[FAQ] Upgrading to Windows 10 from Non-Genuine Windows

We know that Windows 10 is a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 users in the first year of Windows 10 launch. So existing Windows 7/8/8.1 users can upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

Windows 10 Upgrade Paths and List of Deprecated Features

When Microsoft announced about this free upgrade offer, the company also indicated that pirated or non-genuine Windows users will also be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. This news came as a surprise and caused lots of confusion between people as they were unable to understand why should a pirated Windows user be allowed to upgrade to latest Windows version for free?

Now to clear all doubts, Microsoft has officially provided some details about pirated/non-genuine Windows and Windows 10 upgrade offer.

For your convenience, we are providing the official information in form of a frequently asked questions (FAQ) list which will help you in understanding the whole idea easily. We'll try to cover all possible questions and doubts in this article.

So without wasting time lets start the FAQ list:

Q.1. Is it true that pirated or non-genuine Windows versions also get free upgrade to Windows 10?

Ans. Yes. Its true. If you are using a pirated Windows versions (Windows 7/8/8.1), you'll get a prompt or notification to upgrade to Windows 10 when its released to public.

Q.2. So does that mean I'll be able to use Windows 10 forever like a genuine Windows user?

Ans. No. Pirated Windows will get free upgrade to Windows 10 but they'll not be able to activate Windows 10 using their pirated product key or license. They'll still need a genuine Windows 10 license to activate their Windows.

Q.3. So what will happen when pirated Windows users are unable to activate their Windows 10 versions?

Ans. It'll work like a trial version of Windows 10. You'll get a limited period of time e.g. 30 days to use Windows 10 and to activate it. If you don't activate Windows 10 within that grace period, you'll be unable to use it further and you'll not be able to log into Windows 10.

Also a watermark on Desktop will become visible telling you that you are using a pirated Windows version and you should make it genuine by activating it using a genuine license key. The exact text of watermark is not known yet but it might be similar to following:

  • This copy of Windows is not genuine.
  • You may be a victim of software counterfeiting. This copy of Windows did not pass genuine Windows validation.

Although it'll not be very hard to remove that watermark from Desktop. People always modify system files using Resource Hacker to get rid of such kind of watermarks.

Q.4. Will there any offer for pirated Windows users to buy Windows 10 genuine license?

Ans. Yes. Microsoft will provide attractive offers to pirated Windows victims so that they can buy a genuine license of Windows 10.

So the bottom line is that pirated or non-genuine Windows users will get the offer to upgrade to Windows 10 but they'll not be able to use it for free. They'll need to activate Windows 10 using a genuine license key, thus they'll need to purchase a genuine copy of Windows 10 from Microsoft.

Also Check:

List of Windows 10 Editions (SKUs)

Who Will Get Free Windows 10?

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Posted in: Windows 10

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  • I'm using an Asus motherboard, with a modified bios, to accept my slic key, so I suppose that will work ok!

  • Thank you so much for such a nice post to clear all doubts towards Microsoft's offer of upgrading to Windows 10 from Non-Genuine Windows for free.

  • People using pirated copies of Windows are referred as victims. Does it mean that they chose themselves to be the victims? Victims may not be the right word! #JustSaying :)

  • What about a Volume Licence key? Is the upgrade to Windows 10 accepted and legal ?

  • Hey VG, my Dell laptop came pre-installed with OEM version of Windows 7 Home Premium. Can I get free upgrade to Win 10?

  • VG

    All genuine Windows 7/8/8.1 will get free upgrade to Windows 10 in first year of launch.

  • If, for example, I have upgraded my Win 8 PC to Win 10, and then reinstalled Win 10 using a USB, will I be able to use my WIn 8 Product key? Btw Win 8 is preinstalled on my laptop.

  • VG

    ^^ Nothing can be said atm. Lets wait for the final release.

  • I am currently using Windows 8.1 genuine (Activated).When I will upgrade to Win 10,my Win 10 will also be genuine (Activated)??

  • VG

    ^^ Of course.

  • What about people in the insider preview, will they get a win10 free upgrade?

  • VG

    ^^ Not all. Only those who qualify for the free upgrade offer.

  • I went all in with Win10 on my desktop. I made a backup on a external drive(win7) then let 10 overwrite the OS. To get the free upgrade will I need to re-install my backup which is genuine or can I just use my genuine product code.

