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Windows 10 upgrade is still free if you have a valid Windows 7 or 8.1 product key

People who still want to get Windows 10 for free can take advantage of a loophole that allows users to get the OS if they already have a valid product key for Windows 7 or 8.1.

Officially, Microsoft's free one-year offer to let Windows 7 or 8.1 PCs get a free Windows 10 upgrade expired on July 29. However, ZDNet reports that many users have installed the OS simply by providing their older keys for Windows 7 or 8.1.

The report states:

Users have been able to both kick off and activate Windows 10 on machines where they've previously installed Windows 10, as well as on machines where they've never installed Windows 10 using their Windows 7/8.X product keys.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley got a statement from Microsoft on this loophole:

"Users upgrading their PC for the first time will need to enter a Windows 10 product key. Users who've previously installed Windows 10 on their PC should activate successfully with a digital entitlement when reinstalling Windows 10 on that PC."

So far, there's no word on when, or even if, Microsoft will close this loophole.

Meanwhile, it appears that Microsoft's other free Windows 10 offer, which is only supposed to be for people who use assistive technologies on their PC, could also be a while to get around the expired offer. The download client does not check to see if your older PC uses that kind of software. We asked Microsoft about this and got this statement from a spokesperson:

As we shared earlier, we've extended the free upgrade offer for those who use assistive technology as we continue to make accessibility improvements to Windows 10, including many coming in the Anniversary Update, which is available after the free upgrade offer ends. You may see the Microsoft Accessibility blog here for more details.We are not restricting the free upgrade offer to specific assistive technologies. If you use assistive technology on Windows, you are eligible for the free upgrade offer. That said, it is not intended to be a workaround for people who don't use assistive technology and who missed the deadline for the free offer.

In other words, while Microsoft isn't checking to see if this offer is in fact being used by the right audience, they also don't want it used by everyone else who still wants to upgrade. There's no word yet on when Microsoft might end this offer.

The bottom line is that there are still ways to get the Windows 10 upgrade for free, but they could end at any time. So if you hesitated to join in before the official offer expired, you might not have much time before these avenues are also closed off.

