers from the 7/8 era will be compatible. Not only do PCs need a recent CPU for Windows 11, they must have a TPM 2.0 module and secure boot, features that were generally not available in systems from more than a decade ago.