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Thread: Windows 10 for (essentially) free

  1. #1
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    So, in the blog post today, there was 'deal' where you could buy Windows 10 for $9.11 from TWED... Although $9 isnt really a lot of money, it's still (almost) the price of two burger combos at Harvey's right now... or two Whopper Meals at Burger King. So save your 9 bucks for lunch for two...

    This is otherwise a pretty good deal IF you are building a custom built PC from scratch, and you don't currently already hold a license for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 .

    If, on the other hand, you ALREADY own a PC* with a legal and activated license for Windows 7 or 8 AND you are planning to upgrade, or even install Windows 10 fresh on that PC, there is absolutely no need to spend any money on it... not $199, not $99, not even $9... and THIS IS LEGITIMATE.

    (*the term PC refers to any desktop or laptop computer capable of running Windows 7 and above operating system)

    [Just a preamble: I work in the IT industry, and I deal with this on a daily basis.... so I'm not talking out of my rear-end here... and I work in a field where legality and legitimacy of licensing is of the utmost importance, so I'm not here to lead you down a dark path. ]

    Microsoft would like to see the masses migrate to Windows 10 as much as possible, so they've allowed for anyone with a current license to Windows 7 or Windows 8 a forward-compatible license to activate Windows 10. I'll lay out the various scenarios here where you qualify for this forward-compatible upgrade. While originally promoted as being available anyone who upgraded within the first 12 months of Windows 10's original release, the forward licensing is still a completely valid option and it's been nearly 2 years.

    In the next panel, I'll briefly describe what's technically required for various Windows 10 install options for you.

    If you built your own PC or had a local mom & pop shop build one for you, and they provided you with a legal Windows 7 or Windows 8 (usually a sticker affixed to the outside of the PC with a cryptic Product key on it). (usually an OEM licesnse). Then you qualify for Windows 10.

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    (The colour and layout may vary, but they all resemble this in some fashion. Windows 8 product key labels are often more colourful.)

    Also if you bought and paid for a full retail copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8 at some point, you also qualify. Your license label is probably a lot more flashy than they sample above... however MOST people have an OEM copy as they come shipped with 95% of computers out there.

    If this sounds like what you have on your PC right now, then you have no need to pay for Windows 10.

    OWNERS OF BRANDED PC's (think Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo, etc)
    Like above, if you have a license sticker attached, then you qualify for Windows 10. (If it's a laptop, SOME manufacturers stick this under the battery... so check under there as well.) -- If you do not have a license code per-se, but rather a "Windows 8" sticker resembling the below example, then it means your manufacturer has an embedded "digital license" as part of the system's firmware which ALSO automatically permits you to use Windows 10 as well. You might not have a code to enter, but that's of no concern (see the next panel).

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    (this only exists on Windows 8 embedded/digital license PCs)

    If this sounds like what you have on your PC right now, then you TOO have no need to pay for Windows 10.

    Those exceptions are licenses and Product codes that denote use for "refurbished PCs" and specifically for Educational use. Your Product key label will identify as such. Depending on the licensing provision from Microsoft for this use, they may or may not qualify you for a Windows 10 upgrade.

    Also, those with an Enterprise edition of Windows do not qualify. However, if you're using an Enterprise edition of windows at home you're either a.) doing so illegally as Enterprise licenses are sold to corporations for their internal use or b.) your computer is owned by the company you work for, and THEY will have to license your edition of Windows. That being said, if you have the Enterprise edition, then either the label on your PC isn't your actual license... OR you don't have the product key label at all. Either way, Enterprise editions don't qualify here.

    The one other thing to make note of here is that you can only install the comparable edition of Windows 10 that your current Windows 7 or Windows 8 license is valid for. So if you have Windows 7 or 8 Professional, then you can install Windows 10 Professional as well. If you have a Home edition of Windows 7 or 8, then you can only install the HOME edition of Windows 10.
    (Less popular is the Windows 7 Media Center edition... that qualifies you for Windows 10 HOME).

    And dont get hung up about Home versus Pro. The OS does NOT run any better/faster/smarter because of the Pro moniker vs. Home. On Windows 10 there is very little functional difference for the home user. (Home edition means you cant join a domain, you cant form group policies among your 'domain' PCs, you cant run device guard, Bit locker, nor Microsoft Remote Desktop services. Again, 99% of the time they're features you've never heard of, nor will require at home. (if you want to do remote desktop stuff, get TeamViewer)

    Also, the licenses for 32 and 64 bit are interchangeable.

