Microsoft stuck to its plan of giving a free copy of Windows 10 to anyone who wanted to upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 for just one year. However, it’s still possible to make the transition without spending any money.

How can I get Windows 10 for free?

1. Don't activate

You can download Windows 10 from Microsoft's website and install it. It will prompt you for an activation key. But it's possible to skip this and ignore the nagging messages once you begin using Windows 10.

Aside from a few things that won't work, such as the personalisation options, Windows 10 remains completely usable.

This is against Microsoft's terms of use, mind, but it's helpful if you need to install Windows 10 as a virtual machine or to test something. 

As far as we know, Windows 10 will continue to work indefinitely without activation. And there are ways to get around the personalisation limitations. For example, if you want to change the wallpaper, right-click the image you want in File Explorer and choose "Set as Desktop background".

3. Use the 90-day Enterprise trial

For the completely legal and above-board way to use Windows 10 for free, you can download the 90-day trial of the Enterprise version. Obviously it will expire after three months, but if you just want to test how Windows 10 runs on an older PC or laptop, this is a decent option.

Don't forget, too, that you can install the Home version of Windows 10 using method 2 here and then pay to buy a license key once you've decided you're happy with everything.

And if you do decide to buy a license key there are ways of getting it a lot cheaper than Miicrosoft's price. We explain everything in What's the difference between Windows 10 OEM and retail licence keys?