Windows XP or Windows Vista to Windows 10 RS1 Free Upgrade


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The Free Upgrade Path expired on the 2nd of October 2015. With some trickery one could change the date and continue to activate Windows 10130 Insider Preview to use as a stepping stone to Windows 10 Pro. On the 26th of August 2016 Microsoft patched their Product Activation Servers. Consequently the Windows 10130 Insider Preview Path cannot be activated, terminating this Free Upgrade path.

Note: If you have already made your system a Windows 10 Pro Device using the Windows 10130 path it’ll continue to work.

This guide reached 160,000 views before the 26th of August 2016… meaning a significant number of Windows Vista OEM machines were made Windows 10 Pro Devices using this route. This Unofficial Free Upgrade Path allowed new Windows 10 Pro Activations for a Period of 1 Year Unofficially aligning with Microsoft’s initial official marketing for Free Upgrades from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

You will get the following error message:

“Error 0x80072F8F On a computer running Microsoft Windows non-core edition, run ‘slui.exe 0x2a 0x80072F8F’ to display the error text.”

10130 End

You will not be able to register a Windows Vista or Windows XP system via the 10130 Insider Preview with a Microsoft Product Activation server to make it a new Windows 10 Pro Device without buying a key.

Contents

This guide has complimentary tutorial videos.

Introduction – Why Consider Upgrading?

This is a Dell based guide but will work on non-Dell systems also. The only differences are the keys [F2] and [F12] to enter the BIOS setup and opt for the one-time Boot menu may be different. You should also check for BIOS updates from your perspective OEMs website.

01 August 2016 OS Marketshare 1 in 100 computers run Windows Vista and 10 in 100 computers run Windows XP… While Microsoft hasn’t formally extended the Free Windows 10 Upgrade to these Operating Systems unofficially they allow an unofficial free upgrade via the Windows 10130 Insider Preview…

End of OS Support

  • 11 Apr 2017: Windows Vista will reach End of Life (<1 year away) and no security patches will be released since. See here for more details. Windows 10 performs significantly better than Windows Vista and is significantly more secure.
  • 08 Apr 2014: Windows XP reached End of Life (>2 years ago) and no security patches have been released since. See here for more details. Windows 10 performs significantly better than Windows XP if the hardware meets minimum requirements and is significantly more secure.

End of Browser Support

  • 12 Jan 2016: Support for all versions of Internet Explorer except for Internet Explorer 11. See here for more details.
  • 01 May 2016: Google have just dropped support for Windows Vista and Windows XP.

When Chrome is launched a yellow warning will display stating:

“This computer will no longer receive Google Chrome Updates because Windows XP and Windows Vista are no longer supported.” Learn more.

Chrome Message

This means that the continued use of Google Chrome and these Operating Systems in general should be considered insecure. It hasn’t happened currently however eventually websites may block out of date versions of Chrome and Internet Explorer 9.

This gives a primary security exploit…

Bank Robber

Needless to say don’t use an unsupported browser (i.e. anything running on a Windows Vista or Windows XP Operating System) for:

  • Online Banking
  • Paypal
  • eBay
  • Amazon

etc. etc.

End of Driver Support

No new drivers will be created for new peripherals (e.g. that new printer) for these legacy Operating Systems.

The Unofficial Free Upgrade Path

Microsoft did not provide an Official Free Upgrade Path for Windows XP or Windows Vista to Windows 10 RS1.

Disclaimer: This is an Unofficial Upgrade path and has no support from Dell or Microsoft. However any system shipped with Windows XP or Windows Vista won’t have any official support anyway as the warranty has long expired… and both Operating Systems are more or less at End of Life.

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The Windows Insider Build 10130 was the last Windows Insider Build to utilise a generic product key for Microsoft Product Activation. With this build Microsoft let all Windows Insiders Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free. This upgrade path can be used to upgrade any legacy system that satisfies Windows 10’s minimum system requirements. I focus primarily on systems shipped with Windows Vista OEM and secondary with systems shipped with Windows XP OEM. This guide can also be used on VMs as discussed here.

