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How To Get Windows 10 For Free

Promised as a free upgrade after various public beta tests, Windows 10 was supposed to be a cleansing reset on how Microsoft does operating system releases. Then on June 19, Microsoft's Windows Insider blog published a poorly worded post regarding the upgrade process that left many scratching their heads. That post suggested that a free download of Windows 10's final build would be available to all, but over the weekend that followed, that information was stripped from the post.

Confusing their Windows Insider users was likely not Microsoft's intent, as there are just weeks left until Windows 10's July 29 launch. The long-promised free upgrade paths do exist, but they have a few pre-existing requirements.

MORE: The Easiest Way to Install the Windows 10 Preview

As of today, here are the official ways to qualify for a free copy of Windows 10:

 1. After July 29, 2015 and before July 29, 2016, install Windows 10 on a system running Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 Update installed. You can reserve your free upgrade by clicking the Windows icon at the right side of your task bar and select "reserve your free upgrade."

2. After July 29, 2015 and before July 29, 2016, install Windows 10 on a system running Windows 8 with the Windows 8.1 Update installed. You can reserve your free upgrade by clicking the Windows icon at the right side of your task bar and select "reserve your free upgrade."

3. Register with the Windows Insider program, Microsoft's platform for beta testing and user feedback. Users who have registered with the program and have been beta testing Windows 10 may continue to receive beta-versions of Windows 10, provided that they stay members of the Windows Insider program. This is the path for either adventurous users who feel comfortable with beta versions, or users who have installed Windows 10 Technical Preview on a system that does not have an authentic, genuine license of Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 or Windows 8.1.

4. If you've been beta testing Windows 10 as a member of the Windows Insider program, but want to move to from the wild world of betas to the secure world of stable releases, there is a way for you too. You need to be running the Windows 10 beta on a computer with a genuinely obtained license of Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 or Windows 8.1. 

Windows 10 Basics

 

Having issues with Windows 10? Our sister site, Tom’s Hardware, has a team of staffers standing by in the forums to answer your questions 24/7.

 

After graduating from Bard College a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey worked in publishing and product development at Rizzoli and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom's Guide and LAPTOP having written for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his free time between going to live concerts, listening to too many podcasts, and mastering his cold brew coffee process. Content rules everything around him.