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Windows 7 support ends today – but you can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free

Windows 7 support ends soon... but you can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Microsoft is finally set to pull the plug on Windows 7, with support for the old-school OS ending today on Tuesday, January 14. While Windows 7's end of life cycle has been public knowledge for some time now, these dates have a habit of creeping up on you unexpectedly – and their significance isn't always clear.

In this instance, Microsoft stresses that "technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC will no longer be available for the product" after January 14. This means that devices still running Windows 7 will be left vulnerable to all manner of cyber attacks, and that they'll no longer qualify for support in the event of a malfunction.

So, while Windows 7 will still work on compatible devices – and you'll even still be able to activate 'new' Windows 7 keys – upgrading is highly recommended and Microsoft will start displaying notifications like the one above to remind you your device is no longer supported. That's the bad news.

How to upgrade to Windows 10 for free

Fortunately, there are a couple of easy ways to upgrade to Windows 10, the latest OS – including one that doesn't cost a penny. If you've got a license for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you may still be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free by using the software's Media Creation Tool.

This method is reportedly still working for a number of users, though Microsoft is staying tight-lipped on the subject so your mileage may vary. Interested? Just follow these simple steps to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

  • Start by going to the Windows 10 download page
  • Click on 'Download Tool now'
  • Once downloaded, open the Media Creation Tool and agree to the license
  • Select 'Upgrade this PC now', then click 'Next'
  • At this stage, we recommend selecting 'Keep all apps and files' before continuing
  • Now, click 'Install' to initiate the installation process
  • Wait. Be patient, as installing Windows 10 can take some time
  • Once installed, you can double-check your Windows 10 activation by going to Settings > Windows Update > Activation

It's unclear when the option to upgrade to Windows 10 for free will disappear entirely, but if you can't make use of the above method for whatever reason, your other option is buy a Windows 10 license. Here are the cheapest deals today on Windows 10 keys.

To get the most out of the latest version of Windows 10, Microsoft also recommends using on a computer made within the last three years. If you're still on Windows 7 it may be that you need to be invest in a new machine – our guide to the best home computers offers a number of recommendations to get you started.

A technology journalist with nearly 10 years of experience, James is the former News and Features Editor at Trusted Reviews, and has also served as regional Editor of Lifehacker. His articles have been spotted on sites ranging from The Sun to InStyle, but his true love is shiny things and the story behind them. An avid golfer in his spare time, you'll also regularly catch him hovering over the BBQ listening to Pearl Jam.