Microsoft Windows OEM FAQs and Downloads

The Free Upgrade and Windows 7 End of Life

Windows 7 Reaches End of Life in just less than a week and despite Microsoft's website stating that the Free Upgrade period ended on the 29th of July 2019 all activation mechanisms for the Windows 7 OEM or Windows 8.x OEM to the Windows 10 Free Upgrade remain in place. I have extensively tested upgrading to Windows 10 Version 1909 on Devices (via a Clean Installation) that have a Windows 7 OEM License but that have never had any build of Windows 10 previously installed or activated.

  • Windows 8.x Reaches End of Life in January 2023 and Reached End of Mainstream Support in January 2018 however Windows 10 is a Free Upgrade to Windows 8.x.
  • Windows 7 Reached End of Life in January 2020 however Windows 10 is a Free Upgrade to Windows 7.
  • Windows Vista Reached End of Life in April 2017.
  • Windows XP Reached End of Life in April 2014.

OEM Licensing – Am I Licensed to Run Windows 10 on My Device/Where is My Product Key?

Windows 8.x/10 OEM UEFI Embedded Product Keys

Systems with the following stickers have a 25 digit Product Key embedded into the systems motherboard. Windows 10 Installation Media will automatically input it during installation selecting the correct Edition.

By Passing the Windows 8.x/10 OEM UEFI Embedded Product Keys

Windows 7 OEM Product Keys

Older systems had a sticker which stated the Edition of Windows 7 and an affixed 25 Digit Product Key. This key can be used for a one-time initial activation of Windows 10 during which the systems hardware profile (motherboard details) is submitted to a Microsoft Product Activation Server. For any subsequent installation the Product Key may be skipped and the Device will Activate when online as the Microsoft Product Activation Server will remember the systems hardware profile. The CoA states your Edition of Windows 7 and 25 Digit Product Key. Unfortunately the CoA is prone to fading and Dell as a consequence commonly placed them in the battery compartment for laptops.

Edition of Windows 7Edition of Windows 10 to Install
Home BasicHome
Home PremiumHome

If your CoA has faded, it is possible to upgrade your system to Windows 10 for free provided you have Windows 7 installed, activated and online:

Windows XP OEM and Windows Vista OEM Product Keys

These Product Keys are not Compatible with Windows 10 in a move to persuade users to migrate to newer hardware. A gentle reminder that the newest of these models are from 2008 and over a decade old. 2006-2008 models pass minimum system requirements (if they have been upgraded to a Solid State Drive) to run Windows 10 and one may install Windows 10 Home without a Product Key and run it unlicensed.

An unlicensed Windows 10 has a few limitations such as a watermarked Desktop and you are stuck with some of Windows 10 Default Settings that are grayed out.

Unlike previous builds of Windows you will not be forcefully logged out. The unlicensed Windows 10 gives at least equivalent functionality to Windows Vista and will be up to date opposed to being 2 years out of date and a large security risk. It is not worth purchasing a Full Retail OS License for these models as it normally exceeds the cost of second hand newer hardware which has a Windows 7 OEM, Windows 8.x OEM or Windows 10 OEM License. Moreover there will be no guarantee that Microsoft won't elevate system requirements at a later date for newer builds of Windows 10, locking out your model from receiving Updates. Notes about older Dell Models running Windows 10 and System Drivers are available here:

Creating Installation Media

The Media Creation Tool and Direct ISO Downloads are updated to Windows 10 Version 1909.

Upgrade Install

Performing A Clean Install

Requires creation of installation media.

Creating an Image of your Windows Installation and Recovering from it

System Drivers – OEM Driver Update Utilities

Office 365


Windows 8.1

This Windows Version is obsolete and has a very low usage/support base, you are better to clean install Windows 10 on your Device Instead.

Creating Installation Media

Clean Installation

Windows 7

Windows 7 Reached End of Life in January 2020.

The Last Windows 7 Compatible Dell

  • The Dell OptiPlex 7040
  • The Dell OptiPlex 3040

Installation Media

Standalone Updates


Clean Installation


Windows Vista

This Version of Windows Reached End of Life in April 2017. It wasn't a very popular Version of Windows and pretty much all Windows Vista compatible software ran better on Windows 7.

Windows XP

This Version of Windows Reached End of Life in April 2014. If you need for a specialist application you are best to create an Offline Virtual Machine.

The Last Windows XP Compatible Dell

  • The Dell OptiPlex 7010
  • The Dell OptiPlex 3010

Installation Media

Virtualisation of Windows XP

Clean Installation

System Drivers

Windows 98SE

Virtualisation of Windows 98SE


5 thoughts on “Microsoft Windows OEM FAQs and Downloads

  1. I just upgraded Dell Latitude E4200 running Windows XP to Windows 10 Pro 64 bit. First I used an original genuine Dell Windows 7 Pro 64 bit DVD to install Windows 7. Activation of Windows 7 was automatic.
    I then used the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool to install Windows 10 Pro 64 bit as an upgrade to Windows 7. Again activation of Windows 10 was automatic.

    1. Thanks for letting me know you had a successful fresh activation. That system has a Windows 7 Pro License (it would of had downgrade rights to Windows XP Pro) and now you have upgraded to Windows 10 Pro.

      1. Hi Philip,

        The COA on the laptop is Windows Vista Business. The laptop was built on 13/10/2009 about the same time Windows 7 became available. There was a free upgrade to Windows 7 offered at the time. I remember having to submit service tag details to Dell and they sent out Windows 7 disks. However I bought this particular laptop second hand December 2012, well after the Windows 7 free upgrade offer expired.

        I have also upgraded an old Dell Precision M90 using the same method. I bought that second hand in 2009 and probably installed Windows XP on it. I then probably upgraded it to Windows 7 using a DELL OEM disk and when the free Windows 10 upgrade was announced I thought I'd give it a go and sure enough it worked. I even got a video driver installed to ensure 1920×1080 resolution. I think that laptop is the oldest I've installed Windows 10 on – built in August 2007!

        I've got a busted up Latitude X1, maybe I'll give that a go.


      2. Its one of the models sold with either Windows Vista or Windows 7 (Dell were selling it when Windows 7 was launched and the ones they sold with Vista were eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 7). That free upgrade was advertised as time-limited however Dell released a BIO Update which would have changed the SLIC from 2.5 to 2.6 (meaning a Dell Windows 7 Reinstallation DVD would work on it). Likewise with the Dell Precision M90. The Latitude X1 was released in 2005… it will not have a upgraded SLIC and Windows 7 should not automatically activate on it.

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