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Microsoft has confirmed that the free Windows 10 upgrade will expire. After July 29, a Windows 10 license will cost $119.

The free upgrade offer to Windows 10 was a first for Microsoft, helping people upgrade faster than ever before. And time is running out. The free upgrade offer will end on July 29 and we want to make sure you don’t miss out.

If you’re not ready to make the switch, but want to make sure you don’t miss out on the free upgrade period, we’ve got you covered.

Why You Should Get Windows 10 Now

Even if you’re really happy with your current operating system, you’ll eventually want to make the switch to Windows 10. Mainstream support Why to Upgrade Windows at the End of Extended Support Why to Upgrade Windows at the End of Extended Support Eventually, support for every Windows version expires, leaving PCs full of holes, entry points for malware, and opportunities for hackers. Windows 8 recently reached end of support status - we show you why and how... Read More for Windows 7 officially ended on January 13, 2015, and the extended support period will expire in 2020. Trust me, it’ll come quicker than you think. So taking advantage of a free, non-committal upgrade makes sense.

Securing your free upgrade is an easy process, too. Windows 10 links your license key to your system hardware, specifically your motherboard. Your system is assigned a unique machine identifier, permanently logged in the Microsoft Windows 10 upgrade database. Thus if you upgrade to Windows 10 and then head back to your existing operating system, your hardware will remain “digitally entitled” for Windows 10.

Better still, taking advantage of the upgrade doesn’t “consume” or alter your license. This means your Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 license will remain as is, allowing you to reactivate as you see fit (subject to any existing licensing agreements).

Upgrade, Downgrade

Now, to business. You can upgrade to Windows 10 to take advantage of the free upgrade, then immediately downgrade to your previous operating system. There are two ways to go about this; both give you opportunity to complete the upgrade/downgrade process using different media How to Downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.1 How to Downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.1 Windows 10 is here and maybe it's not what you expected. If you already upgraded, you can perform a rollback. And if you haven't yet, create a system backup first. We show you how. Read More .

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Windows 7, 8, 8.1 Actions

If you’re running a legitimate version of Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 How to Get a Cheap Windows 7 or 8 License Now to Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free How to Get a Cheap Windows 7 or 8 License Now to Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free Worried about the future of your old or pirated Windows copy? Now is the time to snatch a cheap Windows 7 or 8 license to secure yourself that free upgrade to Windows 10. We show... Read More , you’ll have noticed the “gentle” encouragement toward upgrading your system How to Block the Aggressive Windows 10 Upgrade on Windows 7 and 8.1 How to Block the Aggressive Windows 10 Upgrade on Windows 7 and 8.1 Microsoft ramps up its efforts to make users upgrade to Windows 10. Come 2016, many people will wake up to a new operating system, despite never having consented to the upgrade. Don't be one of... Read More to Windows 10. Well now you can finally give into Microsoft, and click OK.

Windows 10 Windows Update free path

Before doing that, make sure to make a complete system backup of your existing operating system using the inbuilt Windows applications How to Create an ISO Image of Your Windows System How to Create an ISO Image of Your Windows System Need a quick and easy way to backup and restore Windows without relying on backup tools or the cloud? It's time to learn how to make an ISO image of your Windows PC. Read More , or a third-party application of your choosing, such as Macrium Reflect. Whatever you decide, make sure your backup or the system image is complete because it’s your ticket to roll back.

Next, if you don’t already have one tucked away, create a system repair disc. You can find instructions on creating a Windows 8 repair disc here How to Create a Windows 8 Recovery Disk How to Create a Windows 8 Recovery Disk The days of reinstalling Windows when it acts up are long since gone. All you need to fix Windows 8 is a recovery disk, either on CD/DVD, a USB or an external hard disk drive. Read More . Windows 7 users should head to Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Backup and Restore. In the left pane, select Create a system repair disc, and follow the instructions.

Now that you’re backed-up, with a system image and a recovery disc, we can get to work. Open Windows Update, and follow the instructions to upgrade to Windows 10. Using Windows Update will ensure your settings, customizations, software, software settings, and files are all in place when you are re-birthed into your Windows 10 future.

