Closure of Windows 10 upgrade path still catching users by surprise

That Windows 7 license is little more than a digital paperweight now

Microsoft's decision to close pathways allowing Windows 7 and 8 users to upgrade to Windows 10 is still catching people out, months after the company took action.

Do you remember 2015, when Windows 10 first burst onto the scene? Microsoft was very, very keen that users on previous versions of Windows upgraded to its latest and greatest. It nudged them toward its brave new world, and many customers took advantage of the offer.

This included one Register reader, who upgraded a copy of Windows 7 to Windows 10 in 2015.

All went well until June 2023, when our reader suffered a hard drive failure. It wasn't a problem – a fresh copy of Windows 10 was still a straightforward download, and the original Windows 7 activation key could still be used. Our reader did not have a Microsoft account, preferring to keep things local, so there was no key association. But that Windows 7 key was still OK, right?

Moving on to September 2023, and Microsoft finally blocked off the Windows 7 and 8 upgrade path, rendering activation keys for those operating systems verboten. It followed this up with an update that left several users experiencing issues after using their activation keys before the company pulled down the shutters.

The problem, it appears, has not gone away. Our reader, tired of their operating system constantly whining about being incompatible with Windows 11, decided to activate secure boot earlier this year, which appeared to trigger something deep within Windows 10.

Microsoft wants users to move to Windows 11, despite many of those customers continuing to stick with previous versions as of January 2024.

The problems began after the offer to upgrade to Windows 11 was declined. The event log was soon festooned with license and activation errors. Windows 10 began nagging for an activation key and, of course, that Windows 7 key would no longer work.

However, because our reader runs with a local account, there was no Microsoft account to helpfully record the earlier Windows 10 activation.

They said: "Spoke to Microsoft tech support, and that was of no use – sounded like the guy was trying to get me to purchase a digital license."

It all seems a bit unfair, particularly considering that Windows patches will be choked off without activation. We spoke to Microsoft about the situation but were directed to a confirmation that the Windows 7 and 8 upgrade path had been closed and a suggestion to call the Windows giant's support lines.

A spokesperson said: "We have no additional information to share beyond what has already been communicated. Customers experiencing technical difficulties should contact Microsoft customer support directly for assistance." ®

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