Microsoft may stop Activation of Windows 10130 Insider Preview at any point in time which would effectively shut down this unofficial upgrade path for good. In testing this Unofficial Upgrade path works 10 months after the expiry date of build 10130, moreover it works with RS1 installation media which was released 10 months after the expiry date on Windows 10 Insider Build 10130.

I have last tested this on the 10/08/2016 on a VM. I have made a YouTube recording on the 03/08/2016.

Before upgrading its recommended that your BIOS revision is up to date. This guide will result in Data loss so its recommended you back up all your data to an external hard drive. If you are sceptical about this upgrade path or unsure how well your legacy system will run Windows 10 make sure you’ve made an Macrium Reflect Backup so you can revert to Windows Vista.

Gathering Details about your System

Press [Windows] and [ r ] and type in msinfo32 and press [Enter]. Top images are for Windows XP and bottom Windows Vista.

msinfo32 xp a

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You will be told the following (I will give some notes below):

msinfo32 xp b

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As the Processor information for Windows XP is a bit cryptic you may also want to right click the start button and right click My Computer and select Properties:

system xp c

This will give you the model of your processor and installed physical memory (RAM):

system xp d

OS Name and Version

This doesn’t matter too much in this guide as you are going to use the Windows 10130 Insider Preview as your base Windows OS. This will give you Windows 10 Pro as a Free Upgrade in all cases.

System Model and System Manufacturer

Its important to know both your system manufacturer and system model. This information may be required when checking to see if you need to update your system BIOS or in the rare cases need to look for drivers later. If commenting on a successful install please include this information.

SMBIOS version

Take a note of the SMBIOS version.

Systems with an SMBIOS of 2.3 (Early Windows XP) or earlier are not Windows Vista/7/8.x or 10 compatible. This likely includes yucky hardware such as a Pentium 4 or worse, DDR RAM or worse, a IDE HDD or worse and Intel 915GM graphics or worse. All which belong in a museum.

This guide mainly focuses on systems with an SMBIOS version of 2.4 (Early Windows Vista systems) or 2.5 (Late Windows Vista systems).

  • Earlier Windows Vista systems like the Latitude D820 shown may have a processor with a 32 Bit instruction set only. This systems processor was upgraded from an Intel T2600 which has a 32 Bit instruction set to an Intel T7200 which has a 64 Bit instruction set. 64 Bit Windows can only run on a processor with a 64 Bit instruction set but 32 Bit Windows can run on either. Hint if you have an Intel Processor search for the “Intel Ark Processor #” e.g. “Intel Ark T7200”.
  • Late Windows Vista systems should all be Windows 10 64 Bit compatible.

Note for systems with an SMBIOS of 2.6 you likely have a Windows 7 OEM COA and can carry out the Official Upgrade Path unless the COA is faded. The OptiPlex 390 shown as an example is utilising OEM downgrades from Windows 7 Professional to Windows XP Professional.

This guide does not support systems with a UEFI BIOS (version 2.7 or later) which should have a Windows 8.x/10 UEFI BIOS OEM SLP key or Windows 7 OEM COA and be eligible for the Official Upgrade Path. These systems may also have newer hardware unsupported by the 10130 .iso. See Download a Windows 10 OEM and Retail .iso for the Official Upgrade Path.

BIOS Version

The BIOS should be updated to the latest version available before upgrading to Windows 10 as the BIOS updater may not run correctly on Windows 10. For convenience I will list the latest BIOS Update for all Dell systems (except Alienware) that were sold during the sales period of Windows Vista as well as the date of the system model. If using a non-Dell check with your system manufacturer’s driver and downloads page.

