How to download Windows 10 for free | Digital Trends (2023)

When Windows 10 first arrived, nabbing a free upgrade was as simple as clicking the Get Windows 10 notification prompt. Things are a bit different now, however, especially with the new free upgrade to Windows 11 being around.

In addition to that, Microsoft no longer supports Windows 7, which means there’s no more technical support, security updates, or bug-squashing. In other words, Windows 7 is now unsafe to use, making this an excellent time to switch to Windows 10 or, switch to Windows 10.


  • With product keys and digital licenses
  • Using the Windows 10 Media Creation tool
  • Other methods for getting Windows 10
  • Upgrade from Windows 7
  • Download Windows 10 without activating
  • Buy a third-party Windows 10 key




15 minutes

What You Need

  • Valid product key or digital license

  • Windows account

Unfortunately, the original free upgrade period to Windows 10 ended years ago, and the workaround to get Windows 10 for free with Assistive Technologies ended not long after that. No need to worry, though — there are still ways to get Microsoft’s latest operating system without paying for a new license or breaking any rules.

How to download Windows 10 for free | Digital Trends (1)

With product keys and digital licenses

It would be best to have a valid product key or a digital license to get a free upgrade. What’s the difference? When you purchase an operating system from Microsoft or any retailer, it comes with a product key to unlock it. It’s printed and included in the packaging, emailed to you, or stored in the cloud, which is usually the case for system builders.

What is a digital license?

A digital license connects your installed Windows platform to a key embedded in prebuilt systems from Acer, Dell, HP, and so on. For a long time, these manufacturers printed product keys on labels stuck on PCs or printed and inserted them into product packaging. Microsoft’s product keys typically only work once, but hackers sometimes find workarounds to use the same key on multiple PCs.

That led Microsoft and manufacturers to introduce digital licenses in Windows 8 as an antipiracy measure, so end users aren’t installing the platform on additional machines. However, Microsoft also moved Windows 7 over to this method. This license becomes locked to your Microsoft account.

If you legitimately purchased and no longer use these older versions, Microsoft’s Windows 10 activation servers will accept Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 keys on your PC.

What if I can't find my key?

However, if you’re upgrading from Windows 7 and can’t find the key, you can try signing in to your Microsoft account and checking past downloads to see if your product key is there. Sites like Amazon also keep a record of purchased downloads, but these rarely include the product key itself, though it may help narrow down where it could be.

Finally, you can download Windows 10 and perform a clean install. It will then pull the valid Windows 8/8.1 license key from your prebuilt system’s motherboard and move on. In all other cases, you must supply an authentic, genuine product key during the setup process, or you can do it later by visiting Settings > Update & security > Activation.

If you don’t have a valid Windows 7 license key, you must follow our other guide about how to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

How to download Windows 10 for free | Digital Trends (2)

Using the Windows 10 Media Creation tool

Despite officially ending the free update promotion in mid-2016, Microsoft quietly keeps this option available so all Windows PC owners can run the latest version. Again, unless you have a valid digital license or product key to get a free upgrade, you will be required to pay for a new Windows 10 Home product key.

Step 1: Your first step in acquiring a free Windows 10 upgrade is to visit Microsoft’s download Windows 10 webpage.

Step 2: Select the Download tool now button.

You’ll see MediaCreationTool21H1.exe download onto your PC, which shouldn’t take longer than a minute to occur. Disconnect any unnecessary accessories to help reduce the chance of errors.


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Step 3: Launch the Media Creation Tool.

How to download Windows 10 for free | Digital Trends (3)

Step 4: Once it is downloaded, open it, and accept Microsoft’s terms.

As shown above, you have two options: Upgrade the current PC, or create installation media that will either upgrade another PC or perform a clean install on the current PC. However, in both cases, the tool will temporarily download a disk image of Windows 10, so be sure you have enough space for the file — around 4GB, at least.

Step 5: Select the Upgrade this PC now option and follow the prompts. The tool will scan your computer to see if it’s compatible and may present a list of problematic programs or hardware that could stall the upgrade. If needed, uninstall programs to address the installer’s concerns.

Step 6: With all issues resolved, the installer will try to port over all the data it can. Keep in mind, however, the vast gap between Windows 7 and Windows 10 in terms of the software you use. If you’re ditching Windows 7 after using it for many years, you probably have a lot of data stored in files and apps. We can’t guarantee that all files and apps will be compatible with Windows 10, and some may stop working.

