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When Windows 10 first arrived, nabbing a free upgrade was as simple as clicking the “Get Windows 10” notification prompt. Things are a bit different now, however. Microsoft no longer supports Windows 7, which means there’s no more technical support, security updates, or bug-squashing. In other words, Windows 7 is now unsafe to use, making this an excellent time to switch to Windows 10.

Unfortunately, the original free upgrade period for the two older versions ended years ago, and the workaround to get Windows 10 for free with Assistive Technologies ended not long after that. No need to worry, though — there are still ways to get Microsoft’s latest operating system without paying for a new license or breaking any rules.

Product keys and digital licenses

Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

It would be best to have a valid product key or a digital license to get a free upgrade. What’s the difference? When you purchase an operating system from Microsoft or any retailer, it comes with a product key to unlock it. It’s printed and included in the packaging, emailed to you, or stored in the cloud, which is usually the case for system builders.

A digital license connects your installed Windows platform to a key embedded in pre-built systems from Acer, Dell, HP, and so on. For a long time, these manufacturers printed product keys on labels stuck on PCs or printed and inserted them into product packaging. Microsoft’s product keys typically only work once, but hackers sometimes find workarounds to use the same key on multiple PCs.

That led Microsoft and manufacturers to introduce digital licenses in Windows 8 as an anti-piracy measure, so end users aren’t installing the platform on additional machines. However, Microsoft also moved Windows 7 over to this method. This license becomes locked to your Microsoft account.

If you legitimately purchased and no longer use these older versions, Microsoft’s Windows 10 activation servers will accept Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 keys on your PC.

However, if you’re upgrading from Windows 7 and can’t find the key, you can try signing in to your Microsoft account and checking past downloads to see if your product key is there. Sites like Amazon also keep a record of purchased downloads, but these rarely include the product key itself, though it may help narrow down where it could be.

Finally, you can download Windows 10 and perform a clean install. It will then pull the valid Windows 8/8.1 license key from your prebuilt system’s motherboard and move on. In all other cases, you must supply an authentic, genuine product key during the setup process, or you can do it later by visiting Settings > Update & Security > Activation.

If you don’t have a valid Windows 7 license key, you must follow our other guide about how to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

Step 1: Download the Windows 10 Media Creation tool

Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

Despite officially ending the free update promotion in mid-2016, Microsoft quietly keeps this option available so all Windows PC owners can run the latest version. Again, unless you have a valid digital license or product key to get a free upgrade, you will be required to pay for a new Windows 10 Home product key.

Your first step in acquiring a free Windows 10 upgrade is to visit Microsoft’s download Windows 10 webpage. Then, select the Download Tool Now button.

You’ll see MediaCreationTool21H1.exe download onto your PC, which shouldn’t take longer than a minute. Disconnect any unnecessary accessories to help reduce the chance of errors.

Step 2: Launch the Media Creation Tool

With the Media Creation Tool downloaded, open it, and accept Microsoft’s terms.

As shown above, you have two options: Upgrade the current PC, or create media that will either upgrade another PC or perform a clean install on the current PC. However, in both cases, the tool will temporarily download a disk image of Windows 10, so be sure you have enough space for the file — around 4GB, at least.

Next, select the Upgrade This PC Now option and follow the prompts. The tool will scan your computer to see if it’s compatible and may present a list of problematic programs or hardware that could stall the upgrade. If needed, uninstall programs to address the installer’s concerns.

With all issues resolved, the installer will try to port over all the data it can. Keep in mind, however, the vast gap between Windows 7 and Windows 10 in terms of the software you use. If you’re ditching Windows 7 after using it for many years, you probably have a lot of data stored in files and apps. We can’t guarantee that all files and apps will be compatible with Windows 10, and some may stop working.

It’s essential to be aware of this and prepare before upgrading. Back up or convert any crucial data before you continue.