Adamo Desktops

Dimension Desktops

Inspiron Desktops

Inspiron Laptops

Latitude Laptops

OptiPlex Desktops

Precision Desktops

Precision Laptops

Studio Desktops

Studio Laptops

Vostro Desktops

Vostro Laptops

XPS Desktops

XPS Laptops

Installing the Latest BIOS Update

The BIOS update is a firmware update. This type of update updates the firmware for your system BIOS. You launch the BIOS update within Windows but the computer restarts and updates the BIOS within BIOS. Therefore once a BIOS update is applied it remains applied even if Windows is reinstalled.

Note An incorrect BIOS update has the potential to kill your computer entirely.

Before updating the BIOS its advisable to make sure all programs are closed.

For Windows XP double click the BIOS Update. For Windows Vista right click the BIOS update and select run as an administrator.

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For Windows Vista you’ll need to accept the User Account Control prompt:

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The BIOS update will then launch and tell you what revision you have and what revision the BIOS flash is.

If you are up to date or equal to the BIOS revision or its unsupported as in the case of my XPS 8300 it will tell you and will not allow you to flash only giving you the option to quit:

xps8300a

If its supported it will allow you to select continue:

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Click ok

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The computer will then restart and restart the BIOS update.

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DO NOT DISTURB THE COMPUTER DURING THIS TIME and certainly do not cut power. If you do then likely you will kill the computer entirely.

Once the computer loads into Windows some of the BIOS updates will re-launch automatically but then will tell you that you have the latest version already so just click cancel. You may then delete the BIOS update from the Desktop.

Some BIOS updates may require perquisite BIOS updates as mentioned. Try to update the BIOS in the least number of steps.

You can then recheck msinfo32 to see if the BIOS update has applied correctly:

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Additional Notes on Systems Shipped with Windows XP/Vista OEM Licenses

Officially there is no free upgrade from genuine Windows Vista or Windows XP to genuine Windows 10 so we will need to utilise the Unofficial Windows 10130 Upgrade path in all these cases.

Can My Hardware Run Windows 10?

All of the systems listed with SMBIOS 2.5 can run Windows 10 64 Bit without any issues providing enough RAM is installed (4 GB preferred) and the necessary processor technologies should be enabled by default you can proceed directly to Download Links and Prepaing a Windows 10 Bootable USB.

Systems with an SMBIOS of 2.4 may be limited by a processor with a 32 Bit set and thus stuck on Windows 10 32 Bit. Systems with an SMBIOS of 2.4 may need the PAE, NX or SSE2 settings enabled in the Legacy BIOS setup in order to install Windows 10. This will be discussed below.

If you aren’t sure whether your legacy hardware with an SMBIOS of 2.4 running Windows XP/Vista is Windows 10 capable or whether you need to enable PAE, NX or SSE2 run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant which is the last Upgrade Assistant than runs on XP and Vista. The system requirements are almost identical for 32 Bit Windows 8.1 and 32 Bit Windows 10. The Upgrade Assistant can be found here:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=75EFF52D7710B6E9!721&authkey=!AOhXrY_SIbN59Ac&ithint=folder%2cexe

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=321548 (Removed by Microsoft 16/03/2016 as Windows 8 is at End of Life)

Simply run the upgrade assistant:

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It will scan your computer to determine whether its compatible:

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Click see compatibility details:

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

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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 RS1 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.

A fifth common problem that the tool often reports is that mandatory processor security technologies PAE, NX, and SSE2 aren’t present or disabled in the BIOS setup. If you do not have an error message mentioning PAE, NX or SSE2 continue directly to Download Links and Prepaing a Windows 10 Bootable USB.

To Enter your Legacy BIOS setup. Power down your computer. Wait 10 seconds and power it up. Press [F2] at the Dell BIOS Screen. Other OEMs may use a different function key or [Esc].

1. Dell BIOS

This will take you to the BIOS setup. Your BIOS setup may look slightly different to mine but the procedure should be similar. Read the instructions at the bottom of the BIOS setup for instructions.

I will press the [↓] key until I get to Security:

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Then I will press [Enter] to expand the Security category:

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Now I am going to look for processor or CPU related Security fields. In my case I have the field CPU No-eXecute Support so I will highlight that field and press [Enter].