116 Comments
  • I wouldn't blame MSFT.. They are trying their best to get the maximum numbers of users on W10. :)
  • I totally agree
  • Total opposite for M edition though. No constant nagging to upgrade or stealth upgrades. Not even upgrade via normal update. Total silence. As if Nadella doesn't want W10M users.
  • 'stealth upgrade' always makes me lol. You set the computer to install recommended upgrades, it will install a recommended upgrade. Le gasp!
  • Ya never know what you're gonna get. Lol!
  • For consumers, I think one year to take the decision on the upgrade should be enough.
  • I purchased a Dell Laptop last year which came with 8.1 and it has been upgraded to Anniversary update, however I just discovered my old Acer Aspire TImeline laptop from 2010 with Ubuntu died, so I still have the recovery factory DVD's with Windows 7 license, so actually I'm going to take advantage of this loophole since I need Linux for this computer and I found it to be very good and stable in the WIndows 10 Anniversary release.
  • Only one year? Heck I'm still trying to make up my mind between Bluray & HD DVD.
  • BetaMax or VHS? Laserdisc or DVD?
  • BetaMax and Laserdisc is all I use
  • http://www.thinkgeek.com/stuff/41/betamaxhd.html
  • I recently decided on picking up a MiniDisc player myself.
  • CED.... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • The blue pill or the red
  • Hahahaha, which is literally EVERYONE who bought a PC with Windows 7 or 8. There's no way they'll make it difficult to install this spyware and soon-to-be adware: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cJklkPMj-k&ab_channel=BruceNaylor
  • Lol, if you're worried about Microsoft gathering information, you should know it doesn't contain PII data so they don't know your name, your address, phone, email, etc, all they're doing is anonymizing data to do analytics to find and discover bugs.  You don't know nothing about privacy encryption methods, so if you don't have something else to say, please avoid making those comments in WC.
  • Lol, so much blind faith there. They have access to your full hard drive with WIndows 10, that's their terms of service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DY_FWpr8BX8&ab_channel=OpenMicNight If you think your name and other personal information isn't anywhere on your computer, it probably ain't your computer.
  • under privacy and diagnostics if you set FULL for troubleshooting purposes, yes they will have full access including what programs you run etc.. But that's reserved for troubleshooting scenarios. If you set basic then the data is very specific to os integrity. You can read up the info online if you click on more information in that section. By law they can't do what you are saying if you set it to basic.
  • "under privacy and diagnostics if you set FULL for troubleshooting purposes, yes they will have full access including what programs you run etc" Again, that's not what it states in their terms of service, stop making delusional excuses. It states and I quote: "We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to." Where TF do you get the idea that you're in control from that statement?
  • And that's the same for every os, even windows 7. IOS, android too. But please link me to the official terms and the paragraph because people often misinterpret out of context.
  • Here you go, it's under the "Reasons We Share Personal Data" section: https://privacy.microsoft.com/en-us/privacystatement/
  • Read the full thing. "with your authorization". Nothing about having access to local files either.
  • Just did a ctrl-f on your "quoted" statement in the W10 TOS, came up with nothing. More fondling brought up that there is no mention of "Personal Data", "content", "email", or even "good faith". Searching "Files" brought up just one mention, about Windows sound files being applicable to the terms. And finally, the only mention of "private" is with "private attorney-general actions" tl;dr: I'd like some of what you're on
  • They really did a good job in hiding it from blind followers. If you don't bother to click "Learn More", you'll never get the full story...
  • Right and website complain about things like key logger. This is a setting that you set to allow ms to gather days to improve suggestions etc. It excludes password fields,etc and can be turned off. Basically out of context. The terms are based on what level if settings you have. It's the default setting, sure, but privacy conscious people can change it. I turned It off on my pc . I keep it on mobile because it does help with word flow.
  • You provide a quote, yet no source. The video you're getting that info from, displays no source. Come back when you have the actual quote and a link to where it comes from. Just saying it's part of a document doesn't mean a damn thing. Especially when doing a search of the service agreement that I can find at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/servicesagreement does not contain the words you quote.
  • They really did a good job in hiding it from blind followers. If you don't bother to click "Learn More", you'll never get the full story...idiot.
  • The word Learn is not even on that page so I'm not sure what you'd like me to click. As I said, provide a link. You obviously see it. I mean there's no way you blinly follow what someone says on youtube right?
  • Right, thanks for confirming you're too dumb to realize it's prvacy related and follow the link in the privacy section...
  • Right, because it's not on you to provide proper sources. I'm supposed to search the web for what you're trying to explain. BTW, nothing said in there says full access to your hard drive. You again have no clue what you're talking about.
  • You already linked to the source, if you actually care about it instead of merely having blind faith in microsoft, you'd read what you linked to...
  • The only "hard drive" they get access to is your files on OneDrive. Open up your conspiracy theory addled eyes and read the terms for yourself, instead of believing everything you read on the internet.    
  • Everything Microsoft does or do is negative to you guys , what the hell is wrong with you guys , keep given negative trolls about Windows
