Upgrade To Windows 10 Free

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Editors Note: Windows 11 arrived in 2021.

See our Windows 11 system requirements guide to see if your laptop or desktop is compatible. Windows 11 is a free upgrade, much like Windows 10. Microsoft shut down its free Windows 10 upgrade program in November 2017. If you didn’t get your free version of its best operating system to date, you were pretty much out of luck.

Or, so we thought. It turns out, you can still upgrade to Windows 10 without spending a dime. It turns out there are several methods of upgrading from older versions of Windows (Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1) to Windows 10 Home without paying the $139 fee for the latest operating system.

Keep in mind that this workaround won't necessarily work all the time. If it doesn't, you'll need to pay the Windows 10 Home license fee or, if your system is older than 4 years, you might want to buy a new one (all new PCs run on some version of Windows 10). You will certainly need to upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8 if you are still running those legacy operating systems as Microsoft no longer supports them.

Ensure you're using a genuine copy of Windows 7 or later.

Anything older will not work (please, if possible, buy a new system if you're using Window XP or Vista). If you're using Windows 7, write down the activation key (you may need this later). A free tool like NirSoft’s ProduKey will help you find it. This is a good stop to pause and back up anything you’d like to save on your current PC before continuing.

Follow our Windows 10 backup instructions on how to do so. Visit the Windows 10 download page (opens in new tab). This is an official Microsoft page that may allow you to upgrade for free. Once you're there, open the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool (press "download tool now") and choose "Upgrade this PC now."

Accept the terms and choose the upgrade options that lets you keep your files and preferences. Again, having a backup ready at this point is very important so save everything to the cloud or to an SSD or USB.

Reboot your computer and connect it to the internet. Open Settings and choose "Update & Security" and click "Activation." From here, you can see if the Windows 10 upgrade worked. If not, press an "Activate" button (if there is one); this will create a digital Windows 10 product key.

Try using your Windows 7 or Windows 8 license key. Now that you know how to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, be sure to check out our other Windows 10 tutorials below, including tips on how to uninstall programs on Windows 10, how to find your MAC address in Windows 10, how to create a new folder in Windows 10 and more.

(opens in new tab). We check over 250 million products every day for the best prices. Anyone still using an older version of Windows should figure out how to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. That’s especially because the Home Edition still typically goes for $139/£119/AU$225, which is not cheap.

Getting that Windows 10 free upgrade may not seem within reach, now that Microsoft has let expire its free upgrade offer to Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. Yet, the actual tools for it are still available and fairly accessible. And, anyone wanting to make the leap can do so easily. Why are you still able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free in 2021?

It makes sense when you think about it. Microsoft probably doesn’t want users to switch to a free operating system like Linux or, more likely, stick with an older, unsupported version that leaves users exposed to viruses and hacks.

Is Windows 10 free?

So, read on and let us help you upgrade to Windows 10 for free, whether you’re coming from Windows 7 or Windows 8, with this straightforward guide. If you’re getting ready for Windows 11, which is on the horizon, don’t worry as that is looking to be a free upgrade as well.

Windows 10 has never really been free. In fact, with Windows 10 Home costing $139 and Windows 10 Pro a hefty $200, getting Windows 10 installed on your computer or laptop is going to cost you quite a bit of money.

There was a period of time when Microsoft offered free upgrades to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users, but that time has long expired.

  • Still, a loophole remains that allows you to get Windows 10 for nothing. And, we suspect that Microsoft is keeping it open as it’s in the company’s best interest to get as many people on Windows 10 as possible.
  • We’re sure that it’s keen to get people to move on from the unsupported, older, operating system to the new one.
  • Basically, the steps for upgrading to Windows 10 for free from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are the same as when Microsoft was officially offering the update. To install the latest version of Windows 10, you’ll need to have the following:.
  • CPU: 1GHz or faster supported processor (Here is a list of supported CPUs). RAM: 1GB for Windows 10 32-bit or 2GB for Windows 10 64-bit. Storage: 32GB of space or more. GPU: DirectX 9 compatible or later with WDDM 1.0 drriver. Display: 800x600 resolution or greater.
  • Internet connection: Some versions of Windows 10 require an internet connection during setup. If your Windows 7 machine doesn't meet these specifications you won’t be able to run Windows 10 – and even if your machine just meets the requirements, Windows 10 won’t run that well.
  • We’d recommend at least a 2GHz dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM (8GB ideally) and a 160GB hard drive for Windows 10 to run well. Check out our pick of the best laptops for inspiration and buying advice on getting a new machine, whatever your budget.

