Can You Download Windows 10 for Free?

February 28, 2022 • Devin Partida


When Microsoft released Windows 10 in July of 2015, it was simple for Windows users to take advantage of a free upgrade opportunity. However, if you are a current Windows user, it may not be as simple as clicking a button.

Microsoft does not support Windows 7 anymore, meaning there’s no technical support or necessary security updates. Therefore, it’s no longer safe to use Windows 7 — you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 10 for your protection.

However, you may not want to shell out cash to pay for Windows 10. While the original free upgrade promotional period is over, it is still possible to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

Below, you’ll learn how you can upgrade to this operating system (OS) for free and some other methods to get Windows 10 if you’re willing to spend a bit of cash.

The Basics: Product Keys and Digital Licenses

The simplest, most straightforward way to download Windows 10 is to have a valid product key or a digital license for a free upgrade. Suppose you wanted to buy Windows 10 from Microsoft. In that case, it will always come with a product key to unlock it. The key is usually printed and included in the OS packaging, or it’s emailed to you or stored in the cloud.

On the other hand, Microsoft initially introduced digital licenses back when it released Windows 8. Digital licenses were used as an antipiracy measure so users could not install Windows OS on more than one machine. Essentially, the license becomes locked to your Microsoft account, making it impossible to duplicate the OS.

It’s important to note that if you legally and legitimately purchased Microsoft 7 or 8, the Windows 10 activation servers will take those associated product keys to download Windows 10 onto your PC.

If you can’t find the key, you can log into your Microsoft account and check past downloads to see if the product key is accessible. Additionally, you can download Windows 8 and perform a clean install, which will take care of this problem.

You’ll have to provide an authentic product key during the setup process in any other cases. 

How to Download Windows 10 for Free

Although the promotion for a free upgrade ended in 2016, Microsoft still allows Windows users to upgrade to Windows 10 so everyone can run the latest version of the OS. 

Below, we’ll discuss the steps to follow to get Windows 10 for free, as well as some other methods that may require payment. 

First, visit Microsoft’s Windows 10 Download webpage to start the process. Once you’re there, you’ll select the Download Tool Now button. The download should only take a few seconds, no longer than one minute. 

The next step is to launch the Media Creation Tool. Once you download this, open it and accept all of Microsoft’s terms. You’ll then have two options:

  • Upgrade This PC Now
  • Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC

In both of these options, the tool will download a disk image of Windows 10. You’ll need to have enough disk space for the file, which should be at least 4 GB.

Next, select the Upgrade This PC option and follow the instructions. The tool will scan your machine to ensure it’s compatible with Windows 10. Continue to follow the prompts, including uninstalling programs to address some of the installer’s concerns. 

Once any issues are resolved, the installer will copy and transfer any data from your current OS. Remember that you may have a lot of data in Windows 7, and there’s no guarantee that all files and apps will work with Windows 10. For this reason, be sure to backup any crucial or sensitive data, such as images or important documents. 

Finish installation using the Media Creation Tool. Your PC will likely turn on and off a few times, which is normal. If it prompts you to enter a product key, you can enter it during this step or later in Settings > Update & Security > Activation.

Unfortunately, this upgrade will not work for Windows Vista or Windows XP. These versions never qualified for the free version of Windows 10. It is possible to upgrade these versions, but it is a longer, more complex process. 

There are other methods for getting Windows 10 downloaded, such as downloading without activating it. 

However, some limitations kick in after 30 days. It’s worth noting that Microsoft does not permit an unactivated version of Windows 10, and you’d essentially be breaking the rules and the licensing agreement. It’s a risk you’ll have to weigh — however, the method outlined above should work just as well. 

Some third-party sellers offer Windows 10 product keys at a discounted price. Be sure to verify any vendors to ensure they’re reliable and provide you with a usable product key. It’s common for scammers to sell invalid product keys to make a quick buck. 

Download Windows 10 Easily, Legally, and for Free

Now that you know how to download Windows 10 for free (and legitimately), you’ll be able to reap all the benefits the latest OS has to offer. It’s always suggested to keep your OS updated regularly to keep yourself protected from potential cybersecurity threats.