  • MrElectrifyer, you're so right! I checked the link you provided in your earlier post (https://privacy.microsoft.com/en-us/privacystatement/ for those who couldn't see it in your message) and I counted no fewer than 27 instances of the word 'Learn'. Of those, 24 are direct links to additional information about privacy and data collection. So many fanbois on this forum refuse to accept that MS collects data about users and hands it over to third parties, whether or not you have authorised it. These are the same people who will claim that Google sells yoour data. Google does NOT sell your data, not give it away to third parties. But these buffoons can't accept the reality that Microsoft will not hold back when it comes to using your data to make money.  
  • And of course you can back that up with facts right? You can provide examples of Microsoft selling data? You can prove Google doesn't make money off your data?
  • Careful choice of words, I note. I never claimed that Google doesn't make money 'off' (I think you mean 'from') my data. I said they don't provide it to 3rd parties. Nor did I say Microft sells your data to 3rd companies. I said they hand it over. Not the same. Perhaps you need to have a look at this news report; some very interesting information there: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/08/04/microsoft_adds_enterprise_produc...
  • Just a few quick things on google. Google’s illegal “wi-spy” program of collecting user data over home wi-fi hubs using its Street View cars has led to investigations and fines for violations of the law in countries around the world.  Investigators were outraged when they reviewed the downloaded data and found Google had collected massive amounts of personal emails and data revealing everything from people’s medical histories to their sexual preference to marital infidelity.  As part of a potentially explosive lawsuit making its way through federal court, the giant online-services provider Google has acknowledged scanning the contents of millions of email messages sent and received by student users of the company's Apps for Education tool suite for schools. This issue isn’t new to Google. In congressional testimony in 2009, Google’s lawyers said its email technology was used for scanning for spam, computer viruses and serving ads “within the Gmail user’s experience.” But last fall, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh held that Google never told Gmail users that Google would create personal profiles and target users with ads. Nor did people who are not Gmail users, but who were writing to Gmail addresses, agree to let Google collect and parse their messages.
  • Tell you a story; in 11 years having a Live/Ms-account, the information I gave was NEVER given to third parties to contact me. Three weeks into having a Google-account, I regularly get mails from third parties. Google making 67 billion $ out of selling and misusing data is a plain fact. How could I tell? Because I introduce small errors into my data to track down such things.
  • Google making 67 billion $ out of selling and misusing data is a plain fact. Source?
  • The third party data is related to the advertising id. Also additional data is used for things like net market share and data on usage of apps, games, hours spent, etc. The info is anonymous . That's how they know how many hours were spent on gaming etc. This info can be provided to developers to convince them to invest.
  • Here's the rest of this guy's "quote" if you're interested: "...when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to:" (notice the colon I found) "1. comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process, including from law enforcement or other government agencies;
    2. protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud users of our products, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury of anyone;
    3. operate and maintain the security of our products, including to prevent or stop an attack on our computer systems or networks; or
    4. protect the rights or property of Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of the services - however, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer's private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement."  
  • Alot of articles are doing the exact samething for clicks. They don't tell you the rest of the story.
    https://privacy.microsoft.com/en-us/privacystatement/
  • You say its blind faith that we believe MS aren't failing privacy standards required by nearly all countries they operate in, but you use YouTube as your source for "factual information" (which honestly, with how easy it is to make a video, YouTube as a source of info is like going onto Yahoo Answers to find true facts). And you say we have blind faith? Kinda ironic don't you think?
  • There's a difference between making claims with sources available to back it (in this case, it's the terms of service), and making claims out of merely blind beleifs.
  • That's not in the terms i searched it. There are some things people cry about on websites such as key logger. And yes things like that exist to provide better typing experience. It's something you can turn off. I will agree that it should not be a default setting, and ms should change that and simply offer it when you use the on screen keyboard. But that's the worst thing even though it's configurable.
  • So much blind faith here, you guys really need to learn to click that "Learn More" link...
  • Time to move to the arctic and go off grid.
  • Or simply move to Linux...
  • What's ironic is this guys probably typing this on a os that does the same thing he's ******** about lmao
  • Oh I'm sorry, maybe I should pull a Yahoo Answers source up, as obviously as long as its an extremely unreliable, biased video source, it must mean its true and everyone who disagrees with it are idiots. Damn you're so narrow minded. And you called me the typical idiot? (You may have edited it out now, but I saw the email I received with the original message) Wow not only are you being the narrow-minded, who can't even read some terms and conditions without spurring conspiracy's based on biased sources, you're also hypocritical! Nice!
    (just so you understand what I mean. So here's an example. I could make a video right now, show terms and conditions of a random company, twist their words and word vomit lie after lie, and then put it on youtube, but just because its on the internet, does that make it true? No. Of course not. But of course you seem to think otherwise. Jumping on the video like "They say its true, I must believe them!" And can't even pull up any actual reliable links that prove you right. And you called me the idiot ;) )
