Microsoft's free Windows 10 upgrade offer is now over. This should mean an end to those annoying uprade notifications. Or does it? We suspect the nagging won't cease one bit: Microsoft will simply want to you pay to upgrade to Windows 10 - Windows 10 home costs £99.99 and Windows 10 Pro costs £189.99.
Fear not, though as there are a few ways you can disable the upgrade and stay on Windows 7 or 8 forever. We won't go into all the reasons why you might not want to upgrade: those are covered in our Should I upgrade to Windows 10? feature.
Update 4 November 2016: Do note that Windows 10 is now the only option for new PCs, as Microsoft has stopped OEM sales of Windows 7 Pro and Windows 8.1 to PC makers on 31 October. OEMs can still sell any licences they may have in stock, but once they run out it will be Windows 10 or Windows 10. Retail sales of Windows 7 ceased years back, and until now the only way to get a new PC with Windows 7 was from a manufacturer such as HP and Dell. Now, you won't find any PCs or laptops which offer a choice of Windows version when you first turn them on.
How to stay on Windows 7 & 8 forever: Never10
As you'll see below, there are a few other methods which have all worked for a period of time, but some users have said they no longer work. Never10 is the latest tool we're aware of that can disable the upgrade. It's free, and doesn't require installation. You simply click a button and the necessary changes are made to your PC. There's also a button which can remove any downloaded Windows 10 installation files which could be hogging up to 6.5GB of your hard drive space.
You can also use it to re-enable the upgrade should you ever change your mind, so it's not really "never". But then again, you're not actually going to run Windows 7 or 8 "forever", either.
Do let us know in the comments below if Never10 works for you.
How to stay on Windows 7 & 8 forever: GWX Control Panel
Never10 should work, but in case it doesn't you can try GWX Control Panel (which doesn't require installation). This does much the same thing, but has a few more buttons to click.
Windows 7 and 8 are still supported by Microsoft
Recently there has been a lot of confusion about when Windows 7 will cease to be supported. The table below clears this up: Windows 7 will be supported until 2020, and Windows 8 until 2023. You must have the specified updates or service packs installed, though. On Microsoft's Windows Lifecycle page, you'll also find the updated table showing that Windows 7 and 8.1 sales (to OEMs) ceased on 31 October 2016.
Podcast discussion: Free upgrade ends for Windows 10
Below is old information from when we originally wrote the article:
You should be careful to read the information in any notification you see to ensure you're not agreeing to anything you don't want. If you do see the pop-up below, you have to find the tiny link for rescheduling or cancelling the upgrade. The exact wording is "Click here to change upgrade schedule or cancel upgrade schedule", and the link is only on the word 'here'.
At the end of May 2016, Microsoft reportedly backtracked on this underhand behaviour, and told the BBC: "We've added another notification that confirms the time of the scheduled upgrade and provides the customer an additional opportunity for cancelling or rescheduling the upgrade."
In June 2016, a Seattle woman successfully sued Microsoft $10,000 for disruption caused by forcibly installing Windows 10 on her machine, the company has now said it will look again at making the process less confusing. Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Windows and Devices Group, said: "The new experience has clearer options to upgrade now, choose a time, or decline the free offer." Since this lawsuit, a few others have cropped up, for the same reason.
How to stay on Windows 7 & 8 forever: GWX.exe and the KB3035583 update
Here's a bit of background information which may help in your quest to stop the notifications.
The Windows Update responsible for the white logo in your Notification area (shown above) is KB3035583 and you can check if your PC has installed this by heading to Control Panel and then Windows Update. Then click on 'View Update History'. From here you'll see a new window pop-up and you'll be able to see a link to 'Installed Updates'. Click on this and it will open another tab with all your previously installed updates. Give the window a few minutes to load and at the top right-hand corner search for KB3035583:
Right click on the update and select 'Uninstall' and follow the on-screen prompts until you are asked to 'Restart Now'.
Upon restarting the PC, go back into Windows Update and 'Check for updates', you should now be able to see KB3035583 as an optional or recommended/important update. Right click on the update and 'Hide update'. Sometimes you might see 'Upgrade to Windows 10, version 1511, 10586' (this was the latest build in February 2016), alternatively it might just appear as 'Upgrade to Windows 10', if you see these updates too, right click on them too and hide them.
Finally, restart the PC once more and the icon should have vanished.