Windows 10 Upgrade Now Works with Windows 7, 8 Keys

John Lister's picture

Microsoft has followed through on a promise to make Windows 10 upgrades easier. Users of Windows 7 and 8.1 will no longer need to install the new system twice in order to perform a 'clean install'.

The fact that Windows 7 and 8.1 users could upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge for the first year of the Windows 10's release was perhaps the most noteworthy part of the changes to come. It's also a clear sign that Microsoft believes that the nature of software buying will not be the same as it was once was.

Activated Upgrade a Multi-Step Process

The big problem was that Microsoft made the process of upgrading to Windows 10 overly complicated. Originally, Windows 7 and 8.1 users had to upgrade from within the desktop environment in order to qualify for the free upgrade. Anyone that attempted to clean install from the get-go would not be allowed to activate their free upgrade to Windows 10.

But now, all that has changed.

Windows 7, 8 Users can use Product Key to Upgrade

The first major public update to Windows 10 (known as the Fall Update) has fixed that problem. Users upgrading to Windows 10 from now on will be able to simply provide the product key from Windows 7 or 8.1 and go straight to installing an activated copy of Windows 10. That means it's possible to do a clean install of Windows 10 (which involves formatting the hard drive) from the get-go. (Source:

If you've already upgraded to Windows 10 and it has not yet activated, that may also now be a lot simpler. Users can simply type in "Activation" from the Start menu, launch the Activation app, then enter in their Windows 7 or 8.1 product key for immediate activation - though it may not work for everyone. In that case you may need to call Microsoft and get a proper activation code.

In either case, look out for the phrase "digital entitlement." This indicates that Microsoft has accepted your computer is a legitimate Windows machine and thus eligible for both upgrade and activation. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

If you've upgraded to Windows 10, has the system automatically and successfully activated? Did you find the process simple and did you understand what was happening? Should Microsoft have provided this solution right from the launch of Windows 10?

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Dennis Faas's picture

Wow, did Microsoft ever make the Windows 10 upgrade complicated! Most of the weird error messages that happened when users attempted to upgrade to Windows 10 from their existing desktop was the result of an already-corrupt Windows environment.

Oftentimes the only way to fix the problem meant that users had to backup their existing systems, format, reinstall Windows 7 or 8, download all updates, then try the Windows 10 upgrade process again.

Microsoft should have let users do the clean install upgrade from the get-go, but I'm quite sure they had their reasons for making it overly complicated. I'm guessing it either had to do with piracy, or perhaps they wanted real-time statistics as to who was upgrading from what, and the only way to know that would be to have users upgrade from the desktop. At any rate, good riddance!

bl1124_5178's picture

I had no problem upgrading to windows 10 or activation. How ever I had to do a reset two different times. Windows now running fine. I am happy with it.

ehowland's picture

This is indeed good news, and makes things simpler (for me) but in the MANY situations where I do NOT want the users (I support) to 'upgrade' their older systems (I.E. I have had many compatibility issues on AMD chipset systems and systems with a Radeon based video card). So on these PCs I have specifically 'uninstalled' KB3035583 (from last May) and deleted the 4-6GB of wasted files Windows pushed. MS again pushed ANOTHER KB3035583 in October and AGAIN PCs I have already purged got it all back again and I had to do it again...It's insanely frustrating to me that Windows "forces" downloads to every PC I understand the rational, but some folks have bandwidth considerations, speed considerations and SPACE considerations...

On systems I take care of I have auto-backups (Acronis) occur every night (incremental) and weekly we do a 'full' backup. Then after a month it overwrites the oldest backup (so self pruning). This means in a given month we can go 'back in time' and restore or BROWSE files if needed. Great right? This backup system works very well, but the Win10 install files (Hidden on "C" drive called "BT~..." is a WASTE of space where I do not want the PC upgraded (now or possibly ever). This 4-6GB is not only wasting space, it is backed up 30 times and ends up putting huge un-needed ware and tare on the drive (Some SSD and some HDD) as well as the backup drive (which is always HDD). so 6GB becomes about 30+GB when part of backups (which it is when it keeps getting pushed). Acronis is great, Win10 still has growing pains and many makers have not dealt with compatibility issues (and may never)...

yellowbee_5792's picture

I upgraded to Win10 over my Win7Pro a few months ago and it has been performing just fine.
BUT Microsoft attempted an update last Sunday as I watched.
It started .. but at some point an error displayed on screen and the system froze – and then the fun began.
I tried a reboot but had to rest my bios (the default wanted to reboot from an external source).
The reboot was finally successful but NO APPS could be activated without a dire warning that the App-supplier's certificate was outdated. WHAT? Every App?
Finally (on the following day) I happened to glance at my System Calendar and realized the computer had reset to the year 3415! Little wonder every App's certificate had long-since expired. With the system-calendar corrected everything is working fine. But I wonder where I go from here. Seems Microsoft hasn't cleared all the warts from their updates yet and I quiver at the thought of allowing a future attempt to proceed.

HLSinker's picture

Thanks for your articles, I have 3 computers- (2)vista, (1)Win7)am waiting til Feb or March to upgrade to Win 10. Have a couple of years back purchased (1)Win 7 and (1)Win 8 for the Vistas, but due to relocating and the Vista working well did not upgade (Can you believe that of Vistas). With this new information am wondering if I will need to first install the Windows 7&8 on to the Vista machines. Your thoughts would be appricated.