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Download Windows 10 for free – how to still get a free upgrade legally

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Windows 10

Microsoft ended its free upgrade offer for Windows 10 on July 29, 2016, but it turns out you may still be able to legally upgrade to the latest version for free – no hacking required. Here's all you need to know.

Microsoft's free 'Get Windows 10' initiative has been and gone, much to the delight of many a user who was sick of seeing the GWX tool constantly popping up on their screens.

But if you snubbed Microsoft's offer of a free upgrade and have since decided you want to switch to the latest version of Windows, all is not lost. Here are a couple of ways you can still nab a free upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

Related: Windows 10 vs Windows 8.1 – should you upgrade?

How to upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1

Over on ZDNet, Ed Bott explained how he was still able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free on the sly.

First, open the Download Windows 10 page, enter the version of Windows 10 you want to download and the language you need, then download either the 32-bit or 64-bit version using the links that appear. Once the download is done, run the Media Creation Tool.

Once the tool opens, choose the 'Upgrade this PC now' option, as long as you're using the tool on the PC you want to upgrade. The other option, 'Create installation media for another PC', will allow you to save the installation files to a USB drive so you can then use them on another computer.

Next, mount the ISO file or simply open the flash drive in File Explorer and run Setup. It should then be a case of following the on-screen instructions to finish the upgrade. You shouldn't be asked for a product key, according to Bott.

Note that as our Computing Editor was last seen face down on a blackjack table at Caesars Palace...sorry, reporting from CES 2017...we haven't tried this method ourselves, but Bott seems like a reliable enough chap, so you may well get some mileage out of his workaround.

Related: Windows 10 vs Windows 7 – should you upgrade?

Windows 10 start

Checking your license

Once you've completed the above process, you can check on your digital license by going to Settings>Update & security>Activation.

If you're concerned that this method might not be 100% on the level in terms of you owning a valid digital license, it should be noted that the free upgrade programme is officially over. But Microsoft uses some ambiguous language in its 'Upgrade to Windows 10' FAQ, which seems to suggest you won't be hunted down and detained for upgrading in this way.

Either way, be aware that Microsoft hasn't issued any statement on the fact that the upgrade can still be downloaded for free, so it's your call whether you take advantage or not.

Free upgrade for those who use assistive technologies

While the main free upgrade programme ended in July, Microsoft has extended it for those who use assistive technologies. You can learn more about this and get your free download by visiting this page.

If you're not sure what an 'assistive technology' is, there's a whole page dedicated to extolling Microsoft's efforts to improve the Windows 10 experience here, where all the assistive wonders are listed. It includes things like Narrator, which turns text to speech, and various other features that make the OS easier to use for those who need assistance.

While we're sure only those who really use such assistive technology have been using this method thus far (ahem), we're sure there's a few shameless, fully-abled individuals out there who would make use of such a method of obtaining a free upgrade.

We don't condone exploiting this loophole, of course, but the fact that Microsoft has left it open, with no burden of proof required, means it's as legal as it is borderline unethical – the caveat being that Microsoft only asks if you "use assistive technologies," not whether you have to use them.

Related: How to fix 13 common Windows 10 problems

Watch: Surface Studio first look

Let us know how you get on trying to download Windows 10 for free in the comments below.

LorinT

January 9, 2017, 1:45 am

There's a small and consistent error -- all 18 times that the article states "upgrade" should in fact read "downgrade". For instance this sentence would be accurate:

... if you snubbed Microsoft's offer of a free downgrade and have since decided you want to switch to the latest version of Windows, all is not lost. Here are a couple of ways you can still nab a free downgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1...

disqus_DDEkcLuNfY

January 9, 2017, 11:00 pm

"assisted tech" last i read didnt specify ANYTHING.. meaning even a mouse and keyboard could be

disqus_DDEkcLuNfY

January 9, 2017, 11:00 pm

live in the dark ages with your 3.11.. 10 has been great for my 60+ computers

starmonche

January 10, 2017, 4:37 am

It's a funny joke and we used to make it regarding the "upgrade" from XP to Vista, but W10 is still a much better OS overall and its additional functionality definitely makes it an upgrade...despite Microsoft's ridiculous efforts to mess up its acceptance. 

toboev

January 10, 2017, 5:10 pm

I still run Win 7. What benefits are there to changing to W10? I'm interested in specifics here, not broad generalisations. My PC is a 5ish year old core i7 with 12GB memory and an SSD, so generally I find it fast enough for all my Web browsing and use of Office software.

Décreateurs

February 25, 2017, 9:23 am

Can I use the usb method for a first install on my new pc ?
It doesn't have any os yet.
Also, you said it was legal, right ?

Thanks lots !

paperloader

April 22, 2017, 5:19 am

Can I update from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 10 Pro using the Assistive Technologies?

Joel Edwards

June 1, 2017, 11:06 am

If you're interested in specifics, how about that Microsoft is going to cull official support for Windows 7 in the next few years. Meaning that, like Windows XP, it will no longer receive security updates making it more vulnerable. This would be of concern to you given as you say you use your PC for web browsing

toboev

June 1, 2017, 11:44 am

Sure. When it happens. Until then, however? Five months and nobody can tell me any specific benefits to Win 10 under my general use scenario. I've since discovered my PC is 8 years old (had to dig into it when the graphics card died!).
Thanks all the same for the heads-up about Win 7 end of life.

Joel Edwards

June 1, 2017, 11:58 am

No problem :)

For your information, I've literally just now had a chat with a MS Answer Desk tech about the legal/licencing about upgrading to Windows 10 for free with a downloaded ISO from their site. They've informed me that as long as you using a legally activated copy of Windows 7 then its all above board to do so. In that regard you have nothing to lose by upgrading, even if you revert back to Windows 7 afterwards at least you've still "reserved" your digital entitlement to Windows 10 (in case they do decide to terminate the upgrade rights in the near future)

Fabien Chefdeville

June 6, 2017, 3:30 pm

Hi, I would like to share with you this very interesting website : "licence-activation"
where you can get an original activation key and a genuine licence on a very interesting price.
I have tried a key from the website and it is perfectly working. They answer quite fastly to emails, and can even assist you online through Teamviewer in case of a problem. I highly recommend.

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