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How to Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free in 2018

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In November of 2017, Microsoft quietly announced it was shutting down its free Windows 10 upgrade program. If you didn’t get your free version of its best operating system to date, well, you were pretty much out of luck. Or, so we thought.

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Recently I learned that Windows 10 updates still work just as they always had, and I’m currently running a version on a pieced together PC after upgrading from a working version of Windows 8.1. It’s not as cut and dry, as Microsoft has deleted the tool that makes all of our lives simpler when upgrading, but with a tiny bit of work you too can upgrade older versions of Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 to a fully-functioning version of Windows 10.

Here’s how.

1. Find a copy of Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 as you’ll need the key later. If you don’t have one lying around, but it’s currently installed on your system, a free tool like NirSoft’s ProduKey can pull the product key from software currently running on your PC.

nirosoft2. This is a good stop to pause and back up anything you’d like to save on your current PC before continuing.

backup3. From here, you’ll need to create a Windows 10 installer by going here and then configuring the installer (Create installation media for another PC) with your desired hardware. Use ISO file if you plan to burn it to a DVD or USB flash drive if you’d rather install it from a USB device. You’ll also need to select 32 or 64 bit versions of Windows.

installer

4. Insert the installation media, restart the computer and then press F2 to create a different boot priority. This will allow the USB flash drive (or DVD) to run before booting into the operating system. This will be slightly different on all PCs, depending on their BIOS setup, but it’s pretty cut and dry -- select the drive or the DVD to boot before the main HDD or SDD.

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5. Reboot your computer one more time.

reboot

6. After the installation runs, you’ll be asked to provide your key. Enter it here and click Next.

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32 comments
  • D. J. Weidner Says:

    As of October 12, 2018, this process still works. I took an HP Pravilion Elite HPE-367cb, and did a clean install over the OS (Windows 7 Home) and replaced it with a clean install of Windows 10 Home 64-bit, and then after install used a key from an old copy of Windows 7 Home and this process worked. It granted the digital license and then i allowed it to link to my Microsoft account. The install loaded all the drivers..for the standard equipment that came with that model. I had to load graphics drivers, but I would have done that anyway because I swapped out the older card for a newer ATI card....

    Thanks for the tips....they work perfectly.

  • Michael Goose Says:

    Worked for me from Windows 7 Prof to Windows 10. Thanks

  • David Sarmu Says:

    The information is very useful but because I do not have a product key, I am afraid I will not succeed to upgrade to windows 10.

  • Last of the Wins Says:

    Still works. Like the soy said, select executable from USB installer and perform an upgrade without a clean install. Never asked for a Product Key. My machine is a Dell PC preinstalled with Win7 Pro.

  • Van Lishout Says:

    Ik had reeds win 10 op de pc maar na formateren ben ik alles kwijt kunt u me helpen?

  • Jeferson Says:

    Novamente o transportou o diabo a um monte muito alto; e mostrou-lhe todos os reinos do mundo, e a glória deles.
    E disse-lhe: Tudo isto te darei se, prostrado, me adorares.
    Então disse-lhe Jesus: Vai-te, Satanás, porque está escrito: Ao Senhor teu Deus adorarás, e só a ele servirás.

    Mateus 4:8-10

  • AYAAN Says:

    IT WORKS !
    it worked on my windows seven laptop . JUST WANT TO SAY THANKS !!

  • Andy Hasting Says:

    It worked!
    As of 1st of August 2018, I can confirm that it worked on our windows 7 laptops. The laptops have OEM version of Win 8 which we downgraded to Win 7 years ago. These are the steps I did: reformat the laptop and reload clean OEM Win 7, get it connected to the internet and check to make sure they are activated and showed genuine logo. While still in Windows, pop in the Win 10 USB stick (you need to create it from Microsoft website). Run the setup.exe and click on upgrade. It will start the installation process. When all done, it will load Win 10, make sure it is connected to internet and it should show digitally activated. Never was I asked for CD key during the upgrade. Cheers!

  • Marilyn Finden Says:

    i downloaded windows 10 and its all in German. Do you know how to change it to English please.

  • M. Jensen Says:

    I couldn't get the installation to work when booting from the installation media (USB stick). This only gave me the choies of "Repair" or "Install". The later would not accept the product key retrieved with ProduKey.
    However opening the installation media from within Windows, and simply executing the setup.exe file gave me the option to "update" Windows to 10.
    I was never prompted once for product key and the Windows 10 version I'm using, is now licensed as digital upgrade.

