As cybercriminals target Windows 7 users with a convincing password-stealing scam disguised as a free upgrade, here’s how to safely update to Windows 10 without cost in 2020.
As of September 2020, Windows 10 commanded a 57% desktop operating system market share. That should come as no great surprise to anyone. More surprising, given that all Microsoft support, including security updates, officially ended on January 14, 2020, is the userbase Windows 7 retains. According to the latest data, Windows 7 remains a hugely popular operating system with a 25% market share. That puts it way ahead of Mac OS X 10.15, which only commands a 3.8% share, and Windows 8.1 on 3.1%.
I’ve mentioned before that, as someone with a particular interest in the cybersecurity industry, this worries me considerably. I’m not alone in having security concerns about the stubborn clinging on to Windows 7: the FBI recently warned users that the OS was becoming more vulnerable to exploitation and advised upgrading to Windows 10. This followed a warning from the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) earlier in the year, not to use Windows 7 in relation to email or online banking services.
Cybercriminals continue to leverage both the Windows 7 end of life status with the advice to upgrade to Windows 10, as evidenced in this password-stealing campaign as described by Cofense. The campaign is aimed at business users as it centers around an upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 being scheduled for “today” and is reasonably persuasive in construction as it pretends to be from IT support.
Anyone who does get fooled would first get taken to a genuine Microsoft page that confirms the end of life status of Windows 7 before then getting hit with a far from real Outlook login supposedly to ensure the update process succeeds.
Such ongoing credential-stealing scams are unlikely to be limited only to business users, given the size of the Windows 7 user base and the cost of upgrading to Windows 10. Throw in the current work from home situation many of us find ourselves in, and the criminal opportunity broadens.
The Microsoft promotional offer that gave Windows 7 users a free upgrade path to Windows 10 officially expired on July 29, 2016. With a Windows 10 Home license now starting from $139 in the U.S. (Â£119 in the U.K.) and rising to at least $199 or Â£219 depending on which side of the pond you are for a Windows 10 Pro license, many Windows 7 users are naturally going to be keen to see if money can be saved.
The ironic thing is that it is actually still possible to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, it would seem.
Although the official Microsoft free upgrade path was meant to have ended four years back, that doesn’t actually seem to be the case. Users are still currently reporting that anyone with a genuine licensed copy of Windows 7 can get that Windows 10 upgrade at no cost.
Which doesn’t mean it will go on working forever, or that I can guarantee it will work for you: following this route to Windows 10 is, therefore, done entirely at your own risk!
Here’s how those who have reported success in making the free upgrade have done so.
Head for the Microsoft software download page and follow the ‘media creation tool’ instructions for an upgrade. Providing you have a genuine Windows 7 product key, one that is associated with the machine you want to upgrade and currently activated, there shouldn’t be any requirement to enter a key during the process itself.
However, I would advise making a backup before attempting the upgrade just as I would before any operating system upgrade, to be honest. If you do run into any problems, there are some useful troubleshooting tips in this guide.
I’m a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT
I’m a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at [email protected] if you have a story to reveal or research to share.
Windows 7, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Corporation
World news – US – This Windows 7 âUpgradeâ Steals PasswordsâHow To Really Get Windows 10 For Free