Next, download and install the Windows Media Creation Tool and select “Download tool now” under the section titled “Create Windows 10 installation media.”. Run the Windows Media Creation Tool, and when you reach the “What do you want to do?” section, select “Upgrade this PC now,” and follow the remaining steps in the tool.

This will also give you the option of keeping your files and apps during the installation process. You can find more detailed instructions on this process here.). Enter in your Windows 7 (or Windows 8) licence key, and you should soon have a Windows 10 running – for free. Click on the ‘Activate’ button if required and your PC will be activated with a digital license after it establishes a secure connection to Microsoft servers.

If you’re unable to obtain the license, you can also enter your Windows 7 product key and manually activate the operating system. Also check out our guide on how to use Windows 10. Find out where to buy Windows 10 if you need a different package. Windows 7 is dead, but you don’t have to pay to upgrade to Windows 10. Microsoft has quietly continued the free upgrade offer for the last few years. You can still upgrade any PC with a genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8 license to Windows 10.

  • Assuming you’re using a Windows PC with a genuine and activated Windows 7 (or Windows 8) key, you can upgrade to Windows 10 in just a few clicks. Your PC will get a genuine, activated Windows 10 key—just like it worked during Windows 10’s first year when the free upgrade offer was officially being advertised. You can also upgrade a PC by doing a fresh install of Windows 10, even if it doesn’t have any operating system installed.
  • You just have to provide a valid Windows 7 (or Windows 8) key. There’s no guarantee this will work forever, but it still worked on January 14, 2020. Microsoft may one day pull the plug and cut off new upgrades. But, for now, you can still upgrade. And, after you do upgrade, your PC gets a valid Windows 10 key that will keep working—even if Microsoft stops allowing new upgrades in the future.

Update: Note that we can’t speak to the business licensing side of things here. If you have Windows 7 PCs in your business, Microsoft may not consider you compliant with the terms of its licensing agreement after using this method to upgrade your business PCs. We wouldn’t worry about it for home PCs, but organizations should likely contact their Microsoft licensing partner for more details.

RELATED:You Can Still Get Windows 10 for Free With a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 Key. Before you get started, we recommend you back up your files. The upgrade process shouldn’t erase your files unless you choose to erase them, but it’s always a good idea to have a current backup—especially when you’re performing a major operating system upgrade. We also encourage you to find your Windows 7 (or Windows 8) key, just in case you need it. This key may be printed on a sticker on your PC’s case or on your laptop.

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Is your license valid?

And now the big question: If you avail yourself of this upgrade to Windows 10, is the resulting license valid?

The entire "free upgrade" offer was always accompanied by language that was, to put it politely, a bit squishy. And the language around the end of that offer was similarly vague. For example, see the answers I've highlighted here on Microsoft's Windows 10 Upgrade FAQ:

That's very odd language. The free upgrade through the Get Windows 10 app ended on July 29, 2016. Likewise, the discussion of product keys says a key will be necessary "for this tool to work" (not true) but doesn't say a word about licensing.

And unlike the weaselly "Genuine Windows" label on older upgrades, the activation screens for a Windows 10 upgrade specifically confirm the existence of a "digital license."

How to upgrade to Windows 10 for free

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Anyway, the free upgrade offer was extended briefly, at least for people who use assistive technologies. The FAQ on a separate page even called it a "free upgrade offer extension" and pointedly noted that it was not limited to specific assistive technologies. (I regularly use the Magnifier utility in Windows, which is indisputably an assistive technology.)

Of course, I'm not a lawyer, and this column isn't legal advice. But I will say that I am personally confident in the activation status of any PC upgraded using the tool on that page during the eligibility period.

This extension was, I think, a very large nod and a wink, designed to make it easy for those who wanted a Windows 10 upgrade to still get it while placating the OEM partners who were none too happy about the year-long emphasis on upgrades rather than new PC sales.

Alas, I say "was," because the extension (which was itself extended) officially ended on Jan. 16, 2018. The page that formerly ran an Upgrade Assistant now returns an error message.

The big question now is whether Microsoft will ever turn off the code on its activation servers that dispenses digital licenses after an upgrade from an earlier Windows version. I've continued to test that scenario, and I can confirm, long after the end of support for Windows 7, that it still works.

I continue to hear from readers sharing their experiences. If you've used this technique on a PC, click my name at the top of this post and use the contact form to let me know how it went for you.

Note: This article was originally published in January 2017. It has been updated multiple times since then to reflect the most current information.

How to Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free


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