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Then I will make sure that CPU No-eXecute support is enabled:

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Then I will press [Esc] to Exit the BIOS setup:

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Then opt to Exit the BIOS setup.

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These may also be mapped to different keys, some BIOS will have [Esc] as the key to exit the BIOS setup discarding changes and the [F10] as the button to exit the BIOS setup but saving changes. As I said read the instructions on your screen to confirm.

If you have had to enable these security technologies boot into Windows XP or Windows Vista and rerun the upgrade advisor. Make sure it doesn’t have the same error message about PAE, NX or SSE2.

Download Links and Preparing a Windows 10 Bootable USB

You will need 2×8 GB USB flash drives for this step.

On the first one you will need to prepare a Windows 10130 Bootable USB and on the second one you will need to prepare a Windows 10 RS1 (Build 14393/version 1607) Bootable USB.

Because you are performing an upgrade install you cannot cross architectures. Use the 32 Bit 10130 .iso with the 32 Bit 14393 .iso alternatively the 64 Bit 10130 .iso with the 64 Bit 14393 .iso.

10130 Insider Preview .iso

As the Insider Preview has expired Microsoft have removed it from their server. It may be found in the following unofficial download location:

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B7NmwbOVcSyzU3BBMGhHblJBcTA&usp=sharing

both x86 and x64

The file sizes for the 10130 Insider Preview .iso are as follows:

10130 sizes

It doesn’t matter that is English US only as its only going to be used as an intermediate stepping stone.

Since the 10130 .iso is Downloaded from an unofficial source I recommend however installing the latest version of 7-zip and checking the CRC SHA. Once 7-zip is installed, simply right click the .iso and select CRC SHA and then select the *:

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This will give you the various checksums and they should match the checksums below.

If they are different you will have an incomplete/corrupt download.

10130 x86 10130 x64

14393 RS1 .iso

The Download Link for Windows 10 RS1 is here:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10ISO

As Windows XP/Vista aren’t supported with the Windows 10 RS1 Media Creation Tool Direct Links will be shown.

Once on this page scroll down:

Use of Techbench

Select Windows 10 as the Edition. Do not select Windows 10N or Windows 10 Home Single Language.

Wait for the .iso to Download.

Rufus

One will also need to Download Rufus to make the Bootable USBs:

Rufus does not need to be installed and can be run directly by double clicking on the application.

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If on Vista or later accept the User Account Control Prompt:

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Don’t bother checking for updates as you likely already have the latest version:

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Load the .iso:

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For the 1st USB select the 10130 .iso. When you repeat the procedure for the 2nd USB select the RS1 (Build 14393/version 1607) .iso.

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Ensure your USB is shown here:

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Since its assumed you’re using a computer shipped with Late Windows XP, Windows Vista or Early Windows 7 you won’t have a UEFI BIOS. Ensure you are using the MBR partition scheme for (Legacy) BIOS.

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Ensure the MBR Partition Scheme for BIOS or UEFI_CSM is selected and the File System is NTFS.

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Select Ok:

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Wait for Rufus to make the Bootable USB. When it says Ready close Rufus.

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Repeat this procedure with your second USB flash Drive and the RS1 (Build 14393/version 1607) .iso.

Changing the Time in your BIOS Setup

Power down your computer. Wait 10 seconds and power it up. Press [F2] at the Dell BIOS Screen. Other OEMs may use a different function key or [Esc].

1. Dell BIOS

This will take you to the BIOS setup. Your BIOS setup may look slightly different to mine but the procedure should be similar. Read the instructions at the bottom of the BIOS setup for instructions.

“I set a date with an Yankee lassie on the 10/02 (10th of February) and she arrived late on the 10/02 (2nd of October).”

I have deliberately set the date for the 09/09/2015 (9th of September) – this way there is no confusion between British and American date/time formats.

