Windows 7 is discontinued, but you don’t need to pay to upgrade to Windows 10. Microsoft has quietly been providing free upgrades over the years. You can still upgrade any PC to Windows 10 with a genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8 license.
Free Upgrade Works
If you are using a Windows PC with a real and active Windows 7 key (or Windows 8), you can upgrade to Windows 10 with just a few clicks. Your PC will receive a genuine, active Windows 10 key – as it did during the first year of Windows 10 when the free upgrade offer was officially drafted.
You can also upgrade a PC by installing the latest version of Windows 10, even if it doesn’t have any operating system installed on it. All you need to do is enter a valid Windows 7 (or Windows 8) key.
There is no guarantee that it will work forever, but it worked on January 14, 2020. Microsoft might someday pull components and cut new upgrades. But, for now, you can still upgrade. And after an upgrade, your PC gets a Windows 10 key that will continue to work – even if Microsoft stops allowing new upgrades in the future.
Update: Note that we can’t talk to the commercial license side here. If your business contains a Windows 7 computer, Microsoft will not be able to follow the terms of its license agreement after using this method to upgrade your work computer. We won’t have to worry about this for home computers, but organizations should contact Microsoft’s licensing partners for more information.
Back Up Before Upgrading
Before you begin, we recommend that you make a backup copy of your files. The upgrade process should not delete your files unless you choose to delete them, but it’s always a good idea to back up an existing file – especially when you’re upgrading to a larger operating system.
We encourage you to find your Windows 7 (or Windows 8) key, if you need it. This key can be printed on a sticker on the case of your PC or laptop. If you have Windows 7 or Windows 8 automatically installed, you will need to find the license key purchased.
If your computer does not have a sticker, you can always use a tool like Nirsoft’s Pro product to find the license key used in your computer.
How to Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free
To get the free upgrade, go to Microsoft’s Windows 10 download site. Click on the Download Now button and download the .exe file. Run it, click on the tool, and select “Upgrade this PC now” when prompted.
Yes, it’s simple. We’re not hiding anything here – Microsoft chooses to upgrade those tools.
If you prefer a clean install, you can select “Create installation media” and then provide a valid Windows 7 or 8 key when installing Windows 10.
During the upgrade process, you can choose whether to keep all files on your system or start over.
After the Upgrade
Once installed, you can go to Settings> Updates & Security> Activation Screen. You will see that your system is “digital license activated”.
If you signed into Windows 10 with a Microsoft account, this license will be associated with your Microsoft account, if you facilitate Windows 10 reactivation on your computer.
And yes, you should be able to get a clean install of Windows 10 in the future. Windows 10 activation will then notice “Phone Home” that your hardware configuration file has a valid license, and that it is running automatically.
If you have Windows 7, it is best to upgrade it. If you don’t want to use Windows 10, consider installing Linux, getting a Chromebook, or moving to a Mac. You don’t need to use Windows 10, but we think you should move to Windows 7.