Microsoft to keep offering Windows 10 for free to customers using assistive technologies

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Microsoft has been working hard this week to remind everyone that the offer of a free upgrade to Windows 10 is not a long-term proposition. In fact, it ends on July 29, 2016, which is less than three months away. After that, most people who want to upgrade to Windows 10 will need to fork over some cool hard cash for the privilege.

However, Microsoft has a special place in its heart for customers who need the assistive technologies that are built into Windows 10. For those people, Microsoft is going to keep offering the free upgrade. Here’s the company’s message:

As you may have heard, the free Windows 10 upgrade offer for customers running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 is set to end on July 29, but we want to clarify that that deadline will *not* apply to customers who use assistive technologies. We are continuing to deliver on our previously-shared vision for accessibility for Windows 10 and we are committed to ensuring that users of assistive technologies have the opportunity to upgrade to Windows 10 for free as we do so.

Stay tuned for more details on how you can take advantage of the free offer. In the meantime, you can read more about our accessibility roadmap for Windows 10 on the Microsoft on the Issues blog.

Back in February, Microsoft outlined on the Microsoft blog exactly how Windows 10 will help people who need assistance:

Windows 10: In 2015, we launched Windows 10 across the globe with built-in Accessibility fundamentals but we know we have work to do to make Windows 10 a great experience for all users. Our goal in 2016 is to address this by:

  • Improve commonly used features and do a great job with showcase Windows experiences. We are working to ensure that everyone can easily access and use the Start menu, the lock screen, and settings as well as Cortana, Store, Music, Videos and more.
  • We’re also working hard on our new browser, Microsoft Edge. By the end of 2016, the browser will have improved browsing and reading experiences not just for those using our built-in assistive technologies, such as Narrator and Magnifier, but also for people who use other commercial assistive technology. On Feb. 3, we shared our priorities for 2016, including additional detail about the key areas that we think will have the biggest impact.
  • Windows 10 Mail will have improved screen-reader support for common email scenarios – already, we’ve made progress against these goals on Mail for PCs.
  • Work continues to improve our built-in assistive technology by increasing performance, reliability, compatibility and usability. These improvements translate to a faster Narrator, improved compatibility while using apps like Windows 10 Mail and Microsoft Word, better mapping of keyboard commands to user expectations and an increase in the number of supported languages.

Because those items and features offer real advantages to those who need them, Microsoft wants to be sure that Windows 10 is a viable option. Thus, keeping it as a free upgrade is as much a part of their efforts as the work they’re doing on the operating system itself.

That’s great news, and we’ll be sure to let you know when Microsoft implements a program to keep the upgrades going beyond July 29. Let us know in the comments what you think about Microsoft decision.