Can You Still Get Windows 10 For Free?

Category: Windows-10

The last day to get a free upgrade to Windows 10 was July 29, 2016. Many of us chose to let that opportunity pass, following reports of ongoing bugs in the new OS. But now, eight months later, the major bugs in Windows 10 seem to be resolved, and it’s time to upgrade. The question is, can you still upgrade for free?

Free Upgrades From Windows 7 or 8.1

Why yes, you can. Microsoft, by design or accident, has left open two paths to a free, legitimate license of Windows 10 for users moving from Windows 7 or 8.1. Let’s see how they work.

As part of the big Windows 10 November Update (what would have been called a Service Pack in the old days), Microsoft began to allow users to manually enter a valid Windows 7 or 8.1 product key during a clean installation of Windows 10. The Windows 10 installer transmits that key to Microsoft’s activation servers, which return a “digital license” that activates Windows 10 on the user’s machine.

You can initiate the upgrade at the Download Windows 10 page on the Microsoft website. Also available on that page is the Media Creation Tool, which you can use to do a clean install of Windows 10 using a DVD or USB flash drive. (A clean install involves wiping your disk, and the loss of your personal files.)

Free upgrade to Windows 10

With either method, you will need your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 product key. Your Windows product key is a 25-character string in the format XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX. It should be on a label or card inside the box that Windows came in, included with the packaging the PC came in, or included on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached to your PC. You can also find your product key using the free Belarc Advisor tool.

Entering a valid Windows 7 or 8.1 product key during the Windows installation process will activate your Windows 10 installation free of charge. Keep in mind that this method of upgrading to Windows 10 for free may have been an oversight by Microsoft, and may stop working without notice.

The Other Path

I mentioned earlier that there are two paths to a free Windows 10. The second one comes with some caveats. Microsoft offers a free Windows 10 upgrade for customers who use assistive technologies. In other words, for folks who have a disability of some sort.

On this page, Microsoft states that if you use assistive technology on Windows, you are eligible for the free upgrade offer. If you're willing to agree to the statement on the page which reads "Yes, I use assistive technologies and I am ready for my free upgrade to Windows 10," you can click the UPGRADE NOW button and start the process.

However, it's been widely reported that this path works regardless of whether or not you have a disability, or use assistive technology. I mention this option because I'm sure there are some AskBob readers who might honestly benefit from it. But keep in mind, it's dishonest to use this upgrade path if you're not truly disabled.

The deadline for this upgrade has been extended more than once, and the page now shows that this offer will expire on December 31, 2017.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Can You Still Get Windows 10 For Free?"

(See all 25 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

top squirrel
14 Feb 2017

Does it count if you claim to be morally disabled?

Posted by:

Nick Iacovelli
14 Feb 2017

anther reason to do a full back up first

Posted by:

14 Feb 2017

I agree with Calvin The'airedale. And checking new computer prices, it seems to me that computers with similar hardware (processor, etc) are about the same price whether they come with Win 7, 8, or 10. The $2,000+ price tag on a gaming computer is not due to Win 10. It's the enhanced procesor, video and sound cards, etc. The same seems to be true with a $500-$600 plain Jane laptop. Buy the hardware and the configuration you want, and Win 10 will come with it. Why pay extra to put it on an older machine. Besides, when my laptop dies, MS will be offering Win 12 or Win 14, in spite of what they say they have planned now.

Posted by:

Jay R
14 Feb 2017

A state of menial disability? Why, I downgraded to GWX on the day that my palm flower turned black hoping that I would not see a BSOD. My sound is fork as a mind tuning. Mental floss, indeed! Maybe I should start back and over up. Windows 10 has been very, very good too mi.

Posted by:

Ken Heikkila
14 Feb 2017

Took me two attempts to upgrade and a few updates to get all the bugs out, but Win 10 is by far the most stable, quickest, most useful Windows ever. And I have tried several Linux distributions over the years and it is still not as user friendly as Windows 98, let alone Windows 7 or 10. The paranoid minority are welcome to it.

Posted by:

14 Feb 2017

You do not need to be disabled to use the upgrade offer now. "If you use assistive technology on Windows, you are eligible for the free upgrade offer". One example of assistive technologies given on the same page (Microsoft upgrade FAQ) is Cortana. So feel free to upgrade without any bad conscience.

