Reports of the demise of free upgrades to Windows 10 have been somewhat exaggerated. Those users who missed the July 29 cut-off can still make the leap to the future for free, as long as they're willing to claim they use technologies made for those with disabilities.
All those dilly-dalliers need to do is open this Microsoft web page (opens in new tab) for Windows 10's assistive technologies and click the Upgrade Now button that sits right above the statement "Yes, I use assistive technologies and I am ready for my free upgrade to Windows 10."
Aside from agreeing to this statement, the website does not ask users for any proof of their handicaps or needs. Nor does it provide any deadline by which you need to perform the upgrade.
This may sound like the digital equivalent of parking in the handicapped zone when you have full mobility, but it's arguably a harmless white lie that gives latecomers one more chance to upgrade. Extending the Windows 10 upgrade deadline to users who may need it is a noble goal, but we wonder why Microsoft created this loophole.
As we've said recently, Microsoft is foolish to end the free upgrade program, as paid operating-system updates are as much a thing of the past as floppy disks and 56k modems. This deadline extension for a specific group of users, without verification that a user actually qualifies, allows more users to upgrade without Microsoft contradicting its original statement or abolishing its deadline altogether.
The unstated policy is reminiscent of the company's formerly lax attitude regarding its discounted academic versions of Microsoft Office, which users could get without verifying that they were indeed students or teachers. (Office 365 University is now free, and Microsoft makes you provide a valid academic email address, although many college alumni may be able to use their old campus email addresses.)
In the page's FAQ, Microsoft notes that it has yet to determine when it will close this extended download window. It does, however, say that it will warn users of that decision, stating "We will make a public announcement prior to ending the offer."
The upgrades to assistive technologies featured in Windows 10 Anniversary Edition, available tomorrow (Aug. 2), include a more fully-featured Narrator mode for screen reading, Edge adopting modern web accessibility standards and legibility improvements to Cortana and music app Groove.
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