Microsoft warned us last month that our favorite Windows upgrade loophole was over, but now it’s official: The activation servers no longer let you use Windows 7 or 8 license keys to activate Windows 10 or 11. (Cue “Taps.”)
This change was confirmed this week by The Verge, which had earlier discovered that Microsoft didn’t immediately block Windows 7 and 8 keys after the company’s September 20 announcement.
The death of the free upgrade was a long time coming, of course—Microsoft’s offer officially ended back in 2016, just one year after the launch of Windows 10. No one expected that seven years later, you could still use the license key from a dusty 2010 PC for your shiny-new 2023 gaming build. Time will tell if Windows 10 licenses will continue this tradition. (Here’s to hoping.)
At the moment, the only remaining free upgrade is the one from Windows 10 to Windows 11, provided your hardware passes the test. (Though that can be fudged.) So if you’re on an old PC running Windows 7 or 8, you’ll have to find another way to upgrade cheaply, unless you activated Windows 10 before the cutoff and then rolled back. Then the free upgrade still holds.
As sad as this final death knell is, things were good while they lasted. Rest in peace, you wonderful loophole.