How to Download Windows 10 for Free

The support for Windows 7 ended more than a year ago, and Microsoft wants holdouts to upgrade to Windows 10 as soon as possible in order to keep devices running securely and smoothly -- particularly before Windows 11 is released during the holidays in 2021. You can upgrade to Windows 11 for free, but only if you're already using Windows 10. (See how to upgrade to Windows 11 and determine if your computer is compatible with the new operating system.) 

You can purchase the Windows 10 Home operating system for $139 (£120, AU$225) on Microsoft's website if you still have an older PC or laptop running Windows 7. Microsoft's free upgrade offer that technically ended in 2016 still works for many users. Since a possible new version of Windows is right around the corner, now may be a good time to make sure you're on the latest version to make any future updates easier. 

When Windows 10 launched in July 2015, Microsoft made an unprecedented offer to Windows 7 and 8 users, which lasted through July 2016. Ed Bott of ZDNet, a sister site of CNET, reported that the free upgrade tool was still functional in 2017. In November 2019, I upgraded a 2014 Dell OptiPlex 9020 desktop from Windows 7 Pro to Windows 10 Pro using it. It is still working for readers today as of June 2021, who have emailed me and commented below.

How to Install Windows 10 on Your PC

Microsoft offers a variety of ways for you to obtain a Windows 10 license for your PC, and many of them are still free.

Upgrade from Windows 7 or 8: 

PC users with accessibility tools still have the option of getting a free Windows 10 upgrade from Microsoft. You can still install Windows 10 and enter a Windows 7 or 8 key in the installer to get a free Windows 10 upgrade license. As soon as you perform the upgrade once, your PC has a perpetual Windows 10 license. If you upgraded to Windows 10 when it was released and downgraded shortly afterward, you are eligible to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Microsoft's servers store a license associated with your PC.

Buy a new PC with Windows 10:

Microsoft often embeds a license key into the UEFI firmware of PCs that ship with Windows 10. You don't need to enter the key when reinstalling Windows 10 on the PC because the manufacturer paid for the license. The installer of Windows 10 will pull the key from a chip on the motherboard.

Purchase a Windows 10 license:

Microsoft offers Windows 10 licenses for purchase through their website, just as Windows licenses from previous versions of Windows were. However, if you build your own PC without an operating system, you must purchase the license from them.

Don’t get a license:

Windows 10 can also be installed without entering a product key. Windows 10 will display a message telling you it isn't licensed and needs to be activated, but it will still be fully functional. It is even possible to purchase a Windows 10 license within Windows 10 to make it a properly licensed Windows 10 PC. Windows 10 can be tested on a PC without having to purchase it.

To install Windows 10, go to one of the following sections when you know which method is going to work for you.

How to Download Windows 10 for Free

Microsoft has made Windows 10 available both officially and unofficially ever since it launched. On July 29, 2016, you were no longer able to upgrade or download Windows 10. A license for the OS can still be downloaded unofficially. According to Microsoft, even in 2021, the free upgrade offer for Windows 10 will still be valid, and there's no fooling around.

Microsoft's first big push to convince customers to upgrade to Windows 10 was marred by aggressive tactics as the campaign went on, so much so that it was both accused of malware tactics and later admitted to them. It's impossible to know how many people didn't update simply because of the company's behavior, but some readers had reported disgust at the time and refused to update.

Windows 10 has been widely adopted over the years, but if you haven't upgraded, there are a few legal options available to you. If you previously purchased a legal copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can still upgrade to Windows 10. For a legal copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8, visit this Microsoft page to download Windows 10. If you upgrade the PC, Microsoft will update the license for you automatically.

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