In November of 2017, Microsoft quietly announced it was shutting down its free Windows 10 upgrade program. If you didn’t get your free version of its best operating system to date, well, you were pretty much out of luck. Or, so we thought.
Recently I learned that Windows 10 updates still work just as they always had, and I’m currently running a version on a pieced together PC after upgrading from a working version of Windows 8.1. It’s not as cut and dry, as Microsoft has deleted the tool that makes all of our lives simpler when upgrading, but with a tiny bit of work you too can upgrade older versions of Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 to a fully-functioning version of Windows 10.
1. Find a copy of Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 as you’ll need the key later. If you don’t have one lying around, but it’s currently installed on your system, a free tool like NirSoft’s ProduKey can pull the product key from software currently running on your PC.
2. This is a good stop to pause and back up anything you’d like to save on your current PC before continuing.
3. From here, you’ll need to create a Windows 10 installer by going here and then configuring the installer (Create installation media for another PC) with your desired hardware. Use ISO file if you plan to burn it to a DVD or USB flash drive if you’d rather install it from a USB device. You’ll also need to select 32 or 64 bit versions of Windows.
4. Insert the installation media, restart the computer and then press F2 to create a different boot priority. This will allow the USB flash drive (or DVD) to run before booting into the operating system. This will be slightly different on all PCs, depending on their BIOS setup, but it’s pretty cut and dry — select the drive or the DVD to boot before the main HDD or SDD.
5. Reboot your computer one more time.
6. After the installation runs, you’ll be asked to provide your key. Enter it here and click Next.