I will press the [↓] key until I get to Data/Time:

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Then I will press [Enter] to enter the field:

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I will then press [→] until I get to the month.

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I will press the [↓] key until I get to September. I will press the [→] key until I get to the year and press the [↓] key until I get to 2015.

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Then I will press [Enter] to finish modifying the date:

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The time in my BIOS setup is now September 2015.

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I will now press [Esc] to exit the setup.

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Before exiting I will insert my Windows 10130 Insider Bootable USB into one of the free USB ports. I will make sure all other USB ports are empty with the exception of mouse and keyboard. If you have an Ethernet cable plugged into your system also ensure that you remove it.

Then I will press [→] to get to Exit and then press [Enter].

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Note for some BIOS setups you will get the option to Exit Discarding Changes or Exit saving changes.

These may also be mapped to different keys, some BIOS will have [Esc] as the key to exit the BIOS setup discarding changes and the [F10] as the button to exit the BIOS setup but saving changes. As I said read the instructions on your screen to confirm.

When you exit the Dell BIOS setup you will see the Dell BIOS screen again. Ensure you hit F12 to get to the Boot Menu:

1

Press the [↓] until you highlight the USB Storage Device and then press [Enter].

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Press any key when prompted such as “h" when it says Press any Key to boot from CD/DVD.

Clean Install Build 10130

0

Select your language and keyboard settings (if using the .iso from the unofficial location, you will need to select English (United States) as the Language as this .iso is locked to that language. The time and currency format and keyboard or input method can be set to your desired preference however. I have selected English (United Kingdom). When you have selected your preferences select next:

1

Select Install now:

2

3

Accept the license agreement:

4

As always select custom (advanced):

5

This is the screen you can load SATA drivers on as normal however this installation media is from 2015 and should accommodate the hardware of all Windows Vista systems.

I advise selecting drive options and deleting everything on the drive so it only Disc 0 Unallocated Space (assuming you only have one drive installed) as shown below.

Drive Deletion1

Then select Drive 0 and select next:

6

Windows 10130 will then install:

10130Install

The computer will restart.

You will be given the setup options. Windows 10130 will try and instruct you to connect wireless to the internet (if you have a wireless card).

DO NOT CONNECT TO THE INTERNET AT THIS STAGE

If you connect to the internet, Windows 10130 will automatically sync its time/date settings with the Windows server and inform you that the build has expired. You will no longer be able to activate this build if this happens (and have to change the date in the BIOS setup and clean install 10130 offline again).

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You will be given setup options select express settings, theres no point in customising these settings as this is just an intermediate install which you will use directly to get to Windows 10RS1 (Build 14393/Version 1607):

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In the next screen input your username and select Next. I wouldn’t even bother inputting a password at this stage:

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The rest of the setup will be automated:

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You will now be on the 10130 Desktop to the bottom right, click the clock:

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Click change date and time settings:

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Select time and language:

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Turn set time automatically off:

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To input the generic product key, right click the start button and select Command Prompt (Admin):

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Accept the User Account Control prompt:

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Type in

slmgr /ipk 6P99N-YF42M-TPGBG-9VMJP-YKHCF

Then press [Enter]

10130

The dialogue box will come up telling you the product key is installed successfully. Press ok:

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Now connect to your wireless network or connect your Ethernet cable.

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Wait 5 minutes….

Type in

slmgr /ato

Press [Enter]:

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You will be informed that Windows is activated:

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If you get the following error message you have not connected to the Internet or have been too fast. Wait another minute and retype

slmgr /ato:

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If you get this error message however you have been online and Windows 10130 know you have went past the expiry date so you need to retry all the steps from the start of this guide.

