How to reserve Windows 10 for free while still clinging to Windows 7/8.x (but hurry!)

Kip Kniskern

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OK, so you’ve battled the incessant upgrade prompts, turned off automatic updates, and searched the internet for ways to fight off Microsoft’s relentless attempts to get you to upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.x to Windows 10, and now you’re getting a countdown clock showing just how close you’re getting to the end of that free (FREE!) offer.

There’s less than 10 days left on that free upgrade offer, and you’re starting to sweat a little. What if some cool new feature, only available on Windows 10, comes out (not that Xbox games on Windows 10, inking support, apps, and Cortana aren’t cool new features)? Isn’t there a way to prolong the free offer, while still clinging to your beloved Windows 7/8.x?

Well, there is, but you have to jump through a few hoops to do it. Basically, what you’re going to need to do is (gulp) upgrade to Windows 10, and then revert back.

What this process does is create a hash that associates your machine with a Windows 10 license, one that will perpetuate even after you revert back as it’s stored in the cloud with your Microsoft account (for the particular device you’re “upgrading”), and remains after the one year free offer ends in just a few short days. You can learn more about Windows 10 activation on this Microsoft Support page.

To do that, you’ll simply have to (be still my heart!) go against everything you’ve ever held dear in your life and upgrade to Windows 10. In order to get the free offer, you’ll have to accomplish this before July 29th, of course. You’ll need to prove that you have a fully-licensed copy of Windows 7 or 8.x, either by providing an activation key or by Digital Entitlement, and of course your machine will have to be compatible with Windows 10.

You’ll need to have your Microsoft account associated with your Windows 10 activation: if you log in using your Microsoft account you’re all set, but if you only used a local account, you’ll need to add a Microsoft account to Windows 10. Go to Settings > Update & security > Activation, click Add an account and complete the process.

After that, you’ll have 30 days to revert back to Windows 7, and so maybe you should take a few days and poke around. Windows 10 with the Anniversary update is actually pretty cool, with lots of good reasons to upgrade.

If your mind is made up, however, and you just like old outdated insecure things, then within the 30-day period you can revert back to Windows 7. Here’s what you’ll need to do, according to Microsoft Support:

Can I go back to my old operating system?

Yes, there are a few different ways for you to go back from Windows 10 to a previous version of Windows:
•If it’s been less than a month since you’ve upgraded to Windows 10, you’ll be able to go back to your previous version of Windows from Settings > Update & security > Recovery.
•If your PC manufacturer provided the option, you might be able to restore your device to factory settings.
•If options to go back and restore factory settings aren’t available, you can use installation media and a product key to install a previous version of Windows.

From there, once you come to your senses and decide to take the plunge (maybe some RS2 updates will tickle your fancy, or maybe the drugs will just wear off), you will be able to once again update, for free, to Windows 10, at any time in the future until Microsoft ends Windows 10’s life or your computer goes kaput. So even if you are a dead-set against ever upgrading to Windows 10, or maybe you’re just a great procrastinator, isn’t it worth it to have a little insurance?

Are you still on Windows 7 or Windows 8.x? Will you ever upgrade? Let us know in the comments.