10 Days until 1 Year Free Upgrade Grace Period is Over…


You have less that 10 days to register your systems hardware with a Microsoft Activation Server and make your system a Windows 10 Device if you haven’t already done so…

After this date you “may need to pay full retail price” to Upgrade to Windows 10 when Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 approach End of Life (2020).

Its advised to Backup your Windows 7 or 8.1 Installation using Macrium Reflect so you can easily revert if need be. Before upgrading you should Update your (UEFI) BIOS. You then can then Upgrade to Windows 10 TH2. After the Upgrade you may Restore your old Windows Installation using your Macrium Reflect Image.

Alternatively you may backup your files and Clean Install (recommended particularly if you plan to migrate). See Download Windows 10 TH2 and Clean Install.

I have bought several second hand Windows 7 OptiPlex 390/790/7010 models this week that aren’t yet upgraded to Windows 10. I plan on using these to see if the Free Upgrade will continue to work after the 1 Year Free Upgrade period. I will report my findings…

Upgrade Assistant and Media Creation Tools


Some of the Media Creation Tools are giving a 404 error… The most problematic ones are the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant (needed for Windows Vista and Windows XP systems) and Windows 8.1 with Update 2 Media Creation Tool.

Windows 10 Product Family

Windows 10 TH2 Media Creation Tool -ok

Landing Page: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

Direct Download Link: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=691209

File name and size: MediaCreationTool (18,016 KB)

Remarks: Watch out for Windows 7 to Windows 10 TH2 Upgrade changes English (UK) to English (US). Download the .iso, make a Bootable USB and Upgrade from that.

Windows 10 TH2 TechBench .isos – ok

Landing Page: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/techbench

Windows 10 TH2 Academic Media Creation Tool – ok

Landing Page: http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/vlacademicwindows10

Direct Download Link: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=691208

File name and size: MediaCreationToolRetail.exe (18,016 JB)

Remarks: File name mentions Retail but it is Academic. Requires Product Key and does not allow selection of language or architecture.

Windows 10 TH1 64 Bit Media Creation Tool – ok

Former Landing Page: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

Direct Download Link: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=616936

File name and size: MediaCreationToolx64 (19,272 KB)

Remarks: Was Upgrade Only caused issues with Windows 7 and Windows 8.x OEM licenses. Windows 7 to Windows 10 TH1 Upgrade changes English (UK) to English (US).

Windows 10 TH1 32 Bit Media Creation Tool – ok

Former Landing Page: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

Direct Download Link: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=616935

File name and size: MediaCreationTool (17,850 KB)

Remarks: Was Upgrade Only caused issues with Windows 7 and Windows 8.x OEM licenses. Windows 7 to Windows 10 TH1 Upgrade changes English (UK) to English (US).

Windows 8.x Product Family

Some links for Windows 8 and Windows 8.x Media Creation Tools/Upgrade Assistants are giving 404 Errors.

Windows 8.1 with Update 2 Media Creation Tool – 404 error

Landing Page: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-8/create-reset-refresh-media

Direct Download Link: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=510815

File name and size: mediacreationtool.exe (1,449 KB)

Remarks: Lacked Windows 8.1 with Bing OEM and Windows 8.1 Single Language with Bing OEM .isos.

Windows 8.1 with Update 1 Retail Only Downloader (requires a product key) – ok

Landing Page: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows-8/upgrade-product-key-only

Direct Download Link: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=271128

File name and information: OSGS14-WindowsSetupBox-32bitand64bit-English-4141408 (6,281 KB)

Remarks: Is Windows 8.1 Retail only blocking Windows 8 Retail Keys and all OEM keys.

Windows 8.1 Retail Only Downloader (requires a product key) – 404 Error

Former Landing Page: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows-8/upgrade-product-key-only

Direct Download Link: http://web.esd.microsoft.com/W81GA/81GF9D695DA9DF8D56B2BC5B7356B5DA9D89D29D69/WindowsSetupBox.exe

File Name and Information: WindowsSetupBox.exe (4,839 KB)

Remarks: Was Windows 8.1 Retail only blocking Windows 8 Retail Keys and all OEM keys. Tricks with the Windows 8 Retail Only Downloader and generic product keys could be used with a Windows 8 Retail key.

Windows 8.0 Retail Only Downloader (requires a product key) – 404 Error

Former Landing Page: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows-8/upgrade-product-key-only

Direct Download Link: http://web.esd.microsoft.com/W8DL/DFB736WD8A9DFB5B1D8DFD92C5B1DSEC5B18956/Windows8-Setup.exe

File name and information: Windows8-Setup.exe (5,359 KB)

Remarks: Was Windows 8.0 Retail only blocking Windows 8.1 Retail Keys and all OEM keys.

Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant – Ok

Landing Page: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-8/upgrade-assistant-download-online-faq

Direct Link: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=261871

OSGS14-WindowsUpgradeAssistant-32bitand64bit-ClientSKU-4141411.exe (6,281 KB)

Remarks: Cannot be ran on Windows Vista or Windows XP.

Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant – 404 Error

Landing Page: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-8/upgrade-assistant-download-online-faq

Direct Link: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=321548

File name and size: Windows8-UpgradeAssistant.exe (5,359 KB)

Consider Windows Vista End of Life


Browser Support Limited

Internet Explorer 11 will be the only version of Internet Explorer Supported come January 2016.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/search?sort=PN&alpha=internet%20explorer

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/WindowsForBusiness/End-of-IE-support

Although Windows Vista “supposedly” reaches End of Life in April 2017:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/lifecycle

The fact that the latest version of Internet Explorer supported for Windows Vista is Internet Explorer 9 means Windows Vista has effectively reached End of Life. No Security Updates for Internet Explorer may make it no longer safe to use.

Google are also dropping Windows Vista support for Chrome in April 2016 as they agree that Microsoft no longer actively support this Operating System:

http://chrome.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/updates-to-chrome-platform-support.html

Office Support

The latest version of Office for Windows Vista is Office 2010. It never got support for Office 2013 or later:

https://products.office.com/en-us/office-system-requirements?legRedir=true&CorrelationId=10b56602-53b7-492c-a312-a67e1ffc4190

The Latest version of Windows Live Essentials for Windows Vista was Windows Live Essentials 2011. You’ve guessed it, this version too is at End of Life:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/essentials-2011

Driver Support

Almost all major venders eg. Intel, AMD, NVidia provide no new drivers for Windows Vista. This means new peripherals may not work with a Windows Vista PC.

What to Do if I’m Still Running Vista?

First you should assess the value of your system… If your systems hardware passes the minimum system requirements to Windows 10, most PCs shipped with Windows Vista will be capable then you should consider migrating to Windows 10. Unfortunately there is no “Official Free Upgrade” however the “Unofficial Free Upgrade” path via the expired Windows 10130 Insider Preview Works Well… I document this in detail here Windows Vista → Windows 10 Insider Build 10130 (Clean) → Windows 10 TH2 Pro. Although the Insider Preview Build 10130 expired in October 2015 workarounds to change the date to September 2015 still allows the Windows Insider Preview 10130 to act as an eligible Windows Edition to upgrade to Windows 10 TH2 Pro. This “Unofficial Free Upgrade” path has worked for the last 3 months…

If your system was very low end and fails to pass even these minimum requirements its time to buy a new system. If on a budget a second hand ex-business Dell OptiPlex 780 Desktop or Latitude E series with a Windows 7 OEM license and free upgrade to Windows 10 TH2 are good choices. Personally I do not recommend upgrading a system which contains DDR RAM, IDE HDDs or a single core processor. Anything like Intel 915GM graphics or worse won’t cut Windows 10 and even you get it to install it will be woefully slow. The minimum hardware I would recommend upgrading is a Dell latitude D820 with a Intel Core Duo T7200, 2 GB DDR2 PC2-5300 RAM and Intel 945 graphics.

Checking Windows 10 System Requirements

If you aren’t sure whether your legacy hardware running Windows XP/Vista is capable of running Windows 10 run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant (which runs on XP and Vista). The system requirements are almost identical for 32 Bit Windows 8.1 and 32 Bit Windows 10.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=321548

Simply run the upgrade assistant:

vlcsnap-2015-12-28-23h04m04s797

It will scan your computer to determine whether its compatible:

vlcsnap-2015-12-28-23h04m24s160

Click see compatibility details:

vlcsnap-2015-12-28-23h04m37s764

The compatibility details may show some of the following details to review:

vlcsnap-2015-12-28-23h07m37s181

You are looking for it to state issues specifically about your hardware.

The 4 issues it lists in this case aren’t significant:

  • Install an App to play a DVD. – No problem install VLC player after Windows 10 TH2 installation.
  • SecureBoot isn’t compatible with your PC. – No problem Windows 10 can run in a legacy BIOS using the MBR partition scheme. It won’t perform as well and will be less secure than a newer system with these technologies.
  • Sidebar Gadgets aren’t supported. – No problem, few people use these and the Apps in the Windows 10 Store are far superior.
  • Your screen resolution isn’t compatible with snap. – No problem the screen resolution for Windows 10 was lowered to support 800×600 as a minimum.

 

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