Upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or 8.1 - for free
How to Upgrade Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10 - free!
Notes: This updated content (@ 2019) is based on the most recent public release of Windows 10, version 1809 released to the public on October 13, 2018.
During 2017, Microsoft offered a 'free upgrade' to Windows 10 for users on Windows 7 and 8. That "free offer" option ended on the 31st December 2017.
What qualifies for a update to Windows 10?
The good news is that even in 2019 (last tested on April 2019) you can still upgrade to Windows 10 on a device that has (or access to) a valid license for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 (it can be Home Premium or Pro). You can download the required installation files (as an ISO) and run the Setup program from within Windows or use the Upgrade Assistant available from Microsoft's accessibility page. See the Microsoft link here for the download section for Windows 10.
What does not qualify:
Desktops and Laptops that have a product key (license) to run the now outdated Windows XP or Windows Vista are not eligible for any type upgrade to Windows 10. In this scenario the only option is to purchase Windows 10.
Where can I download Windows 10?
You can use the download link here.
You have a Windows 7 or Windows 8 Product Key
If you already have a Windows 7 product key (very likely if you have a few older computer about the house - see image above) or you are planning to reinstall Windows 10 on a machine that already has a valid (activated) Windows 7, use the Get Windows 10 download page and download the ISO or use the Media Creation Tool. The download can be a bootable USB flash drive or an bootable DVD (ISO).
If you are using the Media Creation Tool, choose Create installation media for another PC. By default, the options will choose the version that matches the current PC doing the browse and download. Clear the check box shown here if you want to choose a different version, such as downloading the x86 (32-bit) version on a 64-bit PC (x64).
Clear this box to download a specific Windows 10 version.
The ISO file for an x86 (32-bit) edition of Windows 10 is approximately 3.6 GB in size. The x64 (64-bit) edition is approximately 5.1 GB in size.
So what is the most recent Windows 10 version?
Microsoft released Windows 10 version 1809 (codenamed Redstone 5 : OS build 17763) to the public on October 13, 2018. The two previous versions were Version 1803 (April 30, 2018 Update) and version 1709 (Fall Creators Update October 17, 2017).
For Windows 10 update History see this link.
For a full listing of release dates for major versions of windows 10, see the official Microsoft release information page.
Notes: Each major Windows 10 release is associated with a build number. The Windows 10 1809 release is build 17763.439 (Microsoft Recommended).
You can check which version of Windows 10 is installed on any your device by Settings > System > About. Another method is to enter winver in the run dialog and view the result in the "About Windows" dialog box.
The image shown below indicates the device is running Windows 10 Version 1809, with the build 17763.437, and it was installed on 24/04/2019.
The current version of Windows 10 (as of April 2019) is Microsoft version 1809 OS build 17763. If your device is running an older version of Windows 10, you can use the Windows 10 Update Assistant to get the latest version. Simply use this Windows 10 Download page and click Update Now to begin the process to upgrade.
Use the Update Assistant to manually download and install the latest Windows 10 feature update.
This event downloads a small pre-installation file that runs a compatibility check and then, once the device passes the compatibility tests, it begins the full upgrade.
Upgrading a existing Windows 7 or 8 device
If you upgrade over a activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you can simply run Setup from within your current Windows installation and you will not be prompted to enter a product key. After the upgrade is complete, your new copy of Windows 10 will be activated with what Microsoft calls a valid "digital license".
Upgrading over a valid Windows 7 or 8 sytem will allow you to retain nearly all of your programs and data intact.
The only notable point if to consider upgrading any MS Office installation older than 2013 to a later version. It has been found that while the older Word 2007 runs well enough under Windows 10, Outlook 2007 or 2010 do have some known usabilty issues with the newer OS. Other than this, you should findmost of your original programs remain intact.
Note that some printer drivers may need updating to restore full operation with Windows 10.
Performing a clean installation
If you choose to use the bootable installation Windows 10 media to perform a clean install on a computer that was previously upgraded to Windows 10, you are not required to enter a product key, so when you see the prompt to enter the a key, you may click the Skip this step option (thought enter the original Windows 7 key it if you wish).
Notes: On a Windows system that received a Windows 10 digital license as part of its earlier upgrade (during the "Windows 10 for free" period of 2017), Windows 10 will be automatically activated after the installation is complete.
If you are using bootable installation media to perform a clean install on a PC that has never been upgraded to Windows 10 and activated, you will need to enter the Windows 7 or 8 product key.
Notes: Beginning with the Windows 10 build 10586 (released November 10, 2015), you can enter a product key from a matching edition of Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1.
After the activation is complete, you can continue to perform a clean install using the Windows 10 installation media.
Checking the Windows 10 Activation
To check the activation status of a Windows 10 device, use Settings > Update & security > Activation.
After a some basic questions at the beginning of the upgrade, the remaining Windows 10 upgrade process can be left run completely unattended. This part of the process will likely require about 5 - 8 hours.
Can I upgrade Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro?
Yes you can. Apply the upgrade using a spare product key from an earlier Pro edition of Windows, such as Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro, or Windows 8.1 Pro. Then follow the instructions given earlier (see this link).
Final Setup of Windows 10
After the basic installation completes you will be presented with the out-of-box-experience (OOBE) to finalize the Windows 10 setup.
Now you will be presented with the new Cortana assistant
Then the privacy settings are shown explicitly, with brief explanations of what they do.
For your personal privacy sake I would use the following recommended privacy settings
The one privacy setting that cannot be turned off completely is the MS Diagnostics (unless you have a Enterprise Windows 10). Regardless, such diagnostics allows Microsoft to collect data on app performance and crashes, and this data can be used to correct issues with Windows, apps, drivers, and this is useful. You can, however, choose basic or full diagnostics.
Now you will see the Windows 10 desktop along with new features included with Windows 10.