How to upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7

Microsoft is making Windows 10 a free upgrade for Windows 7 and later versions of the operating system, and in this how-to we’ll go through the instructions to prevent issues during the process.

Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10

Windows 10 is finally rolling out to users and it’s already a hit, according to recent reports only after ten days the operating system is running on over 25 million computers. And there is a good reason, Windows 10 is aiming to be one of the best versions yet. Even better, Microsoft is offering its new operating system as a free upgrade for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 computers. As such, it’s once again time to upgrade.

In this new guide we’ll go through the steps you need to follow to minimize the chances of issues during the upgrade process for a successful installation for those computers upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

The new version of Microsoft’s operating system is a great release, because besides of the new features, such as Cortana, the new Start menu, Action Center, Windows Hello, the new Microsoft Edge browser that replaces Internet Explorer, and many more features, the company is bringing back many of the familiarity from previous versions that will help users coming from Windows 8, Windows 7, and even Windows XP to start immediately using Windows 10 with almost no learning curve.

Requirements to upgrade

As opposed to previous versions of the operating system, Microsoft is delivering Windows 10 through Windows Update, which makes the upgrade as easy as installing a regular update. However, before you can upgrade there are a few prerequisites you need to meet.

Here’re the Windows 10 minimum hardware requirements:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics Card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 1024×600

In addition, and more importantly, you need be running the latest version of the operating system, in the case Windows 7 Services Pack 1. If you don’t have this update already installed, you can download it here.

Quick Tip: You can check which version of Windows you’re running by opening the Run command and typing Winver.

Once the Service Pack is installed and you followed up by updating the operating system with all the security updates and patches. You’ll notice in the notification center a new Windows icon, which is the “Get Windows 10” app. Click it start the app, and click Reserve your free upgrade button.

Next you need to enter your email address, which Microsoft will use to contact you when Windows 10 is ready for you, then click Send confirmation, and you’ll be all set.

If you don’t see the “Get Windows 10” app, make sure that you install the updates KB3035583 and KB2952664.

Another aspect where Windows 10 is different is how the company is rolling out the upgrade. Windows 10 is available public but not everyone gets it at once, instead Microsoft is gradually rolling it out, which means that it will take some time until everyone gets the upgrade.

Depending when you reserve your copy and your computer hardware, Windows 10 will be available to you within hours, days, or weeks. If your PC isn’t compatible, due to a hardware or software issues with the operating system, it could even take longer.

As such, it’s recommended you take the time to check your hardware and software to see if it’s compatible with Windows 10.

Fortunately, Microsoft is including a feature in the “Get Windows 10” app to check your computer for compatibility issues. Open the “Get Windows 10” app, click the hamburger button in the top-left corner, and from the menu click “Check your PC” to verify that your system is compatible.

Windows 10 compatibility check

Creating a full backup

Although, Microsoft has been improving the upgrade process with Windows 10, there are always chance that the upgrade will fail, and to avoid any problems, you should make sure to have a full backup of your system that you can use to roll back if anything happens. Luckily, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 come with System Image Backup tool to create a backup of your entire computer.

Upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7

After everything is verify and ready to go, you’ll receive a pop-up notification from the “Get Windows 10” app.

Popup Windows 10 upgrade notification
The pop-up Windows 10 upgrade notification is the same in Windows 8 and Windows 7.

Before going through the installation process, make sure to uninstall any security software, such as antivirus and firewall, any other software that isn’t compatible with Windows 10 or you don’t use. This will help to avoid any issues during the upgrade process.

For example, if you’re only running Windows Defender, go to Control Panel, open the antivirus, navigate to Settings, uncheck the “Turn on real-time protection” option, and click the Save changes button.

When you see the Windows 10 upgrade notification, click the Windows logo icon in the notification center, click OK, let’s continue.

You free upgrade to Windows 10 is here!

The Window Setup will run some tests, you’ll need to Accept the license terms, and you’ll be given the option to “Schedule it for later” or “Start the upgrade now”.

Accepting the Windows 10 license agreement

Click the “Start the upgrade now” will begin the upgrade immediately, as such make sure you close all your work and apps before pushing the upgrade button.

Start the upgrade now

The upgrade process should take anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending on the internet connection, hardware, and other variables.

During the upgrade process you won’t be prompted to enter a product key, but you’ll be presented with the out-of-experience that you have to go through to configure the operating system to your needs.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to wait, you can upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 Service Pack 1 manually by downloading the installation files from the Microsoft support site.

You only need to click the Download Tool Now depending your system architecture, once the Windows 10 Setup appears, you’ll have the choice to “Upgrade the PC now” or “Create installation media for another PC”. For purpose of upgrade your computer to Windows 10, you will want to choose the “Upgrade the PC” option, then simply choose whether you want to keep your files and apps, and push the button to upgrade.

Windows 10 upgrade using ISO file

After the installation completes, you’ll once again see your familiar desktop and every new feature included with Windows 10.

Now, remember that in Windows 7, you didn’t need to a Microsoft Account, but starting Windows 8 and now in Windows 10, you’ll need use a Microsoft Account to take advantage accessing the Windows Store to download apps, use OneDrive, and sync your settings between computers.

Once you’re logged into Windows 10, make sure to open the Settings app, navigate to Accounts, and in Your Account make sure to click Sign in with a Microsoft account instead. On the “Make it yours” dialog box, sign in with your account information, and click Sign in.

Windows 10 local account

While in the Setting app, go to Windows Update to check for new updates, as Microsoft has already released the day one update and a week after launch another huge update has rolled out to resolve various issues in the operating system.

Windows 10 Check for udpates

Additionally, make sure to go to Device Manager to check that every piece of hardware is install correctly on your system, reinstall your antivirus, and any other software you uninstall before the upgrade.

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