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Microsoft Warns Windows 10 Holdouts of Upgrade Deadline

Microsoft will terminate Windows 10's free upgrade offer on July 29, one year after its initial launch, the company confirmed this week.

This free upgrade offer is just available to qualified Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows 8.1 users. It's mostly for consumers. Windows Enterprise editions don't qualify under the terms of the offer.

After the July 29 date, the Windows 10 Home edition will cost $119, Microsoft's announcement indicated. The operating system is also sold as part of new machine purchases.

Update: The July 29 end date for the free Windows 10 upgrade offer "will not apply to customers using assistive technologies," Microsoft announced in a May 6 accessibility blog post, which promised details to come.

Also disappearing soon will be the Get Windows App icon, which appears on the system trays of end users. The Get Windows App, or GWX, originally wasn't supposed to be delivered to domain-joined machines, but Microsoft changed that policy. Later, it made the Windows 10 upgrade a "recommended update" under Windows Update scheme, which meant it might install, depending on PC settings.

Only IT shops that had configured Group Policy Objects and made some registry edits to block the GWX app from arriving were able to ward it off. Organizations that didn't follow Microsoft's exact steps likely got the GWX app in the form of white windows upgrade icons, which showed up in PC system trays. Many have considered the GWX app as being a form of "nagware," a typical low-grade tactic to urge software installations.

It turns out that the GWX app, now sitting in system trays worldwide, actually will go away sometime after Microsoft's July 29 free upgrade offer ends, according to a report. A Microsoft spokesperson told WinBeta that GWX is getting "disabled" after that date and it will be "eventually removed from PCs worldwide." The company is still ironing out the details, though.

Likely, Microsoft will remove GWX through its Windows Update process. It's not clear if it also will remove the unused Windows 10 bits that sit on many machines. Microsoft pushed down its Windows 10 bits (a 3GB download) even to machines that hadn't requested getting the free upgrade. The bits get saved in a hidden file folder called "$Windows-BT." Microsoft MVP Rod Trent recently suggested in a SuperSite for Windows article that these bits would have to be removed manually.

Microsoft's free Windows 10 update offer is part of a general corporate push to put the new OS on 1 billion devices. Originally, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had said Microsoft was targeting its fiscal-year 2018 to meet that 1 billion goal, which translates to around October 2017 in calendar-year time. However, in March, Terry Myerson, executive vice president for Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group, said Microsoft planned to reach its 1 billion devices goal "in the next few years." Possibly, that statement suggests a more relaxed timeline.

This week, Microsoft said that Windows 10 was now on "300 million active devices." That figure is up from "over 270 million active devices," as reported in March.

Microsoft's Windows 10 goal is aimed, in part, at shoring up the company's diminishing client OS market share. In the U.S. market, IDC reported that shipments of PCs decreased 5.8 percent in the first quarter of this year. Ironically, IDC said that the free Windows 10 upgrade offer had stalled some consumer purchases of new PCs.

The analyst and consulting firm also recently suggested that Apple was beating Microsoft in the tablet market. On the mobile side, Android and iOS have greatly cut into Microsoft's presence in the mobile operating systems market. Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft's successor to its Window Phone OS, got off to a late start, but it was finally released in March.

The accounting Microsoft uses to tally its overall 1 billion goal also include Windows 10 on Xbox game consoles, Surface Hub conference screens and HoloLens augmented reality devices.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.