How to get Windows 10 for free after July 29, 2016

The free Windows 10 upgrade offer for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, which is infamously forced by Microsoft with almost every batch of updates, ends this year on July 29. After that, users who decide to switch to Windows 10, will have to pay money for its license. If you are not ready for Windows 10 right now, but want to have a free license for the future in case you change your mind, here is a very simple trick you can do to obtain a Windows 10 license but still continue using Windows 7 or 8.1.
windows 10 logo banner blueBefore you continue, you need to know two things. You need to know how to clean install Windows 7 or 8.1 on your current computer in case of a retail copy. If your Windows 7/8 edition is an OEM license (it came preinstalled with your PC, then you need to know how to start the factory reset tool from your PC manufacturer to restore the default system on it.

Another thing you need to know is that the free Windows 10 license you get will be tied to the computer on which you upgrade. If you change your hardware, you will need to buy another license of Windows 10. Keep this in mind.

To get a free Windows 10 license, you need to do the following.

  1. If you are using a desktop PC where you are likely to upgrade or replace some components in the future, upgrade them now. Once this is done, you will avoid potential license issues in Windows 10 which occur by change of hardware.
  2. Create an empty partition on your hard drive using Disk Management (Win+X menu). Then install Windows 10 version 1511 (build 10586) downloaded from Microsoft or using the Media Creation Tool. You can use your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 product key in Windows 10 version 1511's setup. If you already have setup files for Windows 10 build 10586, you can create a regular bootable USB stick or a bootable UEFI USB stick.

    Download ISOs from Microsoft and Media Creation Tool
  3. If you don't have enough disk space to create a separate partition, then connect an external drive and create a full system image backup of the installed Windows 7 or 8 copy on your PC if possible. A system image backup can be performed by starting C:\Windows\system32\sdclt.exe as administrator. Advanced users of Windows 8 familiar with the command line can also use recimg.exe to create an image which includes installed apps. If you don't have enough storage to create a full backup, then it is a good idea to backup at least your personal data files and settings.
    There are plenty of third party solutions too to do the backup: you can use some commercial tool like Acronis True Image, or free tools like Aomei Backupper or EaseUS Todo Free, which are extremely fast. Or you can use tools from the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit - searching the web will tell you how to capture an image of the installed operating system using DISM. The backup software options are endless on the Windows platform. Backup is just a precautionary step so you can restore your copy of Windows and its apps.
  4. Now, install Windows 10 and enter the product key of your existing installed Windows operating system. See this article  to learn how to view your product key. Windows 10 build 10586 (Version 1511 or TH2) accepts product keys of Windows 8 and Windows 7.If you don't have a separate partition, then just upgrade to Windows 10 as prompted or run its installer from Windows 7 or Windows 8.
  5. Ensure that Windows 10 is activated on your PC. PCs upgraded from Windows 7 or 8 are eligible for activation using digital entitlement.

That's it. This is the important step - to make sure that Windows 10 is activated. After this, you can immediately erase it from its partition and restore the previously installed version of Windows 7 or 8. Retail copies of Windows 7 or 8 can be simply clean installed again. If your Windows 7 or 8 was an OEM license, your PC will come with a recovery partition or a tool to factory reset it.

Whenever you decide to switch to Windows 10 after July 29, 2016, just install it on the same hardware WITHOUT entering any product key. It will be installed and activated automatically since it was previously activated once on the same hardware.

This method should work as long as Microsoft keeps their promise about honoring Windows 10 licenses obtained through digital entitlement.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

9 thoughts on “How to get Windows 10 for free after July 29, 2016”

  1. I am absolutely convinced that MS will renew the free upgrade offer on June 1st.

    They will make a LOT of noise in the next two months leading up to that time, telling people that their window for free upgrades is about to run out. Hurry up now, upgrade! Why? Well, because they want people on Windows 10, no matter what, and generating false sense of urgency serves their agenda.

    Then the next monday, they’ll make the upgrades free forever.

  2. thanks windows 10 is still the best Operating system I ever used. any one who are using win 7 or win should upgrade it to windows 10

  3. I wonder how stingy they’re going to get about the “same hardware” thing. WGA and WAT made you reactivate Windows after too many upgrades (“too many” sometimes meaning one), but this sounds like it will simply deactivate entirely.

  4. The only “problem” is, that your licence of Windows 7/8 isn’t valid anymore after you activated Windows 10. It’s practically transformed into a Win 10 licence.
    If you keep working with Win7/8 you are doing it illegally. You could as well be downloading a cracked version from the net.

      1. I always thought, that the Windows 7 key becomes invalid one month after you Windows 10 activation.
        That’s the time span MS gives you to downgrade back to Windows 7. After that your Win 7 key should become invalid and a Win 7 activation also shouldn’t work anymore.

  5. I was among first to register / reserve a free win10 upgrade as I was eligible. I was told I I can after reservation I may upgrade when I want to do so. So i waited a while being worried my old software may not work on the new system. When I tried finally a year ago. It did not work . what ever I did with the upgrade assistant I kept on getting error messages. This summer I found out that the media creation may solve my problem. as I had at that time urgent work to do I needed my old software to work. In August 2016 I read that the media creator was still accepting win7 keys. So tried to find the key with a key finder. That key did not work. A few days ago i was told I shall use the key attached on my laptop . Now I used that key but the Media Creation tool still would not deal with my key. I searched the internet if that tool no longer accepts the win7 key but found no one saying that. Still I cannot upgrade. To summarize: I was among first to register for a free upgrade, but I am still struggling to get it upgraded. Can anyone help ?

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