- Notes on the Free Upgrade from Windows 7/8.1/10130 to Windows 10
- Determine your Windows 10 Edition when your Windows 7/8.1/10130/10 can Boot
- Downloading the Windows 10 .iso
- English File Sizes
- Create a Bootable USB Flash Drive
- The Initial Upgrade
- Microsoft Product Activation Check
- Windows 10 Clean Installation
Notes on the Free Upgrade from Windows 7/8.1 to Windows 10 TH2
Unlike TH1 the Initial Free Upgrade to Windows 10 was "Upgrade Only" now we have the ability to directly Clean Install Windows 10 TH2 using the following licenses. Note Windows 10 TH2 is also called Windows 10 1511 (Build 10586).
Windows 10 TH2 is available as a Free Upgrade for all Windows 7 OEM and Windows 8.1 OEM licenses
- TH2 installation media will automatically input and accept Windows 8 OEM, Windows 8.1 OEM and Windows 10 OEM Product Keys automatically activating and registering the systems hardware profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server when online making the system a Windows 10 Device.
- TH2 installation media will accept Windows 7 OEM Product Keys automatically activating and registering the systems hardware profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server when online making the system a Windows 10 Device.
- Systems with Faded Windows 7 COAs require either Windows 10 TH1 or TH2 initially installed as an Upgrade via the Windows 7 Desktop and not a direct clean install via UEFI BIOS. Upon the initial Upgrade the systems hardware profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server when online making the system a Windows 10 Device.
Windows 10 TH2 is also available as a Free Upgrade for Windows 7 Retail and Windows 8.1 Retail licenses
- TH2 installation media will accept Windows 7 Full Retail and Windows 8.1 Full Retail Product Keys automatically activating and registering the systems hardware profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server when online making the system a Windows 10 Device.
- TH2 installation media will accept Windows 7 Upgrade Only Retail and Windows 8 Upgrade Only Retail Product Keys automatically activating and registering the systems hardware profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server when online making the system a Windows 10 Device.
- Retail Upgrade Only Product Keys for Windows 7 and Windows 8 are hence no longer Upgrade Only and act in an identical manner as Full Product Keys allowing for Direct Clean Installation with Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media. With Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media the concept of "Upgrade Only" requiring a double, triple or worse install is abolished to a thing of the past.
Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media does not accept Volume License or Enterprise Keys.
What Edition of Windows 10 TH2 will I get?
The Edition of Windows 10 you will get corresponds to your old Edition of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. See the table below.
More information is given below on OEM licenses, product keys and Microsoft nomenclature which is confusing upon the first encounter.
Version = Product Family e.g. Windows 7 Product Family, Windows 8 Product Family, Windows 8.1 Product Family or Windows 10 Product Family.
Edition = Subset of the Windows 10 Product Family. e.g. the Windows 10 Product family contains 5 Editions; Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Home Single Language, Windows 10 N, Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 N. From now on I will denote "Edition" in quotes as meaning either of these depending on your specific license.
Architecture = 64 Bit or 32 Bit and 64 Bit recommended in all cases especially with a UEFI BIOS and SecureBoot. Theres not much hardware sold with a Windows 7 OEM or later license that doesn't support 64 Bit Windows which is now the standard. Use only 32 Bit when you have a legacy application (and in that case a Virtual Machine is recommended). There is no discrimination between licenses, 64 and 32 Bit installation media will treat keys from Windows licenses in the same manner.
Windows 8 OEM, Windows 8.1 OEM and Windows 10 OEM Product Keys
For Windows 8/8.1/10 OEM the Windows 10 TH2 installation media will automatically input your UEFI BIOS Embedded System Locked Preinstallation Key during installation provided you have the correct Edition selected.
If you are installing the wrong Edition you will be asked for a key. Unfortunately Microsoft were not very clear on identifying different Editions of OEM licenses when they couldn't boot. You therefore may have to download the 5 different .isos in a trial/error fashion however here is some details regarding the stickers:
Windows 10 Home Editions:
- Windows 10 Home Most Common
- Windows 10 Single Language Common
- Windows 10 Home N Rare
Note for Windows 10
- Windows 8.1 (Home) with Bing = Windows 8.1 (Home)
- Windows 8.1 (Home) Single Language with Bing = Windows 8.1 Single Language (Home)
Windows 10 Pro Editions:
- Windows 10 Pro Most Common
- Windows 10 ProN Rare
Before clean installing Windows 10 you should ensure that you have the latest UEFI BIOS revision installed see Updating your (UEFI) BIOS. You should also ensure that you have UEFI and SecureBoot enabled see (UEFI) BIOS Settings.