  • Caique Says:

    Verified 7/15/2018

    I did exactly like user "the soy" said: after step 3, I ran the executable in my usb and chose to update. Didn't need to format my pc, didn'tlose my files/programs, and didn't need to enter my windows key. Thanks author of this post and thanks users that shared tips in the comments!

  • Manoj Goswami Says:

    upgrade window10(32bit) to64bit

  • Azer Y. Says:

    Verified still working on 01 July 2018.
    I managed to upgrade my laptop which have an activated win8.1 (bios embedded key) to win10. After installing win10, it activated without needing to input any product key after I update to the newest win10 1803. Just skip when prompt for product key during installation.

  • Barbara Says:

    I just tried this and it didn't work. My product ID (not key) has OEM in it. When I boot from the USB, it has one button that says "Install" and an option at the bottom of the screen to repair my computer. The next screen after clicking Install asks for the product key (which fails), and doesn't give me an option to choose between upgrade or fresh install.

  • JHobe Says:

    So it seems that it doesn't work for OEM installs. RIP.

  • Barbara Says:

    is backing up the computer necessary? does doing the update wipe everything? I don't happen to have a handy way of backing up my computer, so I was wondering how many of you actually needed to use the backup you created.

  • cynthia southwart Says:

    windows 10 is useless. I have new PC now told I have to update to get "windows Hello" told my pc is not compatible. NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

  • John D. Says:

    Verified 6/13/2018

    Was able to upgrade from clean install of windows 8.1

  • Casey Says:

    Verified 6/11/18
    This still works- but, you must install per the article directions. My update failed multiple times until I followed exactly. Need to download the .iso Win10 to USB drive. Then, reboot PC, change boot sequence to USB first (F12 at boot). When you boot from USB, start the Win 10 installation and I had to choose the CUSTOM installation to push a clean install for my new hard drive which I previously installed Win 7 Home version on. If you choose upgrade, it asks for your license key and then FAILS when it says the license key is not valid. But if you choose custom install and do a fresh installation, it works. Note- when starting the install, Win asks if you want to use use the most recent update files available (or something like that), choose no and install from the USB drive. The installation process proceeds through without requiring a single entry of your Win license number. And Viola, after failing at this upgrade for days and nearly giving up, I now have a verified Win 10 version on my PC for free. THANK YOU.

  • anony Says:

    Just an FYI. Just do regular updates. My friends computer updated from 8.1 to 10 just yesterday, June 7th, 2018. He woke up and it was there. I visually confirmed. Now I won't do any updates in the fear I will get that tracking spyware, malware software that is W10.

  • Daniel Østermark Says:

    did not work.

    I used a Windows 7 Pro key to install Win 10 Pro.. but after the install when changing key, it will not take my win7pro key

  • Actual Windows User Says:

    Worked as of 6/3/18. Upgraded from Windows 7 pro to Windows 10 pro.

    I didn't end up needing to enter my Windows 7 product key.

  • Ellarin Holston Says:

    install windows 10 I want to upgrade my Laptop so tat I can use it wen I cannot use the desktop

  • Jeremy Cox Says:

    This installs using a win7 key as fresh install. Confirmed May 31 2018

  • the soy Says:

    it worked. but after step 3, i instead of rebooting and installing from scratch, i went to the usb, selected the starting executable, selected upgrade windows 7 instead of fresh install. went through the prompts, and i dont think i even had to enter my windows key. it just upgraded everything. cheers for this info!

  • Eddie Says:

    Thank you for the tips. Works very well!

  • slamet Says:

    thank you for giving the system upgrade windows 10 for free

  • No Joy Says:

    Did not work. Said Windows 8 activation key was not valid for Windows 10.

  • Stephen Campbell Says:

    confirmed this does work. date installed 5-14-18.

  • ACME1 Says:

    will this work with an OEM win7 key?

  • Peter Rabbit Says:

    Is this upgrade still available today, 5/5/2018?

  • RogerRoger Says:

    Are you sure this actually works? The link provided takes you to a MS page where a licensed user can DL Win10 ISO if they need to do a reinstall of Win10. I find it hard to believe that MS will allow upgrade installations of Win10 using a Win7 or Win8 license. That's the upgrade program that was ended. Therefore you expect logically that Win8 licenses no longer function as upgrade licenses for Win10.

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