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Support for Windows 7 is over. For security, software updates and other reasons, it’s time to stop procrastinating and make the move to Windows 10.
If you have an older PC or laptop still running Windows 7, you can purchase the Windows 10 Home operating system on Microsoft’s website for $139. But you don’t necessarily have to shell out the cash: A free upgrade offer from Microsoft that technically ended in 2016 still works.
When Windows 10 was first released in July 2015, Microsoft offered an unprecedented free upgrade offer for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users, good through July 2016. But in 2017, users saw that the free upgrade tool was still functional. I tried it out in November 2019, and again in January 2020 and was able to upgrade multiple desktops from Windows 7 Pro to Windows 10 Pro.
Even though January 2020 has passed your Windows 7 computer will keep working, but Microsoft won’t provide security updates or fixes, or technical support for any issues. That means that your computer is at a greater risk from viruses and malware that may circulate and could take advantage of any flaws that are later discovered.
Some people have been hesitant to make the switch due to reports of several bugs in earlier versions of Windows 10. But Microsoft has made several changes to its update approach starting with the May 2019 release, including slower rollouts with additional testing, more options for pausing updates and more disclosure of known issues, so your experience should be smoother.
Here’s how to get Windows 10 for free, if you’re currently running a licensed and activated copy of Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 Home or Pro:
- Go to the Download Windows 10 website.
- Under Create Windows 10 installation media, click Download tool now and Run.
- Choose Upgrade this PC now, assuming this is the only PC you’re upgrading. (If you’re upgrading a different machine, choose Create installation media for another PC, and save the installation files.)
- Follow the prompts.
- When the upgrade is complete, go to Settings Update & Security > Activation, and you should see a digital license for Windows 10.
It should be noted that if you have a Windows 7 or 8 Home license, you can only update to Windows 10 Home, while Windows 7 or 8 Pro can only be updated to Windows 10 Pro (the upgrade is not available for Windows Enterprise. This upgrade using the media creation tool isn’t meant for the general consumer, but it works for many nonetheless.
To get the best Windows 10 experience and take advantage of features like passwordless sign-on through Windows Hello, you’ll want to purchase a new Windows 10 PC (or one released after July 2015) with all the hardware upgrades. If you’re a student or university faculty member, you may also be able to download Windows 10 for free (search for your school’s software offerings here).
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