Windows 10 Actions

Once you arrive in the promised land of Windows 10, we only have a couple of tasks to perform before heading back to the…past. You’ll have to negotiate all of the Windows 10 setup pages, and there are quite a few. I’ve previously created a handy guide to help you configure Windows 10 privacy settings during this setup How to Configure Windows 10 Privacy Settings During Setup How to Configure Windows 10 Privacy Settings During Setup If you're installing Windows 10 for the first time, you may be unhappy with the assumptions Microsoft makes when selecting their Express Settings presets during installation. What liberties are Microsoft are taking with your privacy? Read More , so take your time and select the options that are relevant to you.

Once you’re in, we can make a system image to restore from later down the line. Head to Control Panel > File History. Nestled in the bottom-left corner of the window should be System Image Backup. Click this. In the top-left of the new panel select Create a system image.

Windows 10 Back up and Restore Create System Image

Alternatively, type back up and restore into the Cortana search bar, and select the option beneath Settings, as pictured below. The create a system image link The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide Windows 10 makes data backups effortless. We have summarized every native backup, restore, recovery, and repair option we could find on Windows 10. Use our simple tips and never despair over lost data again! Read More will be in the top-left of the new window.

Windows 10 Back up search

You’ll now have several options as to where you’d like to store your system image. Select the drive you’d like to use (ideally separate to the physical disk being backed up), or insert a DVD. If you go for the DVD route, prepare to use multiple discs, depending on the size of the operating system, system settings, and other important files. Once you’ve selected either a drive or disc, press Next, followed by Start backup. Now, sit back, make a cup of tea, and wait.

Windows 10 Create a System Image

Once the system image is complete, we can roll your system back to the previous operating system. Type recovery into the Cortana search bar, and select the first option. You should see an option to Go back to Windows 7/8/8.1.

Go Back to Windows 7

Select this. You’ll then encounter a dialogue box asking “why are you going back?” Make your selection(s), then press Enter. You’ll then be advised that this may indeed take some time, and that your PC will unavailable for use during the rollback process. Press Next, then select Go back to previous Windows.

You should now be re-birthed into your old operating system, with everything exactly where you left it. Should this method fail, you can use the system image we recommended you to prepare earlier.

Using the System Image

The free Windows 10 upgrade works by making a copy of your existing product key and permanently tying it to your system hardware. Microsoft maintains a database of each updated system, and the hardware used to upgrade. So by upgrading now, you’ve secured your free upgrade, and made a system image of the upgraded system to jump back into when you decide to make the switch.

To use the system image, type recovery into the Start Menu search bar, and select the first option. In the new window select Advanced recovery methods, followed by Use a system image you created earlier to recover your computer. Follow the instructions on screen. Restoring the Windows 10 system image will return your PC to the exact moment of creation, giving you a delightful, fresh Windows 10 operating system to play with.

Windows 7 Recover from System Image

Do I Have to Do It This Way?

If you’re not fussed about keeping your files and system settings, no, you don’t.

You can easily download a Windows 10 ISO How to Download Official Windows ISO Files Free from Microsoft How to Download Official Windows ISO Files Free from Microsoft You can download Windows installation files free from Microsoft. We'll show you a hack that allows you to download ISO files for any edition of Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 from Microsoft's Tech... Read More , burn to a bootable media source How To Make a Bootable USB, CD or DVD to Install Windows Using an ISO File How To Make a Bootable USB, CD or DVD to Install Windows Using an ISO File Need installation media to reinstall Windows? In this article we'll show you where to get Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 installation files and how to create a bootable USB, CD, or DVD from scratch. Read More , and perform a clean installation. This process eliminates any potential hangover from legacy files and drivers you might encounter when using the Windows Update upgrade process. You’ll enter your existing license during the Windows 10 installation The Ultimate Windows 10 Activation & License FAQ The Ultimate Windows 10 Activation & License FAQ One of the big confusions surrounding Windows 10 concerns its licensing and activation. This FAQ will shed some light, explain what has changed with Windows 10 version 1511 (Fall Update), and translate activation-related error codes. Read More process and Microsoft should recognize and accept this as a legitimate key.

