MICROSOFT HAS announced it is to close the loophole which allows users still on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to upgrade free of charge.
Despite ending official free upgrading back in 2016, it has been possible to do so by a little-seen web page offering assistance to those with Assistive Technology needs, such as sight or hearing loss.
The company reasons that its latest updates such as Cortana voice control and eye-motion control via mixed-reality, should reduce the need for external packages, but this could leave Microsoft facing more criticism that it is excluding third-party vendors and once claimed "If you use Windows 8, you do not need to pay for antivirus software".
"If you use assistive technologies, you can upgrade to Windows 10 at no cost as Microsoft continues our efforts to improve the Windows 10 experience for people who use these technologies. Please take advantage of this offer before it expires on December 31, 2017.
"With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, we've taken a number of steps to improve the accessibility of Windows 10. To learn more, read our blog that details some of these improvements."
before getting a subtle dig in at the competition:
"Before you upgrade, please check with your assistive technology provider(s) to learn more about their software compatibility with Windows 10."
The deadline for upgrading this way, which Microsoft has kept as an open secret used by those both with and without special needs, is 31st December 2017. After that, you'll have to pay your 99 quid.
It's not the first time that Microsoft has been criticised for freezing out the competition with the argument that its own features are sufficient. Earlier this year, Eugene Kaspersky announced that he would be filing an anti-trust case against Microsoft because its Windows Defender anti-malware had been turning off third-party packages.
Eventually, Microsoft agreed to change tack and Kaspersky, who has quite enough on his plate right now, let's face it, backed down.
Whether the decision to "let them eat baked in" will sit equally well with disability rights advocates (not to mention third party software vendors) remains to be seen. µ
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