Yes, You Can Still Get Windows 10 For Free

Category: Windows-10

January 14 2020 is the 'end of support' date for Windows 7. The last 'official' day to get a free upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 was July 29, 2016. Many of us chose to let that opportunity pass, for a variety of reasons. Maybe you saw no need to upgrade, maybe it was reports of bugs in the new OS, or perhaps you just got busy and missed the deadline. Or did you? Now, over three years later, there is still a path to upgrade your Windows 7 computer to Windows 10 for free. I tried it, and successfully upgraded a Windows 7 computer. Here's the scoop...

Free Windows 10 Upgrades From Windows 7 or 8.1

You've probably heard that Windows 7 reaches "end of life" on 01/14/2020. As I mentioned in my article Here's How to Upgrade Your Old Computer, that does NOT mean that your Windows 7 computer will stop working on January 15, 2020. It does mean that you won't receive any further Windows security updates, and that's a very good to say goodbye to this 10-year-old operating system.

So can you still get Windows 10 for free? Why yes, you can. Microsoft, by design or accident, has left open a path to a free, legitimate license of Windows 10 for users moving from Windows 7 or 8.1. (This assumes you have a legal, activated version of Windows now.) We'll go over the steps, but there are a few preparations to make.

First, make a backup. It's not likely, but when doing a major system upgrade, things can go wrong. Or you might not like the brave new world of Windows 10. A full image backup will give you the option to "turn back the clock" and restore your computer to the exact state it was in before the upgrade. (If you need help with backups, see my ebook Everything You Need to Know About BACKUPS, where you'll learn about backup software and strategies.)

Free upgrade to Windows 10

Next, temporarily disconnect any external storage devices, such as external hard drives or USB flash drives. You can plug them back in after the upgrade, but in some scenarios, having them connected can cause problems.

You can initiate the upgrade at the Download Windows 10 page on the Microsoft website. On that page is the Media Creation Tool, which you can use to install Windows 10 using a DVD or USB flash drive. Click the blue "Download tool now" button. When the download is complete, run the Windows 10 setup program and select the "Upgrade this PC now" option. Follow the instructions, and you'll end up with Windows 10.

If you're new to Windows 10, I recommend you see my related articles Try These Windows 10 Tips and Tricks and FIFTEEN Windows 10 Features You Didn't Know About

There's no need to dig up your Windows license key, or pull out your credit card. After the upgrade, you can confirm that you have a valid digital license for Windows 10 by going to Settings > Update & Security > Activation.

As I mentioned earlier, I tried this method on a computer of mine that was still running Windows 7, and it worked fine. I did notice one minor glitch. One of my third-party programs didn't work, but after installing the latest version of Bitwise SSH Client, all was well. I found that the Windows 10 interface was quite similar to Windows 7, and didn't require much of a learning curve. And Windows 10 does have a boatload of security improvements, including ransomware protection.

This method of upgrading to Windows 10 for free does not seem to be an oversight by Microsoft, because it's been available for three and a half years. However, it may stop working without notice. My belief is that Microsoft would be pleased if you paid $119 for your Windows 10 license, but they'll be content to have you continue as a Windows user. That gives them the opportunity to sell you other services, such as Microsoft Office 365 or OneDrive cloud storage.

If you've been thinking about moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10, but the cost was holding you back, give this a try and let me know how it works out. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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

(See all 31 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Russell Baldwin
14 Jan 2020

I updated an older HP win7 laptop and am so glad I did. It runs better than it did before with win7 and not really any fuss to speak of to upgrade... I was doing a clean install to some degree so I didn't save a lot from the previous family member that used it first, but it runs better hands down... now I just have to figure out the overheating it experiences. But when it worked well, I had fun being able to play StarCraft II on it... Just sayin. Give in to the dark side... ;) Thanks for the Reminder Bob!

Posted by:

14 Jan 2020

One thing to point out is that if you have an active internet connection during the installation you will be prompted to setup an online account with no option for the local account choice. To get around this do not connect to the internet until after the installation is complete. There will be an option during installation to skip connecting to the internet. If you choose that option you will be able to setup a local account.

