Yes, you can still upgrade for free
Officially, no. Anecdotally … maybe.
There are reports of being able to upgrade existing Windows 7 and Windows 8 installations without needing to purchase a new Windows 10 license. With Windows 7 end of support impending, it might be time to consider trying it.
I’ll walk you through the steps, in case they’ll work for you.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
If you have a working, installed, and activated copy of Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, you still can upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Backup first, then visit the Windows 10 Download page, click on Download tool now, run the downloaded Windows 10 setup tool and follow its instructions. When prompted, select Upgrade this PC now.
Even if this wasn’t an unofficial scenario, I’d strongly recommend you take a complete image backup of your computer before starting. That way, if anything goes wrong, if the activation doesn’t take, or if you just don’t like the results, you can easily and completely revert to where you were when you started.
Seriously. Back up first.
In order for this scenario to work, you must have a working, installed, activated copy of Windows 7, 8, or 8.1.
In addition, this process reportedly only works for the Home and Pro editions of Windows, and an upgrade (or downgrade) from one to another is not possible. The upgrade will result in the same edition — Home or Pro — you begin with.
Get Windows 10
The anecdotal information reported by several tech news outlets is that downloading Windows 10 and upgrading your Windows 7 or Windows 8 installation in place will result in a properly activated Windows 10 with a new digital license for that specific machine.
The steps are pretty straightforward.
- Visit the Windows 10 Download page.
- Click on Download tool now.
- Run the downloaded Windows 10 setup tool and follow its instructions.
- When prompted, select Upgrade this PC now.1
- Follow the rest of the instructions.
The result, after some time, should be a working and activated Windows 10 installation.
It’s unclear how long this approach will work, or if it even works in all situations. If not, your only recourse would be to revert to your backup image or purchase a Windows 10 license key.
If you try this process, leave a comment letting us know if it worked for you.
Footnotes & References
1: You can, if you like, select “Create installation media” if you’re downloading on one machine with plans to upgrade a different or multiple machines.