Following last fall’s Windows 10 version 1511 update An Insider Review of the Windows 10 Fall Update An Insider Review of the Windows 10 Fall Update The Windows 10 Fall Update contains many minor improvements, a few feature updates, and a bunch of new settings. We show you what to expect and which default settings you might want to adjust. Read More , you can now use your existing Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 license to activate your new operating system during the installation process. This has the same effect as following the Windows Update path, in that your system will be assigned a unique machine identifier, which is linked to your motherboard.

If you do decide to follow this path, please ensure you have a copy of your old operating system to hand to reinstall, as well as the product key, as there will be no rollback option.

Also, bear in mind that when you head back to the previous operating system, it will be another clean install, meaning your system settings and files will have been deleted – unless you backed up your settings How to Upgrade to Windows 10 & Take Settings and Apps with You How to Upgrade to Windows 10 & Take Settings and Apps with You Windows 10 is coming and you have a choice to make. Either you upgrade your existing Windows installation, or you can install Windows 10 from scratch. We show you how to migrate to Windows 10... Read More or restore the system image we took earlier, which we would suggest doing.

This is why it is vital to take a system image of your current operating system before embarking on any Windows 10 forays, regardless of whether you intend on making it your final resting place.

And Once It’s Gone, It’s Gone?

Yes. If you fail to upgrade during the Microsoft specified timeline ending on July 29, it’s curtains for your free Windows 10 copy, and you’ll be looking at a $119 outlay for a shiny new license.

However, there is one exception. Microsoft has confirmed customers using assistive technologies These Assistive Technology Advances Will Transform Lives These Assistive Technology Advances Will Transform Lives Read More will continue to receive the upgrade for free “to deliver on our previously-shared vision for accessibility for Windows 10.”

Microsoft yet has to explain how those assistive technology users will be able to download and/or upgrade to Windows 10 for free. I’d also be interested to know if this offer will be extended to those turning on assistive technologies following July 29.

If you’re “umming and ahhing” about upgrading, now is your time. Don’t miss out on the chance to grab a free copy of Windows 10 because you’ve heard the reams of bad feedback, or simply are not ready to leave your old operating system behind. Upgrade, rollback, and take your time!

Will you be upgrading before the July 29 deadline? Do you think Windows 10 is ready, or will you immediately roll back? Is Windows 10 lacking anything? Let us know below!

  1. Boyd Sirrel
    August 30, 2016 at 1:36 am

    No thanks, still running fine on a Windows 7 clean installation without any system packs nor updates whatsoever. If I ever do end up wanting Windows 10, I'll pirate it. Hey, they wanted to give it to me free anyway, so what difference does it make.

  2. Dan
    August 27, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    I made use of the free update before the expiry date some eight months back. My computer went in for repair and they uninstalled 10. Afterwards they reinstalled Windows 8.1. How can I get the windows 10 back?

  3. JB_ Nygren
    July 29, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    I wish Microsoft had warned us that we would need to start attempting the upgrade several weeks ahead of the deadline, because it will take that long to find a way around the "Windows update hangs while checking for updates" problems. I don't suppose any of the dozens of failed attempts to upgrade would result in my 'digital entitlement' being recorded by Microsoft.

  4. fellisso
    July 27, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    So, if i upgraded, then downgraded again, won't i be able to do the same upgrade process using a widows 10 ISO?
    I mean, can i then only do a clean install?

    I remember windows 8 setup allowed you to upgrade your existing Windows 7 OS, too.

  5. Ilkka
    July 24, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Can I install Windows 10 on different hard drive, activate it. Then remove the said HDD and put original Windows 7 HDD back in. Will this get me Digital Entitlement and keep my old Win7 install working normally?