Posted by:

14 Feb 2017

While Win 10 has been acceptable for me on some of my PCs, I deeply regret installing it (as an upgrade to Win 8) on my tablet.
This was done months ago, certainly too long ago to be able to automatically uninstall Win 10 and roll back to Win 8.
Is there a relatively easy way to roll back (or better yet, install Win 7)?

Posted by:

14 Feb 2017

Pray tell, what are "assistive technologies?" My feeble 78 year old mind is in pretty good shape, but my body has all sorts of disabilities. (I have but don't use: a cane, a walker, crutches, etc., though I have used them and may have to go back to using them.) I don't have a youngster or teen to clue me in as to this terminology.

Posted by:

14 Feb 2017

Great information regarding updating to windows 10,
But i would argue why would you want too.

Posted by:

15 Feb 2017

There is no windows 11,12,13,14, etc. Windows 10 is supposed to be the last version of Windows.

Posted by:

15 Feb 2017

Thank you for this follow-up article. When I first upgraded my HP W7 desktop to W10 it was a disaster and I had to pay $100 to get it reverted. Then my laptop broke and the new one had W10. I've been using them side-by-side for six months, wishing they were identical operating systems but scared of another W10 upgrade. Your article prompted me to try again and it was a piece of cake. Thank you.

Posted by:

15 Feb 2017

Butch: Assistive technologies are apps/programs/devices used by people with disabilities to access and/or interact with information on the computer screen. Examples built in to the Windows operating system include Magnifier and Narrator, and Speech Recognition.

Commercially available accessibility programs include ZoomText which offers a number of visual enhancements, JAWS which reads the screen aloud or sends the screen information to a Braille display, and Dragon Naturally Speaking which allows you to interact with the screen display via voice recogntion rather than a mouse or keyboard.

The main reason that Microsoft is still allowing the Win 10 upgrade for assistive tech users is that some parts of Windows 10 (Edge, Mail) do not yet work well with assistive technology programs.

Posted by:

Paul H
15 Feb 2017

After you finish installing the assistive technology for Win 10 you have to go to settings to revert to non assistive settings.

Posted by:

David M
15 Feb 2017

Hey Bob - I thought the first method you mention in the article was supposed to be an upgrade as opposed to a clean install. But the article specifies "clean" install for both options. Was this a mistake?

Posted by:

Joe S
15 Feb 2017

To answer MGs question:
"Is there a relatively easy way to roll back (or better yet, install Win 7)?"
Yes there is....if the last thing you did before you let MS install W10 is BACK YOUR SYSTEM UP.
I made 2 backups of my W7 just in case the first one failed and in different places. One was on the data drive and the other was on an exterior usb3 drive.
Glad I did because I am still watching my wife rip her hair out with her W10.

Posted by:

15 Feb 2017

I once used the magnifier on Windows 7 (rotten feature, by the way). I'm therefore a user of assistive technologies, and am entitled to a free Windows 10.

That being said, and despite the fact I locked in my rights to a free upgrade long ago by initiating the operation, then aborting it, I have no intention of going there.

As a few snarky commenters remarked, you sure need to be mentally challenged to voluntary submit to Windows 10.

Posted by:

15 Feb 2017

Bob, I just tried Belarc Advisor on my Win7 Pro computer, and it does not display the actual Product Key in the Software Licenses section for my Windows 7 Professional, only the last 5 characters with an asterisk which at the bottom of the screen says "The full product key is not stored on this computer. However, the characters shown uniquely identify your product key." The characters shown are not in the same format of a Product Key and are all numbers.

Several other Microsoft Product Keys are displayed, just not the main one that is needed to 'upgrade' to Win10.

Posted by:

Tom Janzen
17 Feb 2017

This was very helpful. I have an older VAIO laptop on which I had installed Linux Mint. That works well but I always regretted not getting WIN 10 for free when it was available. I pulled the old hard drive out and installed an SSD and then used Windows Media Creator to install WIN 10 using the product key from a WIN 7 disc that I had. Works great! Much faster of course with the SSD. And I can always switch back to the Mint drive but at least I have WIN 10 on one drive for it now.

Posted by:

26 Feb 2017

Disrespectful comments like the one from Calvin The'airedale should be deleted and blocked for future comments.

Posted by:

08 Jun 2017

I also have Windows 10 64bit and do not believe it is the last version, no matter what Microsoft says. My upgrade was done last year and I have a digital entitlement, or something. However, I am using the machine in the same way I used it with Windows 8.1, with classic shell. In fact, I mostly do the same things I did on my XP machine. Actually, the XP machine can run an old webcam. The webcam is not 64 bit compatible.

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