  • VG

    ^^ I didnt understand. Please provide more details about your question.

  • I made a backup of my Genuine Win 7 then installed 10 over it. Will I need to put the backup back in to be able to obtain the free upgrade? Or will 10 be considered pirated if I do not. The other part is can I just change the product code to my Win 7 for 10 to be genuine.

  • VG

    ^^ How will you take benefit of free upgrade offer if you dont have Windows 7 or 8.1 installed?

  • hi VG would you happen to know if installed programs will be carried onto the new OS, or will it only be a clean install of win10?

  • VG

    ^^ Please check points 4, 5 and 6:


  • thats a relief, 4,5 & 6 works for me. thanks for that quick eply VG.

  • Hi,
    I have an Acer laptop which came with Windows 7 preinstalled. A Pentium corei5 Processor and an nVidia GEFORCE GT 330M Graphics card.
    When I reserved my Copy of Windows10, the get win10 app became visible, but after some auto updates from windows update the app disappeared. When I checked through the app it told me that the nVidia card was incompatible and hence upgrade was not possible.
    To test this I installed the Windows 10 Pro Insider preview Build 10130.
    This is giving me some problems and I had to reinstall it completely all over again. Now the start menu has vanished and I have lost all my other software including Office etc.

    My question:
    Should I just install all my software from the bacckup media and wait for the final version of Win10?
    Should I reinstall my Windows 7 from the factory Default?

  • VG

    ^^ It seems a driver problem to me. Since the upgrade app was working fine before installing updates, it seems a new driver of your graphics card caused this problem.

    You should try to download and install the latest driver from the manufacturer website.

    Also there are chances that nVidia releases new drivers for your graphics card before or after Windows 10 launch.

  • My windows 7 is activated with an .exe file. I don't get windows 10 pop up on the tray. Does microsoft knows it is not genuine?

  • I reserved windows 10 when I had a genuine windows 8 but now my Hard disk is crashed and I have to replace my hard disk so I have installed a pirated windows. so in this case will I get a genuine windows 10 or not?

  • VG

    ^^ In order to receive Windows 10 upgrade, the existing Windows 7/8.1 in your computer must be genuine and activated.

  • Wait a minute, if SLP keys are ALL blocked? What about people that has a laptop with a SLP key installed? This is ridiculous!
    What's the use of buying a laptop is your damn licence is nothing to them!

  • Every SLP key generated by illegal loaders, not every one in the world.

  • what is the price if you want to get the windows 10 key to make it genuine?
    or is it cheaper to buy the key for windows 7.

    can Microsoft see which version you need a activation key for?

  • Hmmm...

    I have a genuine copy of Win 7. However, I overwrote it with Win 8 preview - but it was so bad I stopped using the laptop. Sadly, my Mac laptop just died from overheating (very old model with a known fault). So I have an unactivated Win 8 instance that I can't upgrade to Win 10. Ugh. I am just as badly off as I was before! I don't have a Win 7 Disk so can't go backwards. Why can't they just make it free!!! Will they accept a key from a sticker on the bottom of the laptop for Win 7 (assuming it is still readable)?

    Now I am stuck with no Mac and no PC! Linux anyone???

  • I have a pirated copy of windows 7. If I purchase a legitimate USB with Windows 10 Home, will I be able to upgrade the OS as thought it was genuine, or will I have to do a clean install?

  • VG

    ^^ If you purchase genuine Windows 10, you should be able to upgrade. Since you are using pirated Windows 7, I'll suggest you to perform clean installation of Windows 10.

  • what If I have a NOT genuine Windows 8.1 and upgrade to Windows 10 and PURCHASE the Windows 10 key through microsoft " offers " to get the original windows 10 and format my pc afterwards how can I install back the Windows 10 that I purchased on my pc?

  • VG

    ^^ You can directly use genuine Windows 10 product key to activate Windows using System Properties.

  • on my system setting is written that my windows is active, can i upgrade to window 10 for free without trial ?and how can we know if my laptop using genuine windows 8.1 or not ?

  • VG

    ^^ Open System Properties and press Alt key to show Menubar. Now click on "Help -> Is this copy of Windows legal?" option.

  • Ok so I bought a laptop (Win7 Ultimate) and a desktop (Win8 Home Premium) from a friend. They originally had Vista on them, but she got Windows from her school I think (she's going to school to be an IT). My laptop says Windows has been activated and has a product ID and my desktop says Windows hasn't been activated...can I still upgrade to Win10 without paying for a new license/key or whatever? I don't really feel like paying $200 for something everyone else is getting for free...

