3 ways you can still get Windows 10 for free

There are a few tricks you can use to still get a free Windows 10 upgrade, but they're all pretty shady.

Well, here we are. The free upgrade period for Windows 10 ended on July 29. You had a year to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, but you put it off, and put it off, and now it’s too late.

Or is it? There is no longer an official way to upgrade to Windows 10 without paying a cent. But there are a few loopholes making the rounds on the Internet that apparently allow you to still get a free upgrade.

We haven’t tested all of these methods to see if they’ll work. But we can tell you that all of these methods require you to check your morals at the door.

Assistive upgrade

Although the Windows 10 upgrade period is over, Microsoft is still allowing people to upgrade for free if they use assistive technologies, such as braille peripherals or a mouse requiring less dexterity. Microsoft announced in May that it would waive the July deadline for these users for an undetermined period of time.

The Verge’s Tom Warren reports that all you have to do is download an EXE file from Microsoft’s accessibility site, run it, and you can upgrade “without any checks.”

win10 assistive tech

We haven’t tested this workaround and can’t vouch for it. Microsoft told ZDNet’s Ed Bott that the assistive technologies loophole was not “intended to be a workaround for people who don’t use assistive technology and who missed the deadline for the free offer.”

Reset your clock

People on Reddit report that the classic trick for anything date related works with the Windows 10 upgrade. Apparently you can change your system clock back to July 28 and the upgrade will still work.

This is surprising considering Windows 10 upgrades activate via digital entitlements. That requires interaction with Microsoft’s servers, which you’d think would be checking for this sort of thing. If this loophole actually works—we also didn’t test this one—it seems unlikely to work for much longer.

Don’t be genuine

This last one is a little dicey and could change at any time, but you don’t have to activate Windows 10 with a product key to actually keep using it. In fact, the only real restriction Microsoft seems to put on unactivated versions of Windows 10 is the inability to change your PC’s personalization settings.

While we wouldn’t encourage you to upgrade to Windows 10 and then use it without a license, this method does seem to work. Microsoft could shut the door at any moment, however, and make Windows 10 harder to use without paying. The good news is you can go genuine and activate your version of Windows 10 with a quick trip to the Windows Store.

For a detailed explanation of how Windows 10’s “non-genuine mode” works check out How To Geek’s tutorial.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
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