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While Microsoft indicated that it would be stopping the free upgrade for assistive tech users to Windows 10 last year, the update continued past the deadline, leading to some confusion about the situation.
Likely in response to coverage around the update extension, Microsoft has issued a clarification on its page, spelling out when the upgrade offer will be expiring.
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 January 16, 2018.
With the free Windows 10 Update having expired over a year ago, Microsoft’s olive branch to users of assistive technologies is heartening, especially as the firm has worked to improve support in Windows 10 both in user-facing tools like narrator, developer tools and built in apps.
Here are some improvements of the many Microsoft highlights as changes to its built-in apps over time
- Microsoft Edge – In a series of blog posts, the Microsoft Edge team has been providing detailed updates on their accessibility progress. For example, the team has already shared how work to support modern web accessibility standards is helping developers more easily build accessible sites. And with the introduction of Microsoft Edge’s new accessibility architecture, we are working to make Edge a more inclusive and reliable experience for everyone. The team has also been working closely with the most popular third-party assistive technology vendors to guide them through the transition to this new platform. In addition to the work the team has already shared, we are also excited for you to try the improvements to the end user accessibility experience of the Microsoft Edge app and PDF reader. These include broad support for tagged PDF files, and a wide range of improvements to common daily browsing features such as address bar, tabs, windows, and favourites.
- Mail – Since the initial release of Windows 10 last summer, there have been many improvements to the accessibility of the Mail app. The Mail team described many of these updates in a blog last February and has since that time continued to make progress on things like improving the account setup experience when using a screen reader.
- Cortana – You can more reliably operate search and Cortana with the keyboard, including things like navigating using arrow keys and tab order. There are also Improvements to high contrast that make the Cortana UI more legible in all contrast modes. The team has also made a number of general fixes that improve the experience with Cortana when using accessibility tools such as Windows Speech Recognition, Narrator and other screen-readers.
- Groove – The Groove team has delivered a number of key updates for low vision users like better support for high DPI scaling and better high contrast support, including better colour combinations and the boxing of text when appearing on top of album art. In addition, the team has done work to make the app a better experience when using a screen reader by adding a number of new shortcut keys as well as fixing a number of bugs when using Narrator.
To access the upgrade offer extension, Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users can navigate to this page for more information.