    This thread is currently associated with: Burger King, Dell, Harvey's, Microsoft
    Last edited by bhlombardy; Fri, May 12th, 2017 at 04:15 PM.
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  2. #2
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    So, once you've determined that your license qualifies you for a free upgrade to Windows 10.... here's how to go about it:
    (I'm cutting a LOT out here, this is meant for people who can already handle installing an Operating System, and just want to know how to get their Windows 10 licensed properly... this is NOT a step-by-step guide to installing Windows for the non-tech savvy)


    Regardless of HOW you plan to install Windows 10 (via the upgrade path, or do a clean install) you should begin by downloading the Media Creation Tool from Microsoft. -- While the tool remains basically the same over time, the install media it creates changes periodically based on the current revision of the operating system. I would suggest you download the Media Creation Tool just prior to you putting it to use (eg. don't download it now, and wait 6 months to install Windows 10.)

    Download the tool, and run it, and follow the instructions to make either a bootable thumb drive, or burn to DVD-R media suitable for your needs.

    If you're upgrading on the same PC currently running a valid version of Windows, you must ensure your Windows 7 and 8 are up to date first. Windows 7 users will require that you have Service Pack 1... and Windows 8 users must upgrade to Windows 8.1. You can verify your version by going to Control Panel and selecting System and reading the details. If Windows 7 doesnt say "Service Pack 1" or SP1 in the System Properties, then SP1 is not installed. Likewise, on Windows 8, if it doesnt specifically say Windows 8.1, then it's not. In both cases, Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and the upgrade to Windows 8.1 are available through Windows Update. -- Also, while you're on the screen, this would also be a good time to verify if you have the Home or Professional edition installed (or perhaps one of the other editions that might disqualify you)... you will probably be asked during the Windows 10 install which edition, and as noted, it has to match the edition for your current license... so take note of it while you're here.

    Once you're are up to date, then you can proceed with the Windows 10 upgrade. If you're running the upgrade from within the desktop of your current PC, you will not need your license key to perform the upgrade in this manner... if it happens to ask for it, there is an option to "skip" or "I do not have a key" and the install will complete and *should* inherit the key after the upgrade. (you can verify this in a later step below when you check your activation)

    Same as above, your Windows 7/8 need to be up to date to SP1 or 8.1 first. Running an Upgrade by booting from the Media (USB or DVD) is essentially no different than updating from within the OS, but typically runs faster. Again, if it asks for a license key during the install, select SKIP or I DO NOT HAVE A KEY and it will proceed, inheriting the key after the upgrade is complete.

    FRESH INSTALL OF WINDOWS 10 (on your currently licensed PC)
    You'll want to do this if you want to completely blow away your current configuration and start from scratch. Either you want to use a different hard drive, or you just want the peace of mind that none of your issues from Windows 7 or 8 are going to haunt you moving forward to Windows 10. Whatever your reason, you're welcome to do it this way as well. (this is my preferred method, ALWAYS.)

    Boot with the media you created earlier... (either the USB drive or DVD). When it asks about upgrading or new install, obviously select the new install. When prompted for the hard drive configuration, I would delete any partitions from your boot hard-drive to ensure nothing lingers from the old version of Windows.

    You will PROBABLY be asked which edition to install (Pro, Home, Education, etc). If asked be SURE to pick the same edition as your current Windows 7/8 License is valid for, or you wont be able to activate it later.

    NOTE: If you have a UEFI based PC, and/or an embedded license, then often times, the installer wont even ask the edition to install. It's already determined the edition from the embedded digital license, so dont be surprised if you arent asked.

    AS ABOVE... if it asks for a license key, select SKIP or I DO NOT HAVE A LICENSE KEY.... the method for activating will differ depending on your PC and how it's currently licensed.

    Once the OS is installed then you're going to need to verify it's activation. To check the activation status, click the Windows Start button and when the menu appears just type the word "ACTIVATION" and hit Enter. This will instantly bring up the Activation screen... see further:

    - On Branded PCs with the digital/embedded license (ie: those with a UEFI firmware). The activation to Windows 10 is automatic. You're done. and it should say "Windows is activated with a digital license" -- Piece of cake right?

    - On OEM / Home built PCs / non-embedded licenses. Once on the activation screen, if it inherited the license due to your upgrade, then it should already state "Windows is activated." If it didnt inherit the license, or you did a fresh install, then this screen might indicate that Windows 10 is NOT activated. If so there will be a link present to Activate Windows Now (the vernacular may have changed since I did this last). but click the link and type in the Product Key from your label affixed to your PC and click activate. -- note you MUST be connected online for this to work, so be sure your internet is active... or take whatever measures you must to get online or Windows 10 will not activate.

    Whatever your case, entering the key here is validated online by Microsoft, and you're golden. As noted earlier, license tags that indicate "for refurbished PCs" or "education" licenses may or may not be validated as active licenses for Windows 10 forward-licensing.

    Last edited by bhlombardy; Fri, May 12th, 2017 at 04:13 PM.
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