How to upgrade to Windows 10 (for free)

Windows 10 is officially the most used operating system in the world. However, there are still people using Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on their computers and devices. If you are one of them, you might want to upgrade to Windows 10, and get the latest and the greatest Microsoft has to offer. If you have a license key for Windows 10, you can upgrade right away, with the help of an app called Media Creation Tool developed by Microsoft. Here is how to use it to upgrade your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 computer to Windows 10 today, for free:

What you should know before you upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10

Before you decide whether or not to upgrade to Windows 10, you should read the official Windows 10 specifications and make sure that your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 computer meets the system requirements for Windows 10. Windows 10 demands the following:

  • Processor or SoC: 1 GHz or faster
  • RAM: 1 GB for the 32-bit version or 2 GB for the 64-bit version
  • Free hard disk space: 32 GB or larger
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: with a minimum resolution of 800 x 600 pixels

During the upgrade, Windows 10 might ask for your product key, so keep it handy. However, in our tests, if Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 is activated, you do not need to have a serial code (product key) for Windows 10. In this case, Microsoft updates Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10 for free and activates your new digital license automatically.

Note that you also need to have a working internet connection to download all the necessary installation data from Microsoft’s servers and activate Windows 10.

Step 1. Download and run the Media Creation Tool app

The first thing you have to do once you have decided to upgrade to Windows 10 is to download the software called Media Creation Tool. It is a small executable file developed by Microsoft that lets you download Windows 10 and create installation media or directly upgrade your current Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 computer to the latest version of Windows 10. As we found out, some people actually call it the “upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10 tool”. 🙂

To get Media Creation Tool, launch any web browser and navigate this website: Download Windows 10. Scroll until you find the “Download tool now” button and click or tap on it. It is located in the section that says: “Create Windows 10 installation media.”

Download Media Creation Tool from Microsoft

Then, you get to download the MediaCreationTool.exe executable file, with a size of 18.5 MB. Click/tap on the Run button or save it somewhere on your PC, and then double-click or double-tap on it.

Choosing to run the Media Creation Tool

To run the Media Creation Tool, you have to be logged in as an administrator on your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 computer. When User Account Control (UAC) asks if you are sure that you want to run this app, click or tap Yes.

Confirm that you want to run Media Creation Tool

Step 2. Use the Media Creation Tool to download Windows 10 and customize the upgrade

The first thing that the Media Creation Tool asks you to do is accept the license terms. Read them carefully and, if you agree with them, click or tap Accept.

License terms for Windows 10

Select the option that says “Upgrade this PC now” and then click or tap on Next.

Choosing to Upgrade now

Next, Media Creation Tool starts downloading the Windows 10 installation files. This step can take a while, depending on how fast your internet connection is.

Downloading Windows 10

Now, you have to wait for the Media Creation Tool to prepare the Windows 10 installation files. This step also takes quite a while, depending on how fast or slow your computer is.

Creating Windows 10 media

Then, Media Creation Tool checks for any available updates.

Media Creation Tool is Checking for updates

Once done, you have to agree to the license terms one more time.

License terms for Windows 10

Although kind of redundant, Media Creation Tool makes another check for updates. Wait for it to finish.

Media Creation Tool is Checking for updates

Once the updates check is over, you should see that the Media Creation Tool is “Ready to install” Windows 10 on your PC.

By default, it chooses to keep your files and apps before upgrading to Windows 10. If you want that, click or tap on the Install button to continue. Otherwise, click or tap “Change what to keep” to personalize the upgrade.

Windows 10 is ready to install

If you clicked or tapped on “Change what to keep,” there are several options you can choose from: “Keep personal files and apps,” “Keep personal files only,” or keep Nothing. Select the option you prefer and then click or tap on Next.

Choosing what to keep when doing an upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10

In a deja-vu experience, the Media Creation Tool is “Checking for updates” once again, so wait for it to do its thing.

Media Creation Tool is Checking for updates

The Windows 10 installer now shows what you chose to keep on the previous step. Click or tap on Install to continue, or “Change what to keep” to make a new selection if you changed your mind. 🙂

Media Creation Tool is ready to install Windows 10

Step 3. Upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10

The Windows 10 installation begins, and you are informed that the process might take a while, and your computer or device might also restart a few times. This is a perfect time to have a coffee and get ready for Windows 10.

Installing Windows 10

After the first restart, there are two paths on which the upgrade can go to:

  1. If you chose not to keep your files and settings, follow the instructions from Step 4 in this guide;
  2. If you chose to keep your files and settings, follow the instructions from Step 5 in this guide.

Step 4. How to customize your Windows 10 installation if you don’t keep your personal files and settings

If you decided not to keep your personal files and settings, the setup wizard starts installing Windows 10 as if it was a “clean” installation. You are shown an “Installing Windows” message, and you can watch the installation’s progress as you wait for the installation to be performed.

Then, the final customization steps are the same as the ones we described in the last half of this tutorial: How to install Windows 10 from DVD, USB, or ISO file.

Installing Windows 10 when no files or settings are kept

Step 5. How to customize your Windows 10 installation if you keep your personal files and settings

If you decided to keep your files and settings, after the first restart, you are shown a blue screen with the message “Working on updates” and a percent number that shows you the progress. Wait for the upgrade to be performed, and don’t shut down your computer. Several restarts are likely to be necessary, again.

Updating Windows 10 when files and/or settings from Windows 7/8.1 are kept

Once the upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10 is almost over, the installation process tells you that there are some updates available for your PC. Wait until the message goes away.

Windows 10 has some updates to install

Then, you can configure the privacy settings for your computer. Windows 10 asks if you agree to enable the use of your location, enable speech recognition, send diagnostics data to Microsoft, and let apps display relevant ads tailored to your behavior patterns. For each type of information, you can use the appropriate switch to set it. When you are done, press Accept.

Choosing privacy settings for Windows 10

When done, you are logged into Windows 10, and you can view your new desktop and a “Browse the web with Microsoft Edge” notification.

Windows 7 or 8.1 has been upgraded to Windows 10

Congratulations, you have managed to upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10!

Did you stumble upon issues while upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10?

As you can see, upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 is not complicated. We hope that our guide managed to help you go through the process with ease and without any significant issues. However, if you have problems or questions, let us know in the comments below.

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