Microsoft launched a “free upgrade to Windows 10” campaign a few years back. As part of the campaign, Microsoft allowed us to upgrade our Windows 7 or 8.1 machines to Windows 10 for free. According to our testing, the offer is still free and works for the latest version of Windows 11 too.
As you’re probably aware, support for Windows 7 ended in 2020, and Microsoft released the last update for the OS in the same year. Microsoft is not releasing security updates or emergency patches unless you’re run a company and willing to pay the company for continued support.
The good news is if you have Windows 7 key or can extract one from the existing Windows 7 hardware, you can use it to upgrade any device to Windows 11. However, this applies to genuine copies of Windows 7 only, where an upgrade to Windows 11 is available at no extra cost.
One of our readers informed us that they installed Windows 11 on a USB stick downloaded from the Windows website and then attempted to activate the operating system using a product code from an old laptop running Windows 7.
To their surprise, the product code worked and activated Windows 11 without issue. We did our own testing and could activate Windows 11 copy by following Windows 7’s free upgrade path. Microsoft has yet to comment on the matter, but this shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
Many users have previously confirmed that if you have a product key for Windows 7, you can upgrade to Windows 10 and get a digital license for free. This also applies to Windows 11.
A Microsoft official previously confirmed that the whole “free” upgrade for a year was a marketing fluff. These product keys should continue to work until Microsoft significantly changes the licencing policies.
Here’s how to get Windows 10/11 upgrade for free:
- Get/have a genuine copy of Windows 7/8.1 on your device or virtual machine.
- Head over to Microsoft’s download page and download the tool. Or you can use our Windows 10 ISO or Windows 11 ISO.
- Open Media Creation Tool or Setup.exe
- Select ‘Upgrade this PC now’.
- Accept the terms and conditions.
- Choose the upgrade option.
- Do not perform a fresh install. Instead, choose to keep your data.
- Once done, your PC will have a digital license of Windows 10/11.
Sometimes, you may need to resize your partition after upgrading from Windows 7 as you’ll need more space to store Windows 11 apps. This is possible via Command Prompt or a full-fledged partition tool like EaseUS Partition Master, which allows you to convert MBR to GPT for Windows 11 upgrade.
At the end of the day, this should be good news for Windows 7 users. However, it’s unlikely a Windows 7 machine will meet the hardware requirements of Windows 11. Most recent Windows 10 laptops fail to meet the hardware requirements since Microsoft started requiring at least 8th gen or newer processors.