How you can still get Windows 10 for free

Technical Level : Basic

Summary

Windows 10 was released with a free upgrade offer that lasted for 1 year. Now, the free upgrade promotional period is officially over. However, you can still snag yourself a free license of Windows 10, perfectly legally, if you know how.

It is a good idea to secure your important data before proceeding with any upgrade or installation.


Details

Use a Windows 7 or Windows 8.x product key

While the free upgrade offer ended last year, Microsoft will still let you install Windows 10 and activate it using a valid Windows 7 or Windows 8.x product key. When you download Windows 10 this way, your PC will receive a digital license valid for the life of the device, exactly the same way as if you had taken advantage of last year's offer.

First, you'll need to find your product key. See my article "How to recover your Windows product key" for more information.

When you've found your product key, head over to the Download Windows 10 website and click the Download tool now button.

When the tool finishes downloading, open it, accept the license terms, and hit Upgrade this PC now. If you prefer, you can also select Create installation media for another PC to download an .iso file and clean install Windows 10.

If you choose to create installation media, make sure to download the correct version of Windows 10.

Either way, after Windows 10 installs, you can use your Windows 7 or Windows 8.x product key to activate when you are asked.

Assistive Technologies Offer

Microsoft is offering Windows 10 for free for customers who use "assistive technologies". All you have to do is visit their Accessibility website and hit the "upgrade now" button.

A tool will be downloaded that will help you upgrade your Windows 7 or 8.x machine to Windows 10. The process is the same as last year's free upgrade process. When you download Windows 10 this way, your PC will receive a digital license valid for the life of the device, exactly the same way as if you had taken advantage of last year's offer.

According to the terms, anyone who uses "assistive technologies" qualifies for the upgrade. These technologies can range anywhere from magnifiers and content readers to simply using a high contrast Windows theme or mouse pointer.

Despite the terms being clearly laid out, Microsoft is not checking that whomever downloads Windows 10 this way uses assistive technologies. And despite confusion when this loophole was discovered long ago, Microsoft has not hidden or withdrawn the offer. They also have not specified when it will end.

Reinstall Windows 10

If you took advantage of the free upgrade offer, or you obtained Windows 10 using the methods in this article, you can reinstall Windows 10 on that same machine however many times you'd like without providing a product key. This is because Windows 10 registers your hardware IDs with Microsoft's servers, so that when you reinstall Windows, your hardware is automatically matched with the servers and activated.

Windows 10 also allows you to upgrade various hardware components like RAM or storage devices without requiring reactivation. This is also thanks to the ID matching system.

 

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Last updated December 9, 2019 Views 126,461 Applies to:

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Now on to my next machine, my daughter's Lenovo S10-3 netbook, running Windows 7 Starter.

I let it follow the whole upgrade process as Microsoft designed it by reserving a copy of Windows 10 and waiting for it to prompt me that Windows 10 was ready to install. AS part of this process, the checker tells me

It takes a long time on such a slow machine so I cant be sitting next to it for the whole process.

I have let it try to upgrade twice by following the prompts and once by using the USB.

In all cases, the black installation percentage dial has gone well over 50% and maybe higher and then and then – "Restoring your previous version of Windows" screen appears. If I am not around, ( I went o bed last night), I don't even see this message. This morning I just woke up to a Windows 7 Starter system again.

When my old Windows 7 starter re-boots, the whole automatic background download starts again and then I get asked to commence the upgrade again. Having now had 3 downloads on this one machine, I am not going to bother starting the next upgrade until I can resolve what is preventing this upgrade from happening.

I cant even get the first upgrade to complete to take a clean install option.

Windows Update History shows it failed with error code of C1900101, which indicates some sort of incompatibility. Any ideas about how I can narrow it down.

Now on to my next machine, my daughter's Lenovo S10-3 netbook, running Windows 7 Starter.

I have let it try to upgrade twice by following the prompts and once by using the USB.

In all cases, the black installation percentage dial has gone well over 50% and maybe higher and then and then – "Restoring your previous version of Windows" screen appears.

Windows Update History shows it failed with error code of C1900101, which indicates some sort of incompatibility. Any ideas about how I can narrow it down.

I'm looking into this; some users are experiencing problems that are exceptionally difficult to diagnose because of all the variables associated with the issue.

Thanks for your patience.

Edit: Try this using the USB device to start the upgrade instead of Windows Update:

Uninstall your antivirus, unplug any unnecessary peripherals, disconnect from the Internet entirely, and perform a clean boot. Then, while in the clean boot environment, try starting the upgrade from there. If you need instructions on how to perform a clean boot, see this support page.

I have also been getting the c 1900101-40017 error when trying to do the update through windows update.  I am using a Dell Ispiron 1545 running Windows 7 Home Premium with Service Pack 1. ( as according to my Computer properties)  I have downloaded the Zip file extractor and have extracted the files.  It now says that it is ready to install. Cross your fingers, I've been at this for two days with no luck.  There's got to be a solution!!

Good luck to you ;)

If you do happen to run into the same issue as TimWG, try following the same suggestion I gave him in my last reply and see if that works.

Will It Upgrade my Existing Windows 10 Installation Because I have had not luck With Windows Update or Media Creation Tool.

I have Genuine Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Developer
Geek Viewed

You can give it a try and see what happens. Note that you must perform this from your current Windows 7.

What was the problem that occurred using Windows Update and the MCT and at what stage of the installation?

Did not work for me, still got C1900101-40017 error / I have no avast
Windows Update Stuck at Preparing To Install & MCT showing Something Has Happened Error!
Developer
Geek Viewed
OK, try the method in the article and see if it works.

But why does it tell me: "Uninstall latest preview build" in View Your Update History. Is that a legit final version that upgrades my Windows 8/8.1 key to Windows 10?

And of course does it contain any Spyware? Yeah it is from MS's server... but it's not official.

BTW. This is the only version that installed properly: All other ways would hang on the second reboot.

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