The Microsoft Windows 10 Free Upgrade Offer is complete – or is it? It is still possible to activate Windows 10 with a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 key, in addition to Microsoft's accessibility offering.
Update: We originally wrote this article in 2016, but this upgrade tip still works in 2019!
You can still use an old key with the birthday update
As part of November update of Windows 10Microsoft has modified the Windows 10 Setup disc to also accept Windows 7 or 8.1 keys. This allowed users to perform a fresh install of Windows 10 and enter a valid Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 key during installation. Windows 10 would then report this key to Microsoft's servers and the Windows 10 activation servers would give your PC a "digital right" (now a "digital license") allowing it to continue using Windows 10 for free, as if you had upgraded.
It also works from Windows 10. Even if you do not provide a key during the installation process, you can go to Settings> Update & Security> Activation and enter a Windows 7 or 8.1 key here instead of a Windows key 10. Your PC will receive a digital right.
Now, even if the free upgrade offer is technically complete, this method still works in the opposite case. Anniversary update, either when installing Windows 10 with Anniversary Update support, or by entering the key after installing Windows 10. Enter a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 key that has not been used before to upgrade to level to 10, and Microsoft servers will indicate the hardware of your PC. a new digital license allowing you to continue using Windows 10 indefinitely on this PC.
Microsoft has not released any statements regarding this upgrade method. It is possible that Microsoft will disable it soon, but it is also possible that Microsoft is diverting this ploy to encourage more upgrades to Windows 10 for many years.
How to use a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 key to get Windows 10
This process is easy. First, you will need a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 key. If you have one of those hanging around, great. If you do not do it, you can use a tool like ProduKey from NirSoft to find the key currently used on your Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 PC. Write it.
Make sure you have backups of your important files before continuing. Even if you plan to perform an upgrade installation, something may go wrong. It is always good to have backups, especially when installing a new operating system.
Create a Windows 10 installation media if you do not already have it. You can do it with Microsoft Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. Select "Create an installation media for another PC" and the tool will suggest you to create a bootable USB flash drive or burn a bootable DVD.
Insert the installation media into the computer you want to upgrade, reboot, and start from the installation media. Install Windows 10 normally. You can perform an upgrade installation by keeping your existing files or a new installation that will clean your system drive.
When prompted for a key, enter the Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 key. The installer will accept this key and the installation process will continue normally.
(If you are using a Windows 8 or 8.1 system with the product key embedded in your system's UEFI firmware or BIOS, you can also click "I do not have a product key." Windows 10 should automatically search for the key in your UEFI firmware later and activate your system.)
After installing Windows 10, go to Settings> Update & Security> Activation and you should see that your PC has a digital license.
If you did not enter a key during installation, you can enter a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 key directly in this window when you are prompted for a Windows 10 key. Windows will connect to the servers from Microsoft and give your PC a digital license for Windows 10.
It's so simple. If you want to reinstall Windows 10 later, you should be able to use the same Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 key that you entered here. This key will be associated with a "digital license" on Microsoft servers, allowing you to continue reinstalling Windows 10 even if Microsoft disables this method of acquiring Windows 10.
You can also connect to your new PC with a Microsoft account. This key will be associated with your Microsoft account, which will make it easier to reactivate your digital license if you need to reinstall Windows 10 later.