And, though Microsoft’s initial free upgrade offer officially expired years ago, the question remains. Is Windows 10 free to download? And, the answer is yes. While you would generally shell out $120 to upgrade to Windows 10, the loophole seems to have been intentionally left open to get as many people to switch from Windows 7 to Windows 10 as possible, even if Microsoft has to lose out on the money they would make from those upgrades.
- Windows 7 End of Life: everything you need to know
- Intel releases free file transfer app to help you ditch Windows 7
- What businesses should know about Windows 7 End of Life
Someone claiming to work for Microsoft revealed on Reddit that the "whole 'free' upgrade for a year was fully marketing fluff,” and that even after the initial cut-off date for the upgrade, it’s easy to upgrade from Windows 7 and get that free Windows 10 download.
According to the poster, CokeRobot, Microsoft didn’t care, as Terry Meyerson, who was previously Executive Vice President at Microsoft, and head of the Windows and Devices Group, “at the time cared more about his upgrade stats than license revenue as Windows isn't Microsoft's cash cow anymore.”
Since Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 last year, it seems the company would rather take the financial hit and make it easy for people to upgrade to Windows 10, rather than them sticking with Windows 7, which could potentially become a security risk as no new patches or updates would be released for the operating system, or worse, switch from Windows to a free alternative like Linux.
However, it seems like while Microsoft knows about the loophole (and tacitly approves of it), it doesn’t want to publicize it, as that could annoy people who have paid for the upgrade.
Of course, bear in mind that this is coming from an unverified user on Reddit. However, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched, as Microsoft could easily stop the free upgrades if it wanted to – and so far, it hasn’t.
How to upgrade to Windows 10 for free
As CokeRobot explains, you need to choose the upgrade where you keep your files and information. If you choose to do a fresh install, you lose the ability to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, and will need to buy a Windows 10 licence.
If this happens, check out our pick of the cheapest Windows 10 prices.
However, we have also heard from readers who say that even doing a fresh install will work with the free Windows 10 upgrade, as long as you have your Windows 7 key to hand.
To upgrade for free, use the Windows Media Creation Tool and select to upgrade from there. Enter in your Windows 7 (or Windows 8) licence key, and you should soon have a Windows 10 running – for free.
For more in-depth advice, visit our guide on how to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
- Why not buy a new Windows 10 machine instead? Here’s the best laptops of 2020
Sign up for Black Friday email alerts!
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.