10130 expired5

Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro RS1

Insert the Windows 10 RS1 (Build 14393/Version 1607) Bootable USB. Open the USB from within Windows Explorer:

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Double click the setup:

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Select yes at the User Account Control prompt:

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The Windows setup will load and prepare:

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On the following screen ensure you select Not at this Moment and uncheck “I want to help make installation of Windows Better”. Checking for Updates on the expired 10130 build may stall the installation. Then select next:

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Accept the license agreement:

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If you are changing language select ok here:

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Select Change what to keep:

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Select Nothing. This will give you a clean Windows 10 RS1 Install:

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Windows 14393 RS1 will then restart and begin the upgrade during which it will restart another three times:

RS1Upgrade

If you are connected to an ethernet or offline the next few screens won’t show. Select your wireless network:

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Input your wireless password and select next:

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Select customise settings and press “next" once you’ve made your desired selection on each page or use the express settings:

RS1 Settings1 (1) RS1 Settings1 (2) RS1 Settings1 (3) RS1 Settings1 (4) RS1 Settings1 (6) RS1 Settings1 (7)

Next select “I own it" for a home PC or “My organisation" for a work PC:

RS1 Settings1 (8)

For “I Own It" sign in with a Microsoft Account (recommended by Microsoft so you can use all of Microsoft’s services in particular OneDrive).

Alternatively skip this step and sign in with a local account. A Local Account can later be converted to a Microsoft Account if desired:

RS1 Settings1 (9)

The PC will configure the last stages and install Apps (which now work as Windows):

RS1 Settingsa (1) RS1 Settingsa (3)

RS1 Settingsa (2)

You can the opt to use Cortana or not:

RS1 Settings1 (10)

 

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You should now be in the Windows 10 Desktop:

RS1 Desktop

The date will be correct but the exact time might not be. You can go to date/time settings and correct it to match the actual time.

Wait 10 minutes and then right click the start button and select System:

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You should see that Windows is Activated and the Edition is Windows 10 Pro:

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If you have checked too early it may state to connect to the internet to activate. Leave it another 5-10 minutes. Restart your computer and recheck if its activated. In all my test cases it was.

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Now your system is a Windows 10 Pro Device. It won’t have a product key but its hardware profile is stored and registered with a Microsoft Product Activation server.

You don’t need to but you can clean install Windows 10 Pro at any time by skipping product key and it’ll automatically reactive your Device when online…

For more details about clean installation and the definition of the Windows 10 Pro Device and the product activation mechanism see Download Windows 10 OEM and Retail RS1 .iso. During installation skip product key and select Windows 10 RS1 Pro. Windows 10 RS1 Pro will automatically reactivate on your system as it is a Windows 10 TRS1 Pro Device. Feel free to use a Microsoft Account.

Microsoft’s Gabe Aul gave contradictory information on the legitimacy of this free upgrade path he stated in an Official Blog that Windows Insiders who took this upgrade path could either continue as a Windows Insider or the build would expire… In my testing neither of the mainstream builds TH1, TH2 or RS1 expired if one didn’t remain as a Windows Insider. Therefore unlike he states it does in actual fact work as an Unofficial Free Upgrade for Windows XP or Windows Vista…

Enjoy your Windows 10 Pro Device and please share this guide with friends.

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477 thoughts on “Windows XP or Windows Vista to Windows 10 RS1 Free Upgrade

  1. Hi Philip thanks for the guide. I have a quick question, I currently only have a 4gb usb and a 8gb usb handy. Do you think that will work? if so which file should I put the 4gb one. Or should I just shop another 8gb usb? Really want to get everything done today. Thanks

      1. Thanks for the quick response. I have another question. Can I turn “set time automatically” and “set time zone automatically” back on after the installation? Also can I run the updates afterward? Thanks

      2. After you upgrade to Windows 10 TH2 this setting will be automatically turned back on but Windows 10 TH2 will be activated. Also it will automatically update.

  2. Hey Phillip. Thanks for the guide but I have messed up somewhere and need some help. There are 3 files in the google drive link for the 10130 iso. I downloaded all 3, created a bootable USB and all went well. I then downloaded the 64 bit 10586 iso and created a bootable USB. When I plug it in and double click setup, I get a message saying “This app can’t run on your PC”. Any ideas? Thanks in advance.