Step 7: It’s essential to be aware of this and prepare before upgrading. Back up or convert any crucial data before you continue.

Step 8: Finish installation.

Step 9: As the installer progresses, your PC will restart a few times. As part of the process, it will pull your existing digital license from your hardware during the setup — you won’t need to activate it. If prompted for a valid product key, enter it now or do so later by visiting Settings > Update & security > Activation.

Keep in mind that this won’t work for Windows XP or Windows Vista, as these versions of Windows never qualified for the free Windows 10 upgrade.

Step 10: You’ll also receive the same flavor of Windows that first shipped with your PC — Home, Pro, Enterprise, or Education. If you’d rather use Windows 10 Pro instead of the Windows 10 Home update, you must purchase a new product key.

How to download Windows 10 for free | Digital Trends (4)

Other methods for getting Windows 10

The above method is the best way to get Windows 10 for free — at least for now. There are other ways you can get Windows 10 if you need it, including free and low-cost options that may be worth exploring.

Upgrade from Windows 7

Buy a copy of Windows 10 from Microsoft. Please read our guide on how to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Note that if you're a student, or work at a large organization, you might be eligible for free or discounted Windows. Microsoft has more on that in a support page.

Download Windows 10 without activating

Technically, you can download Windows 10 from Microsoft and not activate it, which means you don’t pay for it. It turns out this is safer than it sounds because Microsoft is pretty lax about enforcing activation. Your copy of Windows shouldn’t shut down, but some limitations kick in after your 30-day evaluation:

  • An Activate Windows watermark appears in the bottom-right corner.
  • A Windows Isn’t Activated, Activate Windows Now notification appears in settings.
  • Personalization features such as changing the wallpaper and accent colors are disabled.
  • Updates may discontinue in the future.
  • Various apps and features stop working.
  • You’ll receive daily notifications to activate.
  • No technical support.

We want to stress that using an unactivated version of Windows 10 is not permitted by Microsoft. Although it may appear like a fantastic steal (sounds about right), in reality, you’re breaking the rules and defying Microsoft’s licensing agreement. Microsoft would be completely within its rights to pursue legal damages against anyone using the Windows 10 OS unactivated, though they haven’t done so yet as far as we know. Better safe than sorry. In the end, if Microsoft wanted to stop people from using these versions, they could do it.

Buy a third-party Windows 10 key

You can find third-party vendors who sell Windows 10 manufacturer keys at a bargain. Going through these companies enables you to purchase the keys at half (or even lower) of the full Microsoft price. While it may sound like a scam, you can find reliable vendors who just happen to have a good price, but you need to stay on your toes. What customers need to do is hunt for trustworthy key vendors who offer incredible bargains. Easier said than done, though.

PCDestination has them for $45. But overall, we still suggest shopping around.

As you can guess, it is very much possible to still upgrade and get Windows 10 for free in 2022. You just need to follow our methods covered above -- from using your existing Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 product key or even getting a license through work or school at no cost. Our tips and tricks are in line with Microsoft's terms, too.

This means you don't have to worry about if it is legal to get Windows 10 for free. And, if you're worried about if you can upgrade to Windows 11 if you already got WIndows 10 for free, well, it's just as easy and painless. Your upgrade to Windows 10 will give you a digital entitlement to Windows, which means if your hardware fits Microsoft's requirements to run Windows 11, you can download Windows 11 at any time for no extra cost.

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How to download Windows 10 for free | Digital Trends? ›

To use the media creation tool, visit the Microsoft Software Download Windows 10 page from a Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 device. You can use this page to download a disc image (ISO file) that can be used to install or reinstall Windows 10.

How to download Windows 10 Edition for free? ›

To use the media creation tool, visit the Microsoft Software Download Windows 10 page from a Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 device. You can use this page to download a disc image (ISO file) that can be used to install or reinstall Windows 10.

How to install Windows 10 digital download? ›

Windows 10
  1. Go to Order history, find Windows 10, and then select Product key/Install.
  2. Select Copy to copy the key, and then select Install.
  3. Select Download tool now, and follow the instructions.
  4. A wizard will help you through the steps to install. You can install Windows 10 on a PC or a Mac.

Can you get Windows 10 digitally? ›

If you don't have a digital license or a product key, you can purchase a Windows 10 digital license after installation finishes. Here's how: Select the Start button. Select Settings > Update & Security > Activation .