  • VG

    ^^ If Windows 7 or 8.1 in your device is genuine and activated, you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

  • Well I'm just gonna put Win10 on my desktop, not laptop, but Win8 isn't activated on it...can I still get Win10 for free without having a product key or will I inevitably have to purchase a new license to keep Win10 permanently??

  • So there's an 'offer' for non-genuine copies to become genuine. What exactly is this offer? I imagine it's a discount of some sort, but how much exactly?

  • My win7 Ult is activated and genuine by using the daz loader.
    Will that count as a validated copy for the free win10 upgrade ?

  • VG

    ^^ No.

    If Windows is not activated, Windows 10 will also not activate after upgrade.

    Not yet.

  • I have a laptop with not genuine windows 7 (
    once it had the blue screen of death and i was forced to download and install it )

    however it is only a couple years old and the product key is still on the back.

    can i just download windows 10 and use that old key ? or did the fact that i have a different version now screw me over ?

    Btw my laptop was much faster without the sony interface

  • VG

    ^^ First activate Windows 7 using your genuine product key and then you'll be able to upgrade to Windows 10.

  • When I have a license key on another notebook but sadly its OE is it possibe to somehow transfer the activation to another notebook ? On the laptop with the genuin windows im not using it im running on Linux thats why I ask . Thanks

  • VG

    ^^ You cant use OEM license key of one computer to activate a different computer.

  • previously i was using windows 7 home premium genuine but due to some issue now i am using pirated windows 7.Using my genuine windows key can i get windows 10 forever?

  • VG

    ^^ First activate existing non-genuine Windows 7 using your genuine product key. After that you can upgrade to Windows 10.

  • my product key sticker was written under my laptop....some of its letters are erased...what should i do?

  • Hi,
    i am using win 8.1 genuine,if i upgrade it to win 10 will it be genuine or not.In case if it is genuine for how may years will it be genuine

  • VG

    ^^ If your Windows 8.1 is genuine and activated, Windows 10 will also be genuine and activated for the lifetime.

  • LOL!

    If your copy of windows is not an enterprise/KMS version, and passes an online genuine validation check (only lousy pirates have this problem with windows 7) you get the free upgrade, even if you windows is pirated. if it is NOT genuine, you can still try the upgrade, but your windows 10 won't be activated.

    Legit windows 7 SP1 Retail, Upgrade, or OEM=free windows 10 for life on that device
    Legit Windows 8.1 Retail, Upgrade, or OEM=free windows 10 for life on that device.
    BIOS Mod=free windows 10 for life on the device.
    Daz Windows Loader or other SLID 2.1 injector=free windows 10 for life on the device if MS can't detect it.
    Windows 7 Ultimate SLP key punched into windows anytime update (works on all OEM windows Home Premium)=free windows 10 PRO for life. And MS can NEVER detect it.

    In any case once windows 10 activates you are good.

    Genuine doesn't mean not pirated (chuckle)

  • So basically as a non genuine windows 7 user with the non genuine copy of windows in my bottom right corner. when i upgrade itl just have the same problem. what do you mean by if u run outa trial time you cant log in? you cant login to your computer at all?

  • I was running on a pirated Windows 7 Ultimate activated by Windows Loader by Daz. When the free upgrade to Windows 10 came, I did not hesitate to upgrade since I can reinstall W7 anytime if something fails. What I got is an activated Windows 10 Pro.

    My pirated one became a genuine!!! LOL

  • I cant download Windows 10 in my laptop. So what can I do?

  • hi VG,
    i'm using pirated windows 8.1 pro but it shows activated. Do i able to upgrade it in windows 10 pro.....
    and if i use pirated or non genuine windows 10 than what will cause after one month of installation....pls give right suggestions

  • hei vg when i install windows 10 my pc says 'your pc has some problems we will collect it"
    after that windows didnt install the windows 10 to my pc....

  • VG

    ^^ How did you try to install Windows 10? Using upgrade tool or ISO?

    Your Windows 10 will not activate if your Windows 8.1 is pirated. It'll expire after 30 days.

  • Hey VG.. so i have my laptop with windows 7 and im curently downloading windows 10 to usb..
    i have another pc with pirated windows 7.. will i be able to install windows 10 to it and be good?

