Windows 11 might be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.1

With just a week before its official announcement, leaks and questions about Microsoft's next operating system version have started flooding the Internet. In fact, a leaked Windows 11 build has already revealed what has changed and, perhaps more importantly, what has remained the same. Some users and customers will probably wonder if they will be able to upgrade to the shiny new Windows without paying a dime. It turns out that they might be able to do exactly that, provided they're not using Windows 8.

Microsoft has been pretty aggressive in pushing Windows 10 a few years back, resulting in both comical and embarrassing situations. Part of its strategy was to make Windows 10 available as a free upgrade to users of older Windows versions at least for a year or so. It seems that it will be using the same strategy for Windows 11 with a small caveat.

XDA discovered Windows 11 product configuration keys for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users. This practically means that those versions will be able to avail of a free upgrade to Windows 11 once the gates open. Interestingly, Windows 8 isn't on that list, implying that users will have to upgrade to Windows 8.1 first before upgrading to Windows 11.

Naturally, the update will also be free for Windows 10 users, especially since Windows 11 doesn't seem much of an upgrade anyway. Much of the changes leaked so far seem to revolve around appearances, with the Start Menu and Taskbar being the biggest behavioral changes. It won't be surprising if Windows 11 will even have a switch to go back to how Windows 10 looked and behave.

Windows 11 is pretty much looking like what Windows 10X would have been but without the underlying architectural shifts. It would have easily passed for another Windows 10 feature release, and we'll have to wait for Microsoft's formal announcement to see why it decided on a version number bump.