UPDATE 10/30/2017: Microsoft’s upgrade offer may be over, but you can still get Windows 10 for free on your PC. If you recall, on an effort to get everyone updated to the latest version of the operating system, the company made Windows 10 a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs for the first year.
Initially, the caveat was that users needed to do the upgrade first, before doing a clean install. Then the Windows 10 November Update introduced a new change to allow the installer to accept valid Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 product keys to activate without prior upgrade.
After the installation, the OS would simply verify the product key converting into a “digital entitlement”. This process would then let you continue use Windows 10 forever on your PC with free updates.
Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 product keys still work to upgrade to Windows 10
It was only supposed to work during the free promotional offer period. However, we’re now in October 2017, and users who are still stuck on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 can still use this method to get Windows 10 for free.
Actually, this method works when you install the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update using a bootable media or even when supplying the product key after installing the operating system.
While Microsoft knows about the loophole, it’s not commenting for how long it’ll last. It’s possible that the company will leave the loophole open indefinitely just to get as much computers upgraded to Windows 10, but things can always change.
How to get Windows 10 for free
If you’re still running an older version, there are three main steps to get the free upgrade. First, you need to figure out the product key. You can use this guide to create your very own product key finder.
Second, you have to create a Windows 10 installation media using the Media Creation tool.
Third, and finally step, you will need to do a clean install of the operating system entering your Windows 7/8.1 genuine product key.
Once you’ve installed Windows 10 on your PC, make sure to go to Settings > Update & security > Activation and update your product key settings as necessary.
If you’re using a Microsoft account, you would also notice that your product key gets associated with your account, which makes it very easy to reactivate Windows 10 after a hardware change on your PC.
It’s an easy process, but depending on your configuration, it might just take a few hours to get everything setup.
Keep in mind that it’s not clear for how much longer you’ll be able to get Windows 10 for free. Microsoft could block this process at any time. So, if you’re planning to upgrade, you should do it as soon as possible.
Update October 30, 2017: This article has been updated to reflect that it’s still possible to activate Windows 10 with a product key from an older version of Windows.