Step 3: Finish installation

windows 10 october update

As the installer progresses, your PC will restart a few times. As part of the process, it will pull your existing digital license from your hardware during the setup — you won’t need to activate. If prompted for a valid product key, enter it now or do so later by visiting Settings > Update & Security > Activation.

Keep in mind that this won’t work for Windows XP or Windows Vista, as these versions of Windows never qualified for the free Windows 10 upgrade.

You’ll also receive the same flavor of Windows that first shipped with your PC — Home, Pro, Enterprise, or Education. If you’d rather use Windows 10 Pro instead of the Windows 10 Home update, you must purchase a new product key.

Other methods for getting Windows 10

Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

The above method is the best way to get Windows 10 for free — at least for now. There are other ways you can get Windows 10 if you need it, including free and low-cost options that may be worth exploring.

Upgrade from Windows 7

Buy a copy of Windows 10 from Microsoft. Please read our guide on how to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

Download Windows 10 without activating

Technically, you can download Windows 10 from Microsoft and not activate it, which means you don’t pay for it. It turns out this is safer than it sounds because Microsoft is pretty lax about enforcing activation. Your copy of Windows shouldn’t shut down, but some limitations kick in after your 30-day evaluation:

  • An Activate Windows watermark appears in the bottom-right corner.
  • A “Windows Isn’t Activated, Activate Windows Now” notification appears in settings.
  • Personalization features such as changing the wallpaper and accent colors are disabled.
  • Updates may discontinue in the future.
  • Various apps and features stop working.
  • You’ll receive daily notifications to activate.
  • No technical support.

We want to stress that using an unactivated version of Windows 10 is not permitted by Microsoft. Although it may appear like a fantastic steal (sounds about right), in reality, you’re breaking the rules and defying Microsoft’s licensing agreement. Microsoft would be completely within its rights to pursue legal damages against anyone using the Windows 10 OS unactivated, though they haven’t done so yet as far as we know. Better safe than sorry. In the end, if Microsoft wanted to stop people from using these versions, they could do it.

Buy a third-party Windows 10 key

You can find third-party vendors who sell Windows 10 manufacturer keys at a bargain. Going through these companies enables you to purchase the keys at half (or even lower) of the full Microsoft price. While it sounds like a complete scam, you can find reliable vendors who just happen to have a good price, but you need to stay on your toes. What customers need to do is hunt for trustworthy key vendors who offer incredible bargains. Easier said than done, though. 

PCDestination has them for $45. But overall, we still suggest shopping around.

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Naabiae Nenu-B is a Medical Health Student and an SEO Specialist dedicated to flushing the web off fake news and scam scandals. He aims at being "Africa's Best Leak and Review Blogger" and that's the unwavering stand of Xycinews Media.

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Technology

Amazon’s best MacBook Pro deals of 2021 are available right now

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Are you looking for the fastest and most responsive experience possible on a laptop computer? You don’t need to spend a small fortune on a custom gaming machine with a gazillion gigabits of RAM. All you need is a new Apple notebook with Apple’s incredible M1 chip. And prices actually start much lower than you might think! That’s especially true for Apple’s Pro-grade M1 laptop. As a matter of fact, Amazon’s best MacBook Pro deals of 2021 are happening right now!

2020 Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip (256GB) List Price:$1,299.00 Price:$1,099.99 You Save:$199.01 (15%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

The latest-generation M1 MacBook Air is Apple’s most affordable laptop you can get with the new M1 chipset. As if you don’t already know, Apple’s M1 is the SoC that’s making all kinds of waves right now. This entry-level Apple laptop is still powerful enough to computer crush rival Windows laptops that cost twice as much. And that’s especially true while Amazon is discounting the MacBook Air by up to $150.

Best MacBook Pro deals

Apple’s new Air laptop is lightning-fast indeed, but there’s another M1-powered Apple notebook that’s even more powerful. If you want the best of the best, you’re likely eying a brand new Apple M1 MacBook Pro instead of the Air. If that’s the case, we have some fantastic news: Now is the time to pull the trigger because Amazon is offering all-time low prices on both the 256GB model and the 512GB version, with $200 discounts on either size!