Posted by:

14 Jan 2020

I knew about this. Still debating. I got a new desktop with Win 10, so I might just find a way to use my old PC as a media server either just on my local network or with a fancy Linux distro.

I worked for a place fixing computers back when Win 10 came out. Everyone else working there thought I was crazy not to go to Windows 10. I felt the same about them going to it. I was fixing computers with upgrade issues every day, why mess my own up and be aggravated at home. Win 7 may not be utopia but I do still like it and especially my ability to choose when and which Windows Updates to install. The most aggravating at work was when a colleague would tell so many people, (around 3 years ago btw) "oh Win 7 is going away very soon. You better upgrade." Customer would do so and then come back complaining about all the things that no longer worked. Then, I'd go to the manufacturers' website and it would say in big letters "This equipment has not been tested with Win 10, upgrade at your own risk." & they wouldn't have new drivers that were made to work with Win 10 of course. Anyway, sorry to complain. Just a not so interesting story for you.

Posted by:

14 Jan 2020

Zen: Windows 7 Starter should upgrade to Windows 10 Home. Starter is 32-bit, so the upgraded Windows should be also 32-bit. Win7 Basic also upgrades to Win10 Home. Win7 Ultimate upgrades to Win10 Pro.

RandiO: "Upgrades" are like to like systems, e.g. Win7 home to Win10 home, 64-bit to 64-bit, etc. Upgrades keep all user files and most programs.

But: One can change 'bitness' by doing a Clean install of Windows, just install what you want and use the old Win7 product key. That however loses all user files and programs so do a backup first! (for that matter ... do a backup first regardless of update/upgrade or whatever. Stuff still happens and a backup can save you from almost everything.)

Guy: I have heard this before ('free' upgrade from some home version to pro) but it's not supposed work that way. Product keys carry home or pro indicators.

Len: Multi-boot systems require more care; when upgrading always make sure the system being upgraded is the default.

Note: Making an image of a Win7 system, upgrading to Win10, and then restoring the Win7 image to a separate partition is an way to create a dual-boot system with both Win7 and 10 but is against the Windows license terms of service. Upgraded Win7 systems cease to exist, they are now Win10 systems.

Posted by:

John A.
15 Jan 2020

After 2 hours and 58 minutes, arrived at a Screen indicating "Undoing changes made to your computer" !!
Installation failed in the SAFE_OS phase with an error during REPLICATE_OC operation.

The second attempt a day later resulted in exactly the same error message (Two hours and 48 minutes !!).

NO external drives or peripherals connected; Windows firewall disabled; AV disabled; USB mouse removed.


Any and all input/direction greatly appreciated.

Posted by:

Dennis Christensen
15 Jan 2020

I have subscribed to your wonderful tech news items since the early days of "Squirrels" and the "Internet Tourbus". I have tried several times to flip my windows 7 PC to Windows 10 to no avail. Who else could get it right, but you? SUCCESS! Thanks. I will be forever grateful to you and your valuable, usable and trustworthy tech info.

Posted by:

Alex Toth
15 Jan 2020

Russell Baldwin: there's a free program called SpeedFan that I've been using on two different Acer laptops, (one still running Vista) that seems to help. It's certainly worth a try.
Good luck.

Posted by:

Don Fedak
15 Jan 2020

Recieved LAST Windows 7 upgrade notice this AM.

Posted by:

15 Jan 2020

Will this work on an original Surface tablet that came with Win 8 but then upgraded itself to Win 8.1? I have tried previously and get a message that it cannot. thanks

Posted by:

16 Jan 2020

I went to the Download Windows 10 site you linked: and - only somewhat to my surprise - was informed that I would need a W10 licence.

