Last Updated:

How to Get Windows 10 Free, and Why You Should Stop Using Windows 7

Arsen Karapetyan

Almost exactly one month ago, on July 10, I warned Windows 7 users about the risk of using the Zoom client courtesy of a security vulnerability that wasn't exploitable on either Windows 8 or Windows 10. That was the latest in a whole string of security warnings about continuing to use an operating system that has already long-since reached its official end of life status. Windows 7 is dead; it has ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker. Apart from the fact that it's none of these things, of course: Windows 7 remains the second biggest desktop and laptop OS with around a quarter of the market share, behind Windows 10 and ahead of Mac OS X 10. That is a fact that concerns me, as a security person. The FBI also want to have a word with you if you are a Windows 7 user. Their advice? Update to Windows 10. If that sounds like bad news to you, there’s also some good: it appears you can still upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for free.

What has the FBI said about Windows 7 and to whom?

So, what is the FBI saying, to whom, and how? The FBI warning came by way of a private industry notification (PIN) that has been distributed to private sector partners in the United States. The nature of the warning is to be expected: "As time passes, Windows 7 becomes more vulnerable to exploitation," the FBI PIN stated, "due to lack of security updates and new vulnerabilities discovered." While the PIN itself is aimed squarely at enterprises, with talk of seeing cybercriminals targeting computer network infrastructure when operating systems reach that end of life status, the advice really stands for all users. The FBI advice and mine for what it's worth: upgrade your operating system to the latest supported version. In this case, then, that's Windows 10.

How to upgrade to Windows 10 for free

It's not as if the upgrade cost, at least when moving away from the enterprise and into consumer territory, should be a factor. Despite officially ending four years ago now, the upgrade to Windows 10 for free offer from Microsoft appears to still work if you have a genuine licensed copy of Windows 7. Of course, I cannot guarantee this will work for everyone as there do seem to be some stumbling blocks occasionally, and at some point one assumes the ability will stop, so you do this at your own risk. However, recent reports suggest that by going to the Microsoft Windows 10 download page and doing just that, it’s possible to get the upgrade for free with that legit existing Windows 7 key.

After downloading, when running the Media Creation Tool, select the ‘upgrade’ option and follow the prompts. As long as your Windows 7 product key was a genuine one, and associated with the machine you are upgrading, you shouldn’t need to enter any key during the process. Making a backup before attempting the upgrade would be advised, as with any such operating system upgrade. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.