  6. Mark Whitlock
    July 14, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    I'm also having trouble trusting MS.
    I'm running a gaming machine using Win 7 pro 64 bit.
    But I need to upgrade my motherboard CPU and ram.
    Because of the outrageous, and in my opinion unethical policies.
    I can't upgrade my hardware without loosing my Win 7.
    Otherwise I could use my win 7, on my older xp pro machine.
    I tried upgrading to Win10, but it trashed my system, (I probably needed to do a fresh instal)l even if MS said my system and software were 100 percent compatible.
    So I reinstalled Win 7 pro 64, from scratch.
    So free mean loosing a fully functional win 7 that was very expensive.
    So How can I trust a company that won't let me upgrade my computer, without a new purchase of an operating system.
    From what I saw of win 10, it looked silly to say the least, and would NOT run some of my most used software.
    Now the deadline is coming up, and i'm stuck.
    How do I upgrade my hardware without having to buy something I already own and works fine.
    I don't mind paying for a new Windows 10, asuming it works as well, but I hate loosing the best Windows operating system ever made, Win 7 pro 64 bit, since they won't let me use it on one of my older systems.
    It's very hard to trust someone, that is already proven, to have low ethical and moral standards.
    And Win 10 looks like it needs a couple of more years in development.
    As we can see by all the links on how remove win 10, after it trashes your system or proves to be problematic.

    I guess free mean that we can test the software for them for free, and after a few years of sending bug reports and looking for solutions ect.. they can sell us something that works.

    But. Win 7 pro 64 bit is perfect.
    I don't feel the need to test, anymore Win software, I have done that for 3 or 4 decades now, and I am sick of it.

    Mark Whitlock

    • Graham
      July 15, 2016 at 9:21 am

      I hear you, bro.

      As you have Win 7 pro you will upgraded to 10 pro, which IIRC has Hyper-V in there somewhere. You should be able to run 7 inside 10 for the software that 10 won't handle.

      Not the ideal situation, but may be a temporary fix.

  7. Graham
    July 14, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    Will I still be able to update after the cutoff date, as long as I have already 'licensed' the machine by installing Windows 10 beforehand?

    Otherwise, any changes to the machine after the backup would be lost...

  8. llh133
    June 22, 2016 at 6:16 am

    A bit of research and I see where an upgrade will likely kill 4 programs I use regularly and that are not cheap to replace. Then too, though not to cut cable but to act as an extra DVR and a wonderful way to skip commercials, I have a $5 cable box attached to a TV card on my desktop machine. I tried to set up both Kodi and Plex and killed both programs - too much bother to setup when Windows Media Center is so easy. Sooner or later yes my 6 year old desktop and laptop may fade away and I'll have to buy new but for now I'll stay status quo and not let Microsoft require me extra expenses for software upgrades.

  9. Snerdguy
    June 17, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    I have an older EL1200 PC that upgraded to Windows 7 some years ago and it has worked just fine for my needs. Now that Microsoft is bugging people to upgrade to Windows 10, I decided to give it a try only to find out that it is incompatible with my video driver software. Emachines says they aren't interested in making my computer compatible.

    Isn't anyone going to have pity on us oldsters who don't need the video games and feel like they are being blackmailed into buying a new PC before July 29 so they can get Windows 10?

    • Gavin Phillips
      June 23, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      Unfortunately, that issue lies with eMachines rather than Microsoft, but I understand how infuriating that must be. Equally unfortunately, there have been other cases where those older devices without support are simply left behind, as Microsoft are not pressuring hardware manufacturers to release or update drivers. You could be out of luck.

      If you're not entirely worried about performance, especially for gaming, you could always attempt to find a cheap replacement, though that is really less than ideal. Otherwise, contacting Microsoft appears to be your only other option, though I'm not sure how well this would work.

      Good luck, thanks for reading.

  10. Kannon Yamada
    June 6, 2016 at 1:52 am

    Gavin, that was such a smooth, brilliant article. Thanks for writing this one.

    • Gavin Phillips
      June 23, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Wow, thanks Kannon, high praise indeed coming from you :)

  11. Tim Conley
    May 18, 2016 at 3:40 am

    My concern about Windows 10 is that I don't trust Microsoft anymore. When any company says that something is free, it usually isn't, that is, they have a plan to recoup their loss, not necessarily in ways they make clear in advance. Microsoft has given away billions in lost revenue with millions of copies of free Win 10, which seems to either make them unbelievably generous, or equally stupid or just corporately scheming.

