(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
14 February 2018
So now that both the free upgrade to Windows 10 for the general public and the extended free upgrade for those using assistive technologies have ended, you are out of luck for a free upgrade, right? Well, not necessarily. Supposedly if you download the Windows 10 installation software from Microsoft at www.microsoft.com/en-in/software-download/windows10
and upgrade using a qualifying Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 license key, it will still upgrade and activate Windows 10 for free.
The author of the article I read had personally done it in January. I had an opportunity to try it this month (February) and it still worked. No one knows how long this will continue to work though.
If you are upgrading the PC that you are going to download the installation software on, then after clicking “Download tool now” and running it and accepting the user account control, you can click the “Upgrade this PC now” and follow the instructions. The other choice is to “Create installation media” which will allow creation of a bootable USB drive or DVD or just the ISO file for later use on the PC or another PC. For this choice click Next, then under the “Select language, architecture, and edition” settings, if it is going to be for another PC, be sure to uncheck the option to “Use the recommended options for this PC” and change the options to match the other PC if they are different. After clicking Next, you will have the option to choose USB Flash Drive, DVD, or ISO File as the destination and follow the instructions accordingly.
The author also pointed out that Windows 10 can be installed and function even without activating, as can Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 for that matter. It will have a “watermark” indication that it is not activated and you may not be able to connect to the update server for automatic updates, but Windows will function and you can go to the Microsoft Update Catalog www.catalog.update.microsoft.com to download and install updates manually. Searching for updates can be tricky. I found that searching for “2018-01” for the January monthly rollups for example is the easiest way to find them. You have to pick the right update to download for your system architecture and Windows 10 version from the list. This allows you to “try before you buy” if you want to. You can purchase a license key from Microsoft later and add it to your installed copy so it can be activated.