If you missed the Windows 10 free upgrade period that ended July 29, don’t worry. You can still get Windows 10 on your PC. In fact, Microsoft even allows you to do a clean install without requiring to enter a product key. There are certain steps to be followed before you do this, however.
Step 1: Backing Up your Data
First of all, you will need to back up everything on your system because a clean install will wipe everything out. This is possibly the biggest single task in this process. You can either backup your data to an external drive or use a cloud service, depending on how much data you actually have stored on your system. Most cloud services are free only up to a limit, so most people prefer moving the data to an external hard drive.
Step 2: Preparing for the Download
You will also need a flash drive with about 4GB of space, depending on whether or not you want to create media for installation on other machines. Microsoft recommends a blank flash drive or a blank DVD for this because any data you have on them will be deleted during the download process.
One more very important thing, though. You’ll need the product key for the Office suite that you currently use. You won’t need one for Windows 10, and I’ve explained that below, but you definitely need to be able to reinstall Office on your system.
Step 3: Downloading and Installing Windows 10 Free
Once you’ve got everything ready, go to Microsoft’s Software Downloads Page and download the appropriate version of the ISO file (disc image) based on whether you already have Windows Home or Pro. You also need to select the same language option as your current Windows version.
Once you download the file onto your system, external drive or USB, click on the file to run it. You may need to right-click and run it as “Administrator” depending on how your account was set up on the machine. Don’t worry, if you do it wrong the system will tell you to run it as Admin.
During the installation process, you’ll be asked to enter a product key to activate Windows 10. If you don’t have one, you can select the option ‘I don’t have a product key” and it’ll just continue to install, albeit with a few cosmetic restrictions.
What are these restrictions, and will you be able to use Windows 10 normally?
Yes, you can use a clean install of Windows 10 the way you’d use a licensed version, but the system will keep showing you notifications to activate the product. No annoying pop-ups or anything, but the settings and other system windows will have a reminder.
Once you have selected the “I don’t have a product key” option, just allow the installation to finish and you’re all done. The system should restart on its own, and you are now officially on Windows 10. Simple!