    What schemes? Two come to mind: after it is too late for us to roll back, Microsoft will sell space in Windows to advertisers; or more likely, they will switch to a subscription format, like Symantec, McAfee and Intuit have done, among many others. After this initial free version, we would be then forced to re-buy Window 10 every year.

    I've not seen any ironclad assurances that neither of these will happen, but perhaps I just missed them? Unfortunately, even if Microsoft does plan to do anything like I suggest, it seems that sooner or later we would all have to succumb or switch to some other significantly deficient OS like Linux or iOS. (Deficient for gamers at least.)

    I plan to do the upgrade before it expires, but will have cloned by current C: drive on a new SSD first.

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 20, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      I think they are very legitimate fears, Tim. We know from experience that once something digital becomes free it is highly likely we've become the product, the operating system merely the platform for information collection.

      This is exactly why many people were extremely concerned about the seemingly excessive amount of telemetry between Windows 10 and Microsoft. While this theory has largely been expelled, it isn't to say it won't appear down the line. And you're right: there have been no official statements declaring that it will never happen, only that the free upgrade is free for the stated period.

      Personally, I don't see Microsoft retroactively enforcing subscriptions for those already upgraded, and equally, they're highly unlikely to suddenly turn on those outright purchasing new W10 licenses. But down the road, over yon hill, we might see a subscription model for new users, something akin to O365, though I think it would be of questionable value given the price of a new, whole license.

      Thanks for reading.

  12. Toronto-Mike
    May 14, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    I did try the upgrade from Win 7 pro last August it was awful and wouldn't roll back properly had to get a friendly repair shop to reinstall win 7 pro, luckily I had everything backup. Reading your push, push push article, I am still hesitant about upgrading, having read that the November win 10 update is now deleting third party software it doesn't like, even if reinstall it. I like CCleaner for example, how do I know it won't like my Chinese free 360 antivirus program, do I want to have that, go bye bye for Defender I think not. 270 million of 1 billion computers shows Win 10 is not as popular as you would like us to believe.

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 20, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      Well, that's fair. I'm not entirely "push, push, push," but I do think people should take the opportunity to grab their free upgrade before leaping back. You might want to part ways with W7 at some point, and it would be jolly frustrating to fork out $$$s for something that could have been free. Thank you for reading.

  13. Tripp
    May 14, 2016 at 12:03 am

    Thanks for this! I went to great lengths to made my Windows 8.1 work like Windows 7 (never got the hang of maneuvering around all those weird new pages in 8 (don't even know what they're called!), and configured the windows button to act like classic windows 'start'). I like, and understand, what I have now, but realize an upgrade to 10 is inevitable...eventually. Just not ready now. This sounds like a great solution for me. Thanks for all the detailed instructions for us non-techies who are perfectly happy with what we have now.

    • Kelsey Tidwell
      May 14, 2016 at 1:28 am

      You'll be happy to know that Windows 10 acts far more like Windows 7 than 8/8.1 ever will.

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 20, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      No problem, Tripp. It is the best option for those completely unsure. I've been running the Insider Preview on my laptop for a couple of years now, and I do enjoy Windows 10, but I'm happier watching it evolve away from my working desktop! Thank you for reading!

  14. Disgruntled Reader
    May 13, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    did I just read through a full on bait n switch article ... why do writers do this it won't win them any points.

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 13, 2016 at 7:04 pm

      I don't know, have you? I'm not sure what I've baited you with... And switched the bait for?

    • Kelsey Tidwell
      May 14, 2016 at 1:26 am

      No you didn't. This article is entirely true to the title.

      • Gavin Phillips
        May 20, 2016 at 2:15 pm

        Thank you, Kelsey. I thought I was going mad.

  15. Wm Brown
    May 13, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Should have posted the majority of this article 10 months ago.

    Just sayin', .......... :(

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 13, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      Sorry! Did you upgrade? It isn't too late to go back, if you really wanted too.

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