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How to upgrade to Windows 10 and get your new licence key

07/30/2015

Windows 7 and Windows 8 users can get Windows 10 for free, here's how to upgrade and avoid any pitfalls

Although Microsoft is letting every Windows 7 and 8 user upgrade to Windows 10 for free, provided they register within one year of Windows 10’s release on 29th July 2015, the upgrade system is, unfortunately, a little bit more complicated than you may have first thought. So, before we take you through how to claim your upgrade, it's worth going through some of the restrictions first. We'll also show you how to get your new Windows 10 licence key, so that you perform a fresh installation of Windows 10.

Upgrade restrictions 

The main restriction is that the free upgrade from Window 7 or 8 to Windows 10 is listed as being for  the "supported lifetime of the device". Unfortunately, we don't know what this means and Microsoft hasn't currently elborated, although it has stated that the lifetime will vary by device type, with two to four years being quoted. This may mean that after Microsoft's defined 'lifetime' you may have to pay for upgrades, but we don't know for sure until launch day.

What we do know is that the type of licence you have for your current version of Windows remains after you upgrade to Windows 10. So, if your computer shipped with a copy of Windows, you'll have an OEM licence, which means that you can't transfer the operating system to a new computer. This restriction will stay in place when you upgrade to Windows 10. It also means that if your computer has major components changed, such as the motherboard, Windows 10 will need to be reactivated, which will most likely require you to buy a new licence; it has been possible in the past with OEM versions to talk to Microsoft and have the software reactivated for free, provided there's a good reason for the hardware change, such as a fault requiring the replacement of a component.

If you bought a retail version of Windows 7 or 8 things are different, as this version is transferable to a new computer. This will stay true after you upgrade to Windows 10, so you'll be able to install the new operating system on a new computer, although you will have to delete it from your existing computer. This is great news for anyone that's looking to build a new PC for Windows 10, as it means that they can use their existing retail copy of Windows 7 or 8.

Before you can claim your upgrade, you also need to upgrade to the latest version of your current OS. This will be Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1, both of which are available through Windows Update. Finally, you need to check that your computer is capable of running Windows 10 (see Step 2 of our how to upgrade guide.)

Performing a clean install of Windows 10

Once you’ve upgraded a computer to Windows 10, you’ll be able to perform a clean installation of the operating system, as Microsoft has made an ISO of the operating system available for download. You’ll be able to use our how to install a clean version of Windows 10 instructions to turn this ISO into a bootable DVD or USB flash drive. Before you do that, you'll need to get your brand new Windows 10 licence key, which we show you how to get in Step 4 of the walkthrough below.

Boxed copies

If you're not eligible for the upgrade, or you want another copy of Windows 10, you’ll need to buy a copy of the software. Windows 10 will be available as boxed software and should be available to buy as a download, too. These versions of Windows 10 will work like traditional boxed copies of previous versions of Windows, where you’ll be able to install the OS on a computer of your choice, and reinstall it when you build a new model.

Upgrade versions

If you're upgrading from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10, the table below shows you the version of Windows 10 that you'll get. Note that it is possible to upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro at a later date, should you want to (see below for more information).

Retail versions

If you can't get the upgrade and need to buy a copy of Windows 10, you'll need to buy the retail version, which will be available as boxed software and as a download. You'll also be able to buy a Windows 10 Pro pack, which will upgrade the Home edition of the operating system to the Pro version.

How to claim your free Windows 10 upgrade

With the complicated bits out of the way, we can get on with how you claim your free upgrade. As Windows 10 is now available and you can upgrade to the new operating system right now - presuming you’re running a valid version of Windows 7 or Windows 8 (see above), you can also upgrade from a pre-release version of Windows 10. If you booked an upgrade with the Get Windows 10 tool then this will be rolled out shortly, however you can force the upgrade using a manual tool.

These steps can be followed from now up until one year after Windows 10 is officially launched on the 29th July.

Step 1 - Make sure you're running the latest version of your OS

First, run Windows Update from the Control Panel and make sure that your computer is up to date and running the latest service packs: you need Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 installed in order to upgrade to Windows 10.

Step 2 - Download the upgrade tool

Get the Windows 10 upgrade tool. You can download both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the tool, so make sure to get the one that matches your current operating system. You can find out which you have by simply typing ‘System’ into the Start Screen on Windows 8 and selecting that options, or by clicking the Start button in Windows 7, right-click Computer and select Properties. Download the correct tool and then run it from your browser or the downloads folder.

While you're waiting for that to download we recommend that you use Belarc Advisor to find out your Windows product key/CD key. This way you've got the original key to hand should you ever need it later on. This bit of software gives you all kinds of information about your computer, including your product key. Once installed, launch Belarc Advisor. You can ignore the prompt about Administrator privileges, as they're not needed. You'll need to agree to the UAC prompt, and don't worry about downloading the new Belarc security definitions. Belarc Advisor will now analyse your computer and produce a local web page with the information it finds. Your version of Windows and its product key will appear towards the bottom of the page. You should copy and paste this into Notepad and save it. It’s worth copying this text file to an external location, just in case something goes wrong with the upgrade and you need to reinstall your original Windows.

Step 3 - Install the upgrade

The upgrade tool will ask you if you want to upgrade this PC or create an installation ISO for another PC. Choose the option to ‘Upgrade this PC now’ and the tool will start downloading Windows 10. This may take some time as demand is high for the new operating system. Once you've finished downloading the operating system simply follow the instructions to upgrade.

Step 4 - Get your new licence key

After your computer has upgraded to Windows 10 it will have a new licence key. You'll need this if you want to perform a clean installation of Windows 10, as you can't input your existing Windows 7 or 8 code into the installation routine. To get your key fire up Belarc Advisor as above, let it perform its analysis, and find the product key in the results page - in the current version of Belarc (8.4), it is listed under 'Windows 8.1'. It's a good idea to copy and paste this key into Notepad and save it somewhere safe.

Original Source: http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/software/operating-systems/1403593/how-to-upgrade-to-windows-10-and-get-your-new-licence-key

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