Searching for the fastest and most powerful Apple computers ever made? You now have four models to choose from. The new Mac mini is one, plus the new MacBook Air, and 13-inch MacBook Pro. And now, the new M1 iMac has finally been released (plus, it’s $50 off at Amazon!). These computers are all insanely powerful, and they’re all very new to Apple’s lineup. Despite how new they are though, Amazon already has some remarkably deep discounts.

Apple’s new Mac mini is the only M1-powered desktop that isn’t an all-in-one model. It’s so affordable, especially considering the fact that it crushes Windows PCs that cost twice as much. The same can be said of the MacBook Air, which is also on sale with discounts up to $150. But it should go without saying that the most exciting new M1-powered computer is the M1 MacBook Pro. And Amazon just slashed this incredible laptop to its lowest price ever.

The M1 MacBook Pro was between $50 and $60 off ahead of the holidays last year. Procrastination doesn’t often off, but this time around you’ll be very glad that you missed those deals. Head over to Amazon today and you’ll find that the 13-inch MacBook Pro with 256GB of SSD storage is $200 off. And if you want to bump your storage space up to 512GB you’ll still save a whopping $200!

Both of those deals are all-time low prices for Apple’s new M1 MacBook Pro models. But the bad news is we have no idea how much longer Amazon’s awesome sale will last. In other words, hurry up or you could miss out!


M1 MacBook Pro

  • Apple’s M1 chip is a revolution in the personal computing space, offering unrivaled CPU and GPU performance
  • Instant wake means no more waiting for your laptop to load
  • The 8-core CPU delivers up to 2.8x faster performance, while the 8-core GPU brings up to 5x faster graphics
  • The M1 is also Apple’s most efficient chipset ever, enabling up to 20 hours of battery life on a single charge
  • The dedicated 16-core Neural Engine enables advanced machine learning capabilities
  • There has never been anything like this before on comparable notebook computers

2020 Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip (256GB) List Price:$1,299.00 Price:$1,099.99 You Save:$199.01 (15%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission
2020 Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip (512GB) List Price:$1,499.00 Price:$1,299.99 You Save:$199.01 (13%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission


M1 MacBook Air

  • Powered by Apple’s M1 chip, the first M series chip designed entirely by Apple to optimize performance and efficiency
  • Apple’s 8-core CPU delivers up to 2.8x faster performance and the 8-core GPU powers up to 5x faster graphics
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life on a single charge — leave your bulky power supply at home
  • Instant wake enabled by the M1 means your MacBook is ready to go as soon as you open it

2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop with Apple M1 Chip (256GB) List Price:$999.00 Price:$899.00 You Save:$100.00 (10%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission
2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop with Apple M1 Chip (512GB) List Price:$1,249.00 Price:$1,099.99 You Save:$149.01 (12%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission


Go here to see this month’s best deals on Amazon!

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HBO Max free episodes are available right now to anyone

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Over the last few years, the number of streaming services on the market has increased at an alarming pace. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, Paramount+, Disney+, HBO Max, and more are all competing for your time and money. But there are only so many hours in a day and dollars in our bank accounts. It’s a fierce competition, which is why every service is constantly finding new ways to reel in subscribers. To that point, HBO announced this week that episodes from some of the biggest shows on HBO Max will be free to watch for non-subscribers.

Today’s Top Deal Fire TV Stick 4K just got a rare 20% discount — don’t miss out! List Price:$49.99 Price:$39.99 You Save:$10.00 (20%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission Available from Amazon BGR may receive a commission

If you’re curious about the HBO Max library, this is a great way to get a sneak peek before spending any money. HBO says the collection will initially include 13 episodes of HBO and Max Originals. New titles will rotate in and out of the collection periodically. Here are all of the pilot episodes that HBO says you can watch for free without a subscription:

With that said, when I visit the HBO Max free episodes hub, I see far more than what is listed above. Beyond those shows, I also see The Nevers, Mare of Easttown, The Undoing, Insecure, I May Destroy You, and Gossip Girl, to name a few. Perhaps those were already part of a separate promotion.

