Tech Tip - Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free


Support for Microsoft Windows 7 ends January 14, 2020. Are you still running Windows 7? If so, you may still be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Here's how.

In less than two weeks, computers running Windows 7 will no longer receive updates or security patches. That leaves them vulnerable to viruses and other malware. If you or your firm still have computers running Windows 7, and those computers are connected to the internet, you risk losing control over your data and the data of your clients.

New computers?

If you have computers that came with Windows 7 preinstalled, they are likely old enough to warrant replacement. Windows 10 was introduced nearly five years ago, so a Windows 7 computer is probably several generations behind in processing power. Electronic components age and become less reliable over time, including components inside computers. It is much better to replace a computer while it is still running than to be rushed into a replacement when a computer suddenly fails. A new computer will come with Windows 10 preinstalled. And if a computer is going to be used in an office setting where security is critical, make sure to opt for Windows 10 Professional. If you find a great deal on a computer with Windows 10 Home preinstalled, budget an additional $100 to do a simple in-place upgrade from Home to Pro before you put the computer to work in your law firm. The easy-to-follow steps are outlined in this post on the always-useful How-To Geek blog.

Free Upgrade to Windows 10

If you are confident your existing computer is worth keeping, and runs Windows 7 without bogging down, it will probably run Windows 10 without any glitches. The hardware requirements are the same. But watch out for older components such as dedicated video cards. While these are not common in office computers, some older video cards are not supported by Windows 10 and will not work properly - or at all. It may be better to purchase a new PC with the latest hardware than to upgrade your PC's internal components just to make it compatible with Windows 10.

A retail copy of Windows 10 Professional costs $200. But you may not need to buy it. If you have a licensed copy of Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 Professional, you should be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Professional for free. The Home version of Windows is not recommended because it lacks important security features that any law firm needs.

For a free upgrade, you need your Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 Professional product key. If all you have is a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 Home product key, you can go ahead and upgrade with the key so long as you understand that once Windows 10 Home is up and running, your first task before installing any programs is to upgrade from Home to Pro for $100.

If you didn't save the documentation for your computer that contains the Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 product key, you can use a software utility like ProduKey to extract the key from your current Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 PC and then write it down for use during the Windows 10 installation process.

Next, you will back up everything on your existing PC that you want to keep because this upgrade process requires a "clean install" that wipes the hard drive of the old operating system and data before Windows 10 is installed. Once the backup is done, use your existing computer (or any PC of your choosing) to download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft's website. Run the Tool and choose "USB flash drive" as the media to use for the clean install. You need a USB flash drive with at least at least 8 GB of space.

Once the Windows 10 installation files are copied onto the USB flash drive and the Tool makes the drive bootable, you need to boot the PC you want to upgrade using the USB flash drive. This may require changing BIOS/UEFI firmware settings to allow booting from the USB flash drive. If those terms are new to you, this upgrade might be better left to your tech advisor. 

Once booted using the USB flash drive, the Windows Installer will launch. Just follow the prompts and enter the Windows 7, 8, 8.1 product key when asked to do so. Once the installation completes and the latest updates are downloaded as installed, check to confirm that your new Windows 10 installation has been "activated" (declared legitimate) by Microsoft's activation servers. 


While this process is not particularly complex, it does require a moderate level of computer knowledge and patience. If you are not sure this process is something you can do, then it is a job best left to your computer hardware advisor. The odds of a disaster are remote, but not non-existent. Buying a new Windows 10 PC to replace a 4+ year-old Windows 7 computer may be the wiser solution.                          

For help or to learn more about software and operating system upgrades, contact us. You can reach us at 877-676-5492, or simply request a consultation.  


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