  • Dear MeElectrifyer, though I understand and agree your concern, I request you to not abuse other members as 1: No one here or anywhere has a sure proof of what MS or Google do with the info. It's just 3rd party web sites everyone's quoting. Only the companis know what happens to all that info they collect. 2: Even if either is proved/disclosed by those companies, no faction (supporters-haters) is going to accept the fact. 3: Personally, I try to block all those services which I do not want to be online (inclusing auto-update) with firewall. Also I disable most like cortana, online search etc and set all other available privacy setings to 'NO'. I only allow browser, download manager etc to connect to internet. This solved two issues - saves a lot of bandwidth and solves some privacy issues. ( though it's not very tightly secure). This leaves my PC only for those job which I want it to do. 4: And lastly, whatever is the fact, there is no alternative to MS, atleast for PC/Laptop. For mobile/tab, I switched long ago to google as I found it better and for some other reasons. Even there I stop most app/services from accessing data/WiFi. In future, may be decades, if there is a better alternative, I would try that too and may switch.
  • Microsoft can take all my information, I really don't care because I have nothing to hide. Plus many of us who are complaining about security doesn't have anything that Microsoft would be interested in. In other words, how Will it benefit Microsoft tho know ones' personal information?
  • Yup, you have nothing to hide, just like the Jews had nothing to hide from Hitler...some just never learn from history.
  • Why the actual **** would you be relate Microsoft collecting anonymous data to Hitler and the Jews?
  • MrElectrifyer didn't mention anything about anonymous data. You did. He was reposnding to WengWeng_21 who has nothing to hide. To him, I ask: please publish a picture of yourself as you are today, your real name, address, email address, phone number, names of any siblings and children, patents names and birthdays... All data that's more than likely on his MS devices, so exactly the type of data MS collects. But I'm guessing he won't because it's none of our business. Or in other words, it's information he wants to keep private, even though he has nothing to hide.
  • Ahaha, yes because MS want pictures of my dog and siblings. Maybe they will send me a birthday card one day, as it seems my birthday is important to them too. (I'm saying "Me" and "I", but this relates to everyone.)
  • Wow, bringing Jews and Hitler into the Windows 10 privacy conversation has suddenly made your previously posted misinformation make sense.
  • You are so clueless it is starting to get funny.
  • Wow. You just hit a new low. Not only have you proved to be be hypocritical and narrow-minded, you now have used Holocaust as something to back you up. Disgusting in all honesty.
  • *throws confetti* Godwin's Law! but in all seriousness, the door is over there
  • You can't be serious. Most are opt-in and isn't shared with anybody. Google/Facebook gathers more data, makes profiles of you and then sells what they find out about you.
  • You clearly didn't read their terms of serivce, or are just the typical in-denial fanboy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuYtQGfORwY
  • I have read all the ToS of all companies. It made me end my Google relationship.
  • You read the ToS of ALL companies. Liar.
  • lol Tin foil had much?
  • This video doesn't show anything, it just says about the ToS, which is same for all the service providers like Facebook, Google and Microsoft..
  • Except Microsoft doesn't share data with other companies.
  • But a lot of people think of it as evil..and that perception is what matters..it can ruin the PR..
  • Yes it does. Read their privacy policy. Preferable the verion in a language you understand.
  • Last time I checked, those other two spywares don't have access to my full PC hard drive. There's a significant difference between having full access to whatever you put in an online service vs. what you put on your local PC storage.
  • because those are not OS..please read the terms and conditions of Android, youtube & the other google services..Google being an Internet company collects more data than any other organisation..but you don't want to believe..so be it..
  • The collect it, but they don't sell it. And users have far more control over it than they do over the data collected by MS.
  • Please, just because now this is getting funny and I need the laugh. Tell me how you expect an OS to operate AT ALL, without access to your full hard drive? Try bullsh*t out of this one
  • Agreed, specially those 2 companies you mention, you are the product, your personal info, your friends, all your connections, everything is part of the data mining and analytics done by Facebook and Google to target ads against you. This has nothing to do with what Microsoft is doing to gather anonymized data on Windows 10 to make services better.
  • Exactly. Microsoft is by far less intrusive than those companies. People tend to forget them both get 90%+ of their money from selling your information.
  • Google does not sell your information.
  • Last time I checked, those two spywares don't have access to my full hard-drive, that's what makes microsoft worse.
  • Neither does Microsoft, if you don't want them to. And... You use Android?
  • Delusional fanboy talk blindly denying the TOS...
  • Where does it say that they will access your info from your hard drive, even if you don't want them to..
  • There's a difference with "Denying the ToS" and reading the ToS and not trying to twist its words to back you up, and actually understand the technical side behind it rather than just believing info someone else gave you with no reliable sources. (By the way, you can't accuse me of being a fan boy :) I've used nearly every OS under the sun. Mac, Chromebook, Linux, android phone etc etc and I like Linux just as much as I like Windows. I'm just not throwing illogical and non-proven lies like someone in particular :) )
  • The Android system (Google) actually does collect all sorts of information about you. And guess what? Unlike MS, it isn't anonymous! And Google as been known in the past to pass on data to other companies'. And since when has FB ever been an OS? You can't compare an OS to a website. That's just illogical. It sees like you're running out of lies to spread.
  • And you can opt out of the targetted ads. Google makes it very easy. Far easier than MS does.
  • They don't say what they do with your data if you opt out. At Microsoft you have to opt-in.
