Re: Microsoft should buy some good will and now is the time to do it.
Not free maybe, but how about say $39 for for a limited time for those upgrading from XP to Windows 7. Many with XP did not take advantage of the $39 Windows 8 upgrade deal because there was some confusion as to whether you could even install it on a motherboard that didn't support UEFI. If they could offer Windows 8 for $39, surely they wouldn't be losing much by providing Windows 7 for the same price.
Don't forget that Vista was received badly, perhaps even worse than Windows 8, so people had little incentive to upgrade to it. Later on when Windows 7 came out, people were by then just comfortable with XP and stuck with it, seeing little benefit in upgrading. But now that XP has reached end of life, people DO have valid, imperative reasons to upgrade.
Either that, or go out and buy a new box with Windows 7, throw a flavor of Linux on the old box, and wait and see if Microsoft will throw out a "deal" for Windows 9 in 15 months.
I just hate to see all these millions of XP boxes end up in landfills simply because people didn't perceive them as being worth upgrading, hence making that upgrade "cheap" might allow them to be used for several more years.