This tutorial video covers updating the (UEFI) BIOS, checking your UEFI BIOS and SecureBoot settings.
Although you shouldn't need your UEFI BIOS Embedded OEM SLP key as it should be automatically input during installation. You may also use the Windows Product Key Tool or RWEverything to obtain your UEFI BIOS Embedded SLP Key from your MSDM tab:
These utilities give the findings from the MSDM table if you have a UEFI BIOS embedded SLP key. The Windows Product Key Tool directly gives you your key from the MSDM table whereas RWEverything requires you to launch ACPI tables and then open the MSDM tab.
No MSDM table = No UEFI BIOS Embedded OEM SLP Key:
Windows 7 OEM Product Keys
For Windows 7 you will need to input the sticker on the COA which should be affixed to your system. To prevent COA fading the COA is likely in the battery compartment of Laptops and inside the computer cover of Desktops. Use your smartphone to take a picture of it.
Before clean installing Windows 10 you should ensure that you have the latest UEFI BIOS revision installed see Updating your (UEFI) BIOS. You should also check to see whether or not you have UEFI and SecureBoot see (UEFI) BIOS Settings. If you have these technologies you will need to make the Windows 10 TH2 Bootable USB correctly. Do not change the UEFI (BIOS) settings until you have made the Bootable USB and are ready to begin the Windows 10 TH2 install.
This tutorial video covers updating the (UEFI) BIOS, checking your UEFI BIOS and SecureBoot settings and looking at your COA.
During installation of Windows 10 "Edition" your systems hardware profile is registered with a Microsoft Product Activation server and is classified as a Windows 10 "Edition" Device.
Once a Device is a Windows 10 "Edition" Device there is no need to input the product key during installation and I don't have a Product Key can be selected for convenience. If the correct "Edition" of Windows 10 is selected Windows will reobtain your Windows 10 "Edition" Device activation status from the Microsoft Product Activation server automatically activating your Windows 10 "Edition" Device.
Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 using the Media Creation Tool does not require input of the Windows 7 OEM key and also registers your systems hardware as a Windows 10 "Edition" Device. If you have a faded COA the Initial Upgrade is the only way of making your Device a Windows 10 Device.
Windows 10 Insider Build 10130 Free Upgrades
Unless your system had an additional Windows 7/8.x OEM/Retail license you will not have a product key. After the upgrade from 10130 to 10240 (TH1) Pro your system is classified as a Windows 10 Pro Device and registered with a Microsoft Product Activation Server meaning you can select I don't have a product key and select to install the Pro Insider Preview and your system will automatically reactivate when online.
If Microsoft implements my suggestion to have all 5 Editions of Windows 10 on the same .iso which will solve a lot of installation hassles and confusion about Editions. Those who upgraded from upgraded from the Windows Insider Build 10130 will still have made their systems Windows 10 Pro Devices. However due to the fact that you don't have a unique Windows 10 Pro product key from the Windows Insider Preview and the installation media will automatically pick up the UEFI Embedded product key. The following will happen if you directly clean install with Windows 10 TH2 installation media:
- Windows 8.1 OEM, Windows 8.1 with Bing OEM → Windows 10 Home
- Windows 8.1 Single Language OEM, Windows 8.1 Single Language with Bing OEM → Windows 10 Home Single Language
- Windows 8.1N OEM→ Windows 10 Home N
- Windows 8.1 Pro → Windows 10 Pro
- Windows 8.1 ProN OEM→ Windows 10 ProN
i.e. you will automatically be correctly licensed for your base OEM license. Its possible an EI.cfg file can be added to the Bootable USB to automatically select Windows 10 Pro but we'll need to see when we get the .iso.
Gabe Aul did previously promise the Free Upgrade for Windows Insiders however I will note that other sites are debating whether or not you are licensed correctly…you can see the counter-arguments of Windows Licensing Nazis who want you to pay full retail price for Windows 10 presented here Windows 10 Upgrade and Installation FAQ: We Figured out who pays and who doesn't. Note the same site earlier reported this as a Free Upgrade path How to Turn your Windows 10 Insider Preview into Windows 10 RTM.
