At the time when Windows 10 was launched in 2015, the upgrade was free and simple – you just had to click on the “Get Windows 10” button basically. It’s not like that anymore.
The support of Windows 7 officially ended on January 14 this year. So you can’t access security updates, technical support, or bug-squashing anymore. This means that Windows 7 is unsafe to use now, making it essential to switch to Windows 10. (A similar thing is likely to happen to Windows 8 soon).
Sadly, the free upgrade period officially came to an end in 2016. Another way of getting Windows 10 for free with Assistive Technologies is unavailable since December 2017. But don’t worry, there are other methods to get Windows 10 for free, you’ll find them right here.
Keys and licenses
A valid product key or a digital license is required to upgrade. Is there a difference between them? A product key is given to you when you buy an operating system from a retailer, including Microsoft. It can be printed and put to the packaging, emailed to the buyer, or saved in the cloud.
A digital license joins an installed Windows platform and a key embedded in systems from Dell, HP, Acer, etc. In the past, those OEMs printed product keys were put into the product packaging. This led to hackers finding ways to use one key on multiple PCs.
Because of this, Microsoft and OEMs introduced digital licenses.
If you bought an older version properly, Microsoft’s Windows 10 activation servers are going to accept Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 keys.
But if you can’t find the key, try signing in to your Microsoft account. From there, check past downloads, maybe your product key is there.
If this fails, download Windows 10 and complete a clean install. It will later take the legitimate Windows 8/8.1 license key from the prebuilt system’s motherboard.
1. Get the Media Creation tool
Even though the free update promotion officially ended in 2016, Microsoft keeps this option continuing for all Windows PC owners to run the latest version. Again, a valid digital license or product key is necessary to get a free upgrade, otherwise, you’ll have to pay for a Windows 10 Home product key.
Visit the official Microsoft’s Download Windows 10 web page. Find the Create Windows 10 Installation Media section and you’ll see the blue Download Tool Now button. Click on the button, the download won’t take a long time.
While it’s being downloaded, disconnect any apps to reduce the chance of errors.
2. Launch the tool
Once the Media Creation Tool is downloaded, open it, and accept Microsoft’s terms.
Then, you’ll have 2 options: to upgrade the current PC or to create installation media (it’s necessary to upgrade another PC or complete a clean install on the current PC). For both cases, you’ll need much space, approximately 4GB, at the least.
Then choose the option that says Upgrade This PC Now and follow the prompts. The Media Creation tool is going to scan your computer to examine whether it’s compatible. It may show a few problematic programs. If it happens, uninstall the programs.
Once all the issues are fixed, the tool will port over all the data it can. Remember, that there’s a huge gap between Windows 7 and Windows 10 when it comes to the software. Not all the files and apps are going to be compatible with Windows 10, so some might stop working. That’s why it’s extremely important to back the important things up.
3. Finish installation
During the time when the installer works, your computer will restart several times. One of the parts of this process will be pulling your current digital license from the hardware in the time of the setup, so you don’t need to activate it. If you have a valid product key, you can enter it at this stage or a bit later. To do so, go to Settings => Update & Security => Activation.
Note that it’s not going to work for Windows XP and Windows Vista, because those two versions of Windows don’t qualify for the free Windows 10 upgrade.
You’ll get the same flavor of Windows that was first shipped with your PC (Home, Pro, Education, or Enterprise). If you want to use Windows 10 Pro and not the Home update, you need to buy a new product key.
As you can see, the process might have seemed difficult and scary, but actually it’s quite simple. Now you can enjoy brand-new Windows 10 on your PC!