Is Microsoft's Free Windows 11 Upgrade Offer Coming to an End?

Microsoft may be alluding to the end of the free Windows 11 upgrade for Windows 10 users.

Microsoft has had a free upgrade offer for Windows 10 users in place since the product's "general availability" commercial release on Oct. 4. The free OS upgrade offer, in theory, is only offered to current Windows 10 machines running compatible hardware, including CPUs not older than three years and having a Trusted Platform Module 2.0 chip.

Microsoft uses its "telemetry" findings to exclude this upgrade offer to Windows 10 machines that don't meet Windows 11's requirements.

Free Upgrade Offer Ending
The notion that Microsoft may end the free upgrade offer comes from Panos Panay, chief product officer for Windows and devices. He obliquely suggested that the free upgrade offer could end before mid-2022, and possibly it just could end for Home edition Windows 10 users.

"Today, we're excited to share that the upgrade offer to Windows 11 is beginning to enter its final phase of availability putting us ahead of our initial plan of mid-20221," Panay stated.

Panay's statement above contained a footnote indicating that his statement pertains to "devices that have a Microsoft Account (an MSA for Home edition) and have eligible releases and compatibility."

Possibly, it means Microsoft is considering shortening the free upgrade offer for Windows 10 Home users, but the statement is somewhat ambiguous.

Use of a Microsoft Account is listed as a requirement for Windows 11 Home edition users. It's easy to find advice on performing clean installs of the Windows 11 Home edition that use a local account instead of a Microsoft account, but these attempts ultimately may not work. For instance, this July PCWorld article explained that Microsoft accounts are essentially "unavoidable" for Home edition users upgrading to Windows 11, citing comments from unnamed people "close to Microsoft."

Free Upgrade Offer Good Through Oct. 5
Panay's Wednesday statement conflicts with a published Microsoft FAQ document that specifically addressed the question of when the free upgrade to Windows 11 will end. Here's the answer, per the FAQ:

The free upgrade offer does not have a specific end date for eligible systems. However, Microsoft reserves the right to eventually end support for the free offer. This end date will be no sooner than October 5, 2022.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that the above statement represents Microsoft's plans for the free Windows 11 upgrade offer.

Windows 11 Stats Not Broken Out
Panay also suggested that Window 11 has taken off in terms of Windows popularity. The Windows 11 upgrade was adopted at "twice the rate we saw for Windows 10," he noted. Windows 11's quality scores and satisfaction measures were the "highest" of all shipped Windows products. Moreover, Windows 11 use increased Microsoft Store traffic at a "3X" rate, Panay indicated.

These notions were echoed by Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella in the company's fiscal-year 2022 Q2 earnings report, released on Tuesday, per a transcript:

"There are now more than 1.4 billion monthly active devices running Windows 10 or Windows 11, and they're a powerful on-ramp for both our first-party and third-party services," Nadella said.

Although Nadella didn't specifically break out the Windows 11 stats in that statement, he had said in a fiscal-year 2021 Q3 transcript in April that "Windows 10 now has more than 1.3 billion monthly active devices."

In this week's earning report, Nadella suggested that Microsoft was "delighted by the response to Windows 11," given its "usage intensity" and "higher quality."

Microsoft's fiscal-year 2022 Q2 report cited a 25% revenue increase based on "Windows OEM revenue" (meaning purchases by Microsoft's hardware partners). In addition, Microsoft cited a 13% increase for the quarter for its "Windows Commercial products and cloud services revenue."

All told, Microsoft had a positive fiscal-year Q2, reporting $51.7 billion in total revenue, which represented a 20% increase over the prior fiscal year's Q2 period.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.