Curious, I went to the site M-soft linked to find out about getting a license: this put me through a meaningless little quiz, and then stalled on the fourth and final question - the page is still hung 10 minutes later. Typical M-sh*t, but then I'm going to stick with W7 until I have learned my way round Linux,

Posted by:

19 Jan 2020

I did a successful upgrade from Win7 to Win10 on 1/15/2020. With great fear and trepidation, I proceeded with the install following these steps:
1) I know I have Administrator privileges on my computer.
2) Disconnect all unnecessary hard disk drives, both internal and external, ending up with only the C: drive.
3) Uninstalled my antivirus program.
4) With Win7 booted up and settled (I go off and do something else for a half hour):
5) Plug in the USB thumb drive with the Win10 software on it.
6) Open the thumb drive in Explorer and double click on "setup.exe".
7) CHECK: MAKE SURE "WHAT TO KEEP: FILES & APPS" IS SELECTED!!! (I think I also made sure that "Updates Now?:" was set to "NOT now".)
8) Then let it run.
9) After the install finished, and Windows 10 opened (YEAH!!!), it defaulted correctly to: connect to my WiFi, and Timezone, date, & time.
10) Then I did Win10 updates, which took quite a while, as expected.

Posted by:

20 Jan 2020

I have just downloaded the W10 updates from the link above, one for a 32-bit and another for the 64-bit laptop. Both updates ran in just fine.
On the 64-bit laptop, I had downloaded W10 update when it was first released, tried several times to upgrade but failed, no idea why. The latest update ran in just fine. The update is time consuming and requires several user inputs along the way. At the end, you will find the screen looking like one of those not-so-smart phones and W10 will think that your PC or laptop is a 'device'.
And then there is the time-consuming learning curve coupled with the need to update other programs and reset everything to how you want the 'device' to look and operate. So far, a sample check has shown that existing programs are working just fine.
So, sooner or later you will probably need to bite the bullet; just make sure that you have plenty of time.

Posted by:

Les Pabjanek
26 Jan 2020

Hi Bob,
I upgraded my sy=tationary computer from Windows 7 to Windows 10 with no problem.
But when I tried to get this done on my laptop, every time after the installation process, I get this response "Windows 10 Installation Filed"
I have tried 3 times and the result is the same.
My laptop still has original Windows 7 installation disk available.
What can be the reason for this installation failure?

Posted by:

Sadik Topaloglu
07 Feb 2020

Hi Bop,
I tried to upgrade my HP Laptop which was originally with
W 7 Pro OS, but unfortunately whenit reached 89% of the install I got following message;
0xC1900101 - 0x4000D The installation failed at the SECOND_BOOT phase with an error during MIGRATE_DATA operation.
And it rolled back to W7 Pro.

Is there a cure for this ?

Thanking you in advance I remain with kind regards
Sadik Topaloglu

Posted by:

26 Feb 2020

Win 10 has a back door built in to it so your ISP, Microsoft or even the government can get right in to your PC. Thanks, but no thanks.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Uh huh... can you post a link to verify this claim?

Posted by:

David W. Thomas
02 Sep 2020

Just finished this update from Windows 7 Pro to Windows 10 Pro on my desktop system. Still works even though it has been many months since the supposed end of the freebie. Worked very well, with no real glitches. Thanks Bob for all your information. It has been invaluable in all my work with computers!

Posted by:

16 Oct 2020

Wonderful - Thank You - really helped me out.
I had just recovered a laptop but the only OS system i had a license for was win7 home which has limitations with some newest MS programs.
I was able to upgrade to win 10- easier then the comments i had read, probably overall time to upgrade less then 2 hrs with updates.
Thank you again for such a great article and information.
Keep up the good work.
Stay Safe

Posted by:

06 Jan 2021

I tried a free upgrade from 7 to 10 in 2015. Result: a bricked motherboard. Repair: a new motherboard and retention of 7.

Posted by:

Stephan Borau
18 Jan 2021

Thanks Bob for the post on getting to the free Windows 10 download. I went through the process (downloaded the Media Creation Tool to a usb key and ran it from there, not from the desktop). Worked very smoothly.

Unfortunately, I was upgrading from Windows 8.1 (which has been getting finicky), and with Windows 10 it was causing jerky video playback and cursor pausing.

Grateful that a couple of clicks and Windows 8.1 is restored.

Posted by:

18 Jan 2021

I have tried many times to upgrade Win 7 to 10. After installation the message says all is fine but there is no Internet connection. The Win 10 troubleshooters can't correct it. I am still using Win 7 with a firewall and use Avast AV banking mode if I visit any financial sites.

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