[This article has been significantly revised and updated since its original publication. in January 2016]
Microsoft's ambitious plan to get Windows 10 running on a billion devices
within the next few years depends to a large extent on the success of its free upgrade offer.
When the company first announced the terms of that offer in May 2015, it literally included an asterisk and fine print
. Those terms have changed slightly over the intervening months, but one element has remained constant: The offer is good for one year after the availability of Windows 10.
Here's the actual wording of the offer, as it appears today
Get the best Windows experience. Ever.
Ready for Windows 10? Qualified Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 devices can upgrade for free. Offer ends July 29, 2016.
The text that appears in the fine print at the bottom of that page has changed slightly over the past year. Here's how it now reads (emphasis added):
The fine print on the Windows 10 upgrade offer, as of June 2016.
Here's the tl;dr version if you don't want to keep reading:
1. The free upgrade offer ends on July 29 and will not be extended.
2. Any upgrades completed before that date will be valid for as long as the device lasts.
3. There is a possibility that Microsoft will introduce some new upgrade offers after July 29, but don't count on it.
In fact, Microsoft's real goal with this upgrade offer isn't just to get its installed Windows 10 base to a billion. The long-term goal is to help close the books on Windows 7 in an orderly fashion before its extended support commitment ends on January 14, 2020