  • You're kidding me right? Disabling Advertising ID in the main settings. It's in plain sight. How much more easier do you want it?
  • That's not everything that identifies you... Guess why they can still "target ads" even if you turn off advertising ID...
  • Hey u google freakin fan boy f...off
  • Ohh dude.. If you are so worried.. Make an OS yourself or never ever connect to internet. I don't see any other ways to keep your data 100% private. Don't start making stupid comments in a website dedicated to windows. I know MS collects data so do any other operating system that exist in this world. Without that data they won't be able to even make a OS that's relevant to their customer.
  • People should be morally obliged to not just take licences meant for people with disabilities
  • Between the Windows 7/8 keys still work and the assistive technologies free upgrade is still available (and Microsoft not checking whether you actually *use* assistive technology), I get the feeling Microsoft announced then end of the free upgrade as of 7/29 mostly to appease their PC partners. The reality seems to be that while they *say* "No, you can't upgrade after 7/29", they are at the same time giving you a sly wink and nodding their head implying "Yes, you can". As stated above - they want the users.
  • HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You're new to the internet, aren't you? I don't disagree with you but moral obligation tends to not exist online.
  • You don't accidentally use sticky keys or narrator once in a while?
  • The quote and the title sound like 2 totally different things..... The title says it'll activate if you have a Windows 7 or 8 key. The quote from Mary Jo Foley says if you previously installed windows 10, which makes it sound like someone who upgraded and then rolled back, which means you are going back on the same PC..... not a real loophole, since a digital entitlement is added to your account per PC if you activated windows 10. Rolling back doesn't remove that entitlement.
  • I really want to take advantage of this loophole in my Acer Aspire Timeline 4810TZ which is still installed with Ubuntu 14.04, but is a brick now, since I was prompted to upgrade to Ubuntu 16 and is now showing me the login menu and desktop never starts. On the other side, I tried Ubuntu bash in Windows 10 Anniversary using Developer mode and installing Linux Subsystem for Windows and when I clicked bash, my cmd terminal automatically downloaded Ubuntu binaries, and now I have a fresh Ubuntu environment for work.  So this is what I'm going to do with my Aspire Timeline 4810TZ from 2010. Windows 10 Anniversary Update is awesome with Linux support.
  • Not really a loophole.  It was known that users who installed W10 before the deadline and then rolled back to previous versions would qualify for the upgrade when they were ready to reinstall W10.
  • That's what the "loophole" seems to me. If you have to redo your PC upgraded to Win 10 from scratch and it came with Windows 8, you would have to be able to reinstall Win 8 and upgrade or install Win 10 with the Win 8 key.
  • It's a BETA OS so it should be free forever! Especially on bug filled W10 Mobile!!
  • I don't think you understand the word Beta
  • No I understand it just fine. It means in testing and incomplete or never finished. Just like most of our apps. I get it, W10 will always be in a constant state of upgrades and change. But after a year of insider testing not much has changed. Features that worked great in 8.1 have been crippled or removed entirely. And that's progress?
  • Actually your definition is flawed. It does not mean incomplete or never finished. Adding those words to the definition immediately defines every single piece of sotware in the world as Beta. Your logic is also flawed. Removing features is not proof of lack of progress. 
  • u r right, why production builds has so many issues ? people paying $$$ for phones where they can use it has daily driver. Win10 production build is still in BETA, never ending updates to resolve issues.
  • There is no such thing as a complete OS. Every company that makes one releases updates to fix bugs and the like.
  • other companies are trying to add new features, but we still fighting for bug fixes... so are we similar to Android OS ?
  • PLEASE HELP! This is not related to this conversation but I have a problem which is driving me nuts. When I send an email using the mail app on pc, only emails from my MS account arrive showing my name, gmail, icloud and yahoo account emails all arrive as coming from my xxxxx@service.com. I have specified my name in settings for mail, but it doesnt seem to help...I have deleted accounts and signed in afresh and nothing seems to work. I feel like there is an easy fix for this out there.        
  • They know nobody is going to buy it.
  • Haa haa! I purchased a licence this very week for a machine that had WIn 8 home.   So... Someone, somewhere... purchased Windows 10.
  • So many people waited until the last min!!! I was running around like crazy Monday downloading it for family members. I was pissed!
  • Why wait for the free offer to expire only to try and get it merely 4 days later?
  • Phew.  My friend bricked her PC trying to upgrade from Windows 7 and I'm going to help her get it working again but wasn't able to before the free offer expired.  Was worried we wouldn't be able to do the free upgrade anymore.
  • Again the assistive technologies controversy. Well, it's a choice based on ethics. If you don't have a moral objection to pretend to be a disabled person only to get free software, go ahead.
  • But that's not a loophole though. If you upgraded your machine to Windows 10, and then downgraded it back to 8 or 7, your license still exists for 10. MS confirmed like a year ago that the Entitlement license is tied to your hardware setup, so your Windows 10 license doesn't go away even if you downgrade. I don't see how that's a loophole, that's just how the licensing scheme works.
  • so if i have a windows 8.1 pc that has never been upgraded, i cant install windows 10 for free again? i thought the loophole was if u had ifnfo of your windows 8 product key then u are good to go  
  • I think it's kinda cool that they left these "loopholes" for people to find and use. Instead of hating they get all whoo hoo, I got something for free, I got something for free.
  • One solution: Turn down the Windows 7 support and you will see many many people hunt for W10
  • Where are product key?
  • Wow!