Microsoft’s controversial upgrade strategy for Windows 10 is finally coming to a complete end. After officially ending the free upgrade promotion on July 29th, the “Get Windows 10” app is being removed from the PCs of users who declined the upgrade offer.
A new update rolling out now via Windows Update to Windows 7 and 8.1 users “removes the Get Windows 10 app and other software related to the Windows 10 free upgrade offer that expired on July 29, 2016.”
An Offer You Can’t Refuse
Microsoft announced in 2015 that Windows 10 would be a limited time free upgrade for users with validly licensed copies of Windows 7 and Windows 8. To facilitate this process, Microsoft rolled out the “Get Windows 10” app as an optional update via Windows Update. The app notified Windows 7 and 8 users of their eligibility for Windows 10 and allowed them to reserve their free copy of the operating system. Later, once Windows 10 was publicly available, the user could use the app to initiate the upgrade process.
Over time, however, Microsoft made changes to the Get Windows 10 app, automatically installing it on user’s PCs and making it more intrusive for users who had yet to upgrade. At first, the app started downloading the multi-gigabyte Windows 10 installation files even before the user agreed to the upgrade, causing issues for those with limited Internet bandwidth caps. Eventually, users began reporting that their PCs were being upgraded to Windows 10 without their consent, causing major issues with software and hardware compatibility.
Many speculate that Microsoft’s increasingly aggressive stance was due to lower than expected adoption rates of Windows 10. While the company’s actions are difficult to defend, others suggest that Microsoft was trying to ensure that all eligible users received their free upgrade, as many would inevitably complain if they realized they would have to pay for Windows 10 after the one-year promotion.
Regardless of the motives, Microsoft’s handling of the Windows 10 upgrade process was heavily criticized by both users and governments alike, and has opened the company to legal liability in some instances.
The free one-year upgrade deal for Windows 10 officially expired on July 29, 2016, the first anniversary of the operating system’s public launch. To the frustration of users, businesses, and industry analysts alike, Microsoft wasn’t clear on exactly what would happen on July 30th.
It turns out that the Get Windows 10 app did indeed stop pestering users around that time, although already scheduled Windows 10 upgrades took place without issue. However, the Get Windows 10 app remained on user’s PCs, even if it wasn’t displaying pop-up notifications, and users were still able to upgrade to Windows 10 by performing a clean install and using a valid Windows 7 or Windows 8 product key to activate.
With this week’s latest update, it appears that the last vestiges of the Get Windows 10 app are finally being killed off. Users installing update KB3184143 should see all programs and files related to the Windows 10 upgrade removed from their PCs.
Activation on Demand
While it appears that the pestering, automatic upgrades forced upon Windows 7 and 8 users are now done for good, the future of the Windows 10 upgrade process isn’t entirely clear. Microsoft officially states that the free upgrade period lasted only a year — from July 29, 2015 to July 29, 2016 — but, as mentioned above, users as of today can still activate Windows 10 for free by entering a valid Windows 7 or Windows 8 license key.
For its part, a Microsoft spokesperson provided ZDNet‘s Mary Jo Foley with the following statement:
The Get Windows 10 (GWX) application was designed to make the Windows 10 upgrade process easy for existing Windows 7 and 8.1 customers for the one year free upgrade offer which ended July 29th. Beginning on September 20th, the Get Windows 10 app and all other updates related to the Windows 10 free upgrade offer will be removed from Windows 7 and 8.1 customer’s devices.
Beyond the statement above, the company has nothing more to share.
So, in summary, Windows 7 and 8 users who didn’t want to upgrade to Windows 10 should now be free from Microsoft’s pestering. But those who do want to upgrade, at least without taking advantage of a morally questionable loophole, seem to still be able to activate via their Windows 7 and 8 product keys.
We have no idea how long Microsoft will allow activation via Windows 7 and 8 product keys, but this approach is a far better way to encourage Windows 10 adoption without drawing the ire of users and governments.
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