I will note a few things however:
- The premature Removal of the Windows 7 Digital River installation .isos (February 2015) before Windows 10 TH1 Build 10240 (July 2015) meant those who used the Windows Insider Preview were stuck on Windows 10 Pro i.e. their system registered with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and became a Windows 10 Pro Device and not a Windows 10 Home Device. However TH2 itself will allow Windows Insiders who Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic and Windows 7 Home Premium to take their free upgrade to Windows 10 Home opposed to Windows 10 Pro should they wish.
- Removal of the Product Activation of Windows 10 Pro Devices Upgraded via Windows Insider 10130 would extremely inconvenience users with valid Windows 7 OEM licenses and faded Windows 7 COAs.
- Users who used Insider Build 10130 to upgrade from Windows Vista or Windows XP (with capable hardware) are extremely unlikely to pay full retail price for Windows 10 as the hardware is ageing and the value of the Device is less than that of the Full Retail license in many cases. I personally suggest that Microsoft allow all these users to install Windows 10. These users can evaluate how well Windows 10 runs on their device and Microsoft should make the license extremely cheap if the hardware is weak but capable i.e. if the hardware is of the age between 2007-2010 the license should cost no more than $20. This will help with the eradication of Windows Vista and reduce Windows XP usage.
- Because of 1. and 2 and particularly the combination of both 1. and 2… Microsoft are extremely unlikely to stop the continued use of Windows 10 Pro on Devices that have became Windows 10 Pro Devices via the Upgrade from Windows 10130 Insider Preview.
- My guide extends this Unofficial Upgrade Path past the expiry date with some subtle tricks.
Windows 10 Device
Its worth clarifying what exactly a Windows 10 Device is. Your Desktop, Tablet, Laptop or hybrid PC is a device. The device incorporates a motherboard and additional components such as CPU, RAM, Graphics Card and Hard Drive. Although all these additional components and others (e.g. wireless card) can be changed it is still regarded as the same device. The change of a motherboard turns your PC into a new Device. Windows 10 product Activation is Device Based.
Windows 10 Device – A Device that has Windows 10 previously installed and activated. Any Device Upgraded from a Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10130 Version to Windows 10 Version with the correct corresponding edition will automatically activate online and its hardware profile will be submitted and registered with a Microsoft Product Activation server. The Device will now forever be classified as a Windows 10 Device. There are thus 5 different types of Windows 10 Devices corresponding to the" Edition":
- Windows 10 Home Device – A Device which had Windows 10 Home previously installed, registered its Hardware Profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and Activated.
- Windows 10 Home N Device – A Device which had Windows 10 Home N previously installed, registered its Hardware Profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and Activated.
- Windows 10 Home Single Language Device – A Device which had Windows 10 Home Single Language previously installed, registered its Hardware Profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and Activated.
- Windows 10 Pro Device – A Device which had Windows 10 Pro previously installed, registered its Hardware Profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and Activated.
- Windows 10 Pro N Device – A Device which had Windows 10 Pro N previously installed, registered its Hardware Profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and Activated.
Technically you can buy multiple Windows licenses for the same Device. One Device for example may be classified as both a Windows 10 Home Device and a Windows 10 Pro Device.
Don't Have Windows 7/Windows 8.1 – Buy Windows 10
If your hardware is Windows 10 capable you can buy Windows 10. One of the cheapest places to buy a Full license is Amazon available as a Bootable USB:
At this point you should access the relative worth of your systems hardware particular if your hard drive has failed.
Look to the deals Dell are having on their Desktops and Laptops.
If on a budget you might be able to buy a second hand system with a Windows 7 OEM license for a similar price as a new Windows 10 license and have better hardware to take the "Free" Upgrade to Windows 10. I recommend OptiPlex 780 Desktops with Windows 7 Pro OEM licenses as they are robust second hand Business Desktops and many are being sold second hand for a cheap price. If looking for a second hand laptop again look to second hand business laptops such as the Latitude E Series beginning with E5 or E6. Check to ensure that they have a Windows 7 OEM COA before buying.
You may also try the Unofficial Upgrade path via the Expired 10130 Insider Preview with a few additional workarounds.
Determining your Edition from System when Windows 7/8.1/10 Can Boot
Before opting to Download a Windows 10 TH2 .iso and making Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media you will need to determine your Windows Edition.
Right click the start button and select system:
If you don't get this menu press [Windows] and [x] to see if you can bring it up (Windows 8) or left click start and then right cli