Windows 10 still has problems but Windows 7 is about to hit the scrap heap (and Windows 8 is a pointless sideways move). As such, millions of users must soon jump to Windows 10 for the safety of their data and Microsoft charges $139 for the standard edition. But what if I told you there’s a legal way you can still upgrade for free?
01/14 Update: Windows 7 has today reached end of life meaning it will no longer receive security updates and it is no longer a safe platform to store your data. For those looking to migrate, I have retested this Windows 10 free upgrade method and it still works.
Yes, this is no joke. Despite Microsoft ending its free Windows 10 upgrade offer to all users on July 30, 2016, the company has (in my opinion, knowingly) left open a loophole. There’s just one snag: you will need a legal copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8 to do this.
Tip: if you don’t have one, you can buy a legal copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8 at third part retailers for a fraction of the cost of a Windows 10 licence. Home licences update to Windows 10 Home, Pro licences update to Windows 10 Pro, so choose carefully.
With that caveat out the way, here’s how you get your Windows 10 free upgrade:
- Click on the Windows 10 download page link here
- Click ‘Download Tool now‘ – this downloads the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.
- When finished, open the download and accept the license terms
- Choose: ‘Upgrade this PC now‘ then click ‘Next’
- Choose ‘Keep personal files and apps’
- Click ‘Install’ (note this takes some time and involves multiple restarts)
- Once installed, open: Settings > Windows Update > Activation to activate your Windows 10 digital license…
- OR enter your (genuine) Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 product key if you haven’t previously activated your old version of Windows
If you’d like to check your licence has successfully been activated afterwards, open: Settings > Update & Security > Activation.
Note: a Windows 10 licence is tied to your hardware. As such, if you need to format your computer for any reason Windows 10 will reactivate automatically.
Tip: if you change multiple components in your PC as part of a device upgrade, Windows 10 may mistakenly think you’ve bought a new PC and refuse to register the licence automatically. Thankfully, Microsoft has a simple process you can follow if that happens.