How to watch HBO Max free episodes

There are a number of ways to watch the free episodes on HBO Max. In addition to clicking on the link above in your browser, you can also access the free episodes on all of HBO Max’s device partners. This includes Fire TV, Android TV, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, LG, PlayStation, Roku, Samsung, and Xbox. Basically, if you have the app, you can watch the free episodes.

Signing up for HBO Max

If the company’s gambit works, these free episodes might convince you to subscribe to HBO Max. If you’re a movie buff, you might want to take advantage of the ad-free tier for $14.99 a month. For the rest of the year, Warner Bros. Pictures movies will premiere in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously. If you’re not interested in watching The Matrix 4 or Dune at home, you might prefer the cheaper tier, which costs $9.99 a month, but includes ads.

Today’s Top Deal Fire TV Stick 4K just got a rare 20% discount — don’t miss out! List Price:$49.99 Price:$39.99 You Save:$10.00 (20%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission Available from Amazon BGR may receive a commission

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Windows 365 trials are now locked because everyone’s swarming to try it

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Microsoft brought Windows 10 to the iPad a few weeks ago, in what seemed like an extraordinary feat. However, you don’t actually get to install Windows on the iPad, and Apple will never allow that. But you can run the full Windows 10 experience on any internet-connected device that supports an internet browser. That’s because Windows 365 runs in the cloud, allowing businesses to offer their customers virtual Cloud PCs. Admins can customize these cloud computers in real-time, offering the kind of upgrades and downgrades that aren’t possible with real computers. Microsoft made Windows 365 available to businesses earlier this week, and it didn’t take long for the new Windows experience to sell out. Microsoft confirmed as much on social media, noting that the Windows 365 trial is locked for the time being.

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It might seem impossible for a cloud service to sell out, but Microsoft ran out of cloud capacity to meet the massive demand. Brand new devices routinely sell out as companies hurry to mass-produce more units. But with a device in the cloud, the buyer doesn’t interact with a physical device. Microsoft could theoretically offer infinite Windows 365 virtual computers. But, in practice, that’s impossible.

Microsoft needs to have the cloud infrastructure in place to support all these concurrent Windows 365 sessions. And the company has run out of capacity less than two days after making Windows 365 available to businesses.

How Windows 365 works

Users added to a Windows 365 trial subscription will consume the virtual PC resources allotted to them. Admins can configure only certain key aspects of a Cloud PC, including CPU, RAM, and storage. They can add and remove resources as needed. They can remove people as well.

That’s a great type of Windows product that some businesses might find very useful. Rather than buying and maintaining new hardware for employees, some companies might want to deploy fleets of virtual Cloud PCs. Each employee gets their unique Cloud PC that’s hooked up to fast internet. And they can access their Windows 365 PC from any device that can connect to the internet. Hence, running the full Windows 10 experience on iPad is now possible.

Best of all, the user’s hardware will not impact Windows 365 performance. The Cloud PC experience is streamed to any internet-connected device. It’s the internet connection that matters here, not how powerful the user’s personal computer is.

Microsoft paused the trial

Microsoft did not disclose full pricing details for Windows 365 in mid-July when it announced the service. But the company opened the trial on August 3rd, revealing that Cloud PC rentals start at $20 per user per month. The cheapest Cloud PC features one CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. The price goes up to $24 per month if you don’t own a Windows 10 Professional license.

That’s a great starting price, but it’s only available to businesses. Regular users who dream of a full-fledged Windows PC in the cloud can’t get on Windows 365. The best part of the service is that businesses get to try it for free for two months. That helps explain why Microsoft sold out all its Windows 365 trial “units.”

Microsoft confirmed everything on Twitter. Businesses that weren’t sure whether or not to get on the Windows 365 trial a few days ago will now have to wait. They can sign up to be notified when cloud resources become available.

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