With the release of Windows 10 came the option of a Windows 10 Free Upgrade Product Key for anyone running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. However, when downloading the free upgrade you are given the choice of upgrading your current system (in-place upgrade), or create installation media for a fresh install.
We always prefer to do a fresh install instead of an in-place upgrade as that reduces the chances of having incompatible software, drivers or registry settings that can cause strange problems with the installation or even further down the line.
However, the download of Windows 10 free upgrade does not come with a product key. So how, then, do you complete the following box?
Well, the answer is you don’t. Simply press ‘Skip’ or ‘Do this later’ when you see this box and Windows 10 will install without further complaint.
So how do you activate Windows 10 Free Upgrade Product Key?
Windows 10 free upgrade does NOT need a product key, but it MUST be activated. So, instead of typing a long product key, once Windows is installed it will contact the Microsoft Activation services and check for a matching hardware ID and confirm if the product key associated with that ID has been upgraded to a Windows 10 Free Upgrade Product Key.
So this means that you MUST upgrade your copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 by performing an IN-PLACE upgrade first (boo!). During the upgrade installation Windows will contact the activation servers and ‘upgrade’ your old product key to a Windows 10 Free Upgrade Product Key. Thereafter, whenever you install Windows 10 from fresh you will no longer need to Activate your copy of windows as it will be done automatically.
What if I don’t like Windows 10?
Before performing the in-place upgrade we backed up our computers by making an image of the hard disk. Once that was complete we knew we had a backup copy of Windows 7 / 8.1 that we could return to if we didn’t like Windows 10.
Next we performed an in-place upgrade on the hard disk knowing that we had a good backup that we could revert to if needed.
We suggest you do the same before you upgrade which will also protect you from a failed in-place upgrade where your software, drivers or registry settings may leave you with a computer that no longer boots.