Can I download Windows 10 Media Creation Tool? ›

You can get Windows 10 media creation tool by visiting the Microsoft Media Creation Tool website. Then click the Download tool now button from the webpage. Then install and run the application on your PC.

Can I get Windows 10 for free now? ›

Key Takeaways

Microsoft allows anyone to download Windows 10 for free and install it without a product key. It'll keep working for the foreseeable future, with only a few small cosmetic restrictions. And you can even pay to upgrade to a licensed copy of Windows 10 after you install it.

Is Windows 10 no longer free? ›

The most recent update was on August 7, 2023. Microsoft's free upgrade offer for Windows 10 ended nearly seven years ago, but no one told the people who run the Windows activation servers.

How to install Windows 10 from scratch? ›

Clean install Windows 10 from Reset this PC (local)
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Recovery.
  4. Under the “Reset this PC” section, click the Get started button.
  5. Click the “Remove everything” option to perform a fresh install of Windows 10.
  6. Click the “Local reinstall” option.
May 4, 2023

Where do I get a Windows 10 digital license? ›

Select the Start button, then select Settings > Update & Security > Activation . Then select Go to Store to go to the Microsoft Store app where you can purchase a Windows 10 digital license.

How do I manually download and install Windows 10? ›

How to install Windows 10: Full installation
  1. Check your device meets the Windows 10 system requirements. ...
  2. Create USB installation media. ...
  3. Run the installer tool. ...
  4. Use your installation media. ...
  5. Change your computer's boot order. ...
  6. Restart your device. ...
  7. Complete the installation.
Jun 24, 2021

How much is a Windows 10 digital license? ›

A Windows 10 Home download license costs $139, while Windows 10 Pro costs $199.99. However, visiting either purchase page reveals a note stating, "January 31, 2023 will be the last day this Windows 10 download is offered for sale.

How much is Windows 10 digital? ›

Daftar Harga License Windows 10 Pro Terbaru Agustus 2023
Harga Windows 11 Pro or Windows 10 Pro Original LicenseRp425.000
Harga windows 10 pro license keyRp200.000
Harga Microsoft WINDOWS 11 PRO - WINDOWS 10 PRO License ORIGINALRp425.000
Harga Windows 10 Pro Digital License ESD 💖💖Rp63.000
7 more rows

Is Digital license Windows 10 legit? ›

Windows 10 will use the “digital license” (digital entitlement) activation method if one of the following is true: You're upgrading a genuine copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 for free. You've purchased a copy of Windows 10 in the Windows Store and successfully activated Windows 10.

How to download Windows 10 for free without media creation tool? ›

How to Download an Official Windows 10 ISO without the Media Creation Tool
  1. Navigate to the Windows 10 download site and open the context menu. ...
  2. Open developer tools. ...
  3. Open the Network conditions panel. ...
  4. Untick 'Select automatically' ...
  5. Change your Chrome user agent. ...
  6. Refresh the page. ...
  7. Select your Windows 10 edition. ...
  8. Click “Confirm”
Mar 19, 2021

How to download Windows 10 on USB? ›

Wrapping it all up, making a bootable Windows USB drive is simple:
  1. Format a 16 GB (or higher) USB flash device.
  2. Download the Windows 10 media creation tool from Microsoft.
  3. Run the media creation wizard to download the Windows 10 installation files.
  4. Create the installation media.
  5. Eject the USB flash device.
Dec 16, 2022

How to install Windows 10 from USB from BIOS? ›

Turn on the device and press the key that opens the boot-device selection menu for the computer, such as the Esc/F10/F12 keys. Select the option that boots the device from the flash drive. Windows Setup starts. Follow the instructions to install Windows.

Is Minecraft Windows 10 Edition free? ›

Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition is real, and it is completely free if you already own the game on PC. You just need to go through a few steps.

How to upgrade from 8.1 to 10 for free? ›

To easily upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, use these steps:
  1. Open Microsoft website.
  2. Under the “Create Windows 10 installation media” section, click the Download Now button.
  3. Double-click the MediaCreationTool22H2.exe to launch the Windows 10 setup wizard.
  4. Click Accept to the licensing agreement.
Jun 15, 2023

How to download Windows 10 by USB? ›

  1. Step 1 - Format the drive and set the primary partition as active. Connect the USB flash drive to your technician PC. ...
  2. Step 2 - Copy Windows Setup to the USB flash drive. Use File Explorer to copy and paste the entire contents of the Windows product DVD or ISO to the USB flash drive. ...
  3. Step 3 - Install Windows to the new PC.

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