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You can no longer upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 7 or 8 for free

Published Oct 12th, 2023 7:35PM EDT
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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If you’ve been holding out on upgrading to Windows 11 from Windows 7 or 8, you’ve just lost your free window as Microsoft has finally pulled the plug on the years-long deal that let Windows 7 and 8 users upgrade to the latest version of its operating system for free.

The deal, which has been in effect for several years now, originally let users upgrade to Windows 10 and then upgrade to Windows 11 afterward, all for absolutely free. Last month, though, Microsoft announced that it would end the pipeline that let users move freely from Windows 7 to Windows 11.

The Verge has now confirmed this change and reported that Windows 7 keys no longer worked to activate the product. The users could install it but could not activate it completely, locking them out of vital Windows features in the process. 

Microsoft Defender on Windows 11
Microsoft Defender on Windows 11. Image source: Microsoft

This pipeline has been in effect since 2015 when Windows 10 was released. When Microsoft dropped Windows 11 in 2021, it also extended the option to upgrade freely to Windows 7 and 8 users. Microsoft even extended the offer to users who had pirated Windows 7, allowing them to upgrade to an authentic version of the operating system.

Now, after eight total years of offering that upgrade pipeline, Microsoft has finally called it quits. It’s honestly surprising that it lasted as long as it did, to be honest, as Microsoft originally only planned the free upgrade period to last for one year. But it quickly extended to two, and then three, thanks to some loopholes that users were able to take advantage of.

Loopholes aside, the option to upgrade to Windows 11 freely from Windows 7 and 8 is now completely gone. If you want to add the latest Microsoft operating system to your Windows PC, you’ll need to purchase a license the old-fashioned way. Windows 10 users can still upgrade to Windows 11 for free.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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