  • I bought my laptop new with vista installed, later I had a pirated version of win. 7 installed.can i still get a free version of windows 10.

  • VG

    ^^ No. Windows 10 free upgrade only available for genuine Windows 7 and 8.1 OS.

    You can install Windows 10 on that computer but it'll not activate and will work as evaluation version.

  • I have a Dell laptop that I received from my employer with Windows 7 Enterprise installed. I no longer work for that company and my Window 7 Enterprise version now says it's not genuine. What are my options to upgrade to Windows 10. I'm not opposed to purchasing the upgrade but I don't want to lose my Office 2010 applications. Please advise the least expensive way to move to Windows 10.

  • VG

    ^^ You cant upgrade from Windows 7 Enterprise to Windows 10. You'll need to perform a clean install of Windows 10.

  • What do I do when I have windows seven, (non-genuine) and can't update?

  • Hey, I bought my pc pre owned and after about 6 months I was told to reactivate my windows because the key was used too many times but I can't. So I was left with a watermark on my screen and being told to activate windows constantly. I downloaded a program that removed the watermark and make it think windows was activated. The only problem I've found with this program was that I can't install some updates.

    If I upgrade to windows 10 will it take notice that I don't have windows activated? I have a genuine copy but no key to use

  • VG

    ^^ Use the "Activate via Phone" option to activate Windows by calling Microsoft helpline/customer care and they'll help you in activating Windows.

  • hey VG !
    I do not know much about windows and all that.....................I am having a laptop with pirated windows 10 . if i will upgrade it using windows 10 offline ISO disc image , I have to install the drivers again ??????

    pls rpy

  • VG

    ^^ If you do a clean install, yes. You'll need to reinstall all drivers and software.

  • hello,

    Just want to ask if i business of 50 computers are updated from Pirated Windows to Windows 10.. is it legal to be used for a business even if on the desktop of 50 computers says

    -This copy of Windows is not genuine.
    -You may be a victim of software counterfeiting. This copy of Windows did not pass genuine Windows validation.

    Will the company suffer and be raided by Microsoft

  • VG

    ^^ Of course. You should purchase licenses for the computers and then you can upgrade to Windows 10.

  • My friend has a windows 10 (Activated) installed in his PC. Also, he has a windows 10 activator that he used to activate his windows 10. I have a windows 7 ultimate (not genuine) in my laptop. If I upgraded to windows 10 and used his activator, will I be able to use the genuine windows 10 for free for the rest of my life? :D

  • VG

    ^^ Sorry. I cant help regarding non-genuine Windows or illegal activation methods.

  • It is a dumb upgrade. I did not want to upgrade to 10. I have a genuine windows 7 but after the sudden installation and I stopped it. It tells me that my windows is fake!!! I have had this laptop for 3 years and bought it straight from samsung! ):< I do not like the way there are doing this! I'm busy working and suddenly this! I don't even have time to backup all my files and this! Geez!!!

  • Dell Desktop with OEM Windows 7 Home Installed. Dell Motherboard failed; opted to install ASUS Motherboard instead (for price point and quality reasons). OEM license won't re-activate due to non OEM Motherboard but Windows 10 update notification was already in place. Will it update to Windows 10 and bypass the activation because it's authenticity was verified prior to the Motherboard replacement or will it install and then ask for a Windows 10 license key? I'd hate to have to buy a Windows 10 license key when I do have a legitimate although OEM Windows 7 license. Thanks!!

  • Disregard my last comment.... Windows validation was looking at the pre-installed license key and flagging it as an OEM invalid key. All I did was enter the COA from the sticker on the case (Duh.... I got a really early start this morning) and voila! It validated!! So now I will have no issues should I choose to update to Windows 10.... Thanks!

  • I have installed the genuine version of Windows 8.1. I have pirated windows 10 ISO disc image. If I upgrade my windows using this image file will it be genuine or not?

  • VG

    ^^ Why do you want to use pirated Windows 10 ISO when you can download genuine ISO for free?


  • thankyou so much 4 the article!

  • hi.. i have inatalled non genuine windows 7 ultimate but i am having a genuine windows 7 home premium key which came along with my laptop purchase.. so can i directly update windows 10.. and will it ask for the key in between or whether windows 10 will accept my windows 7 home premium genuine key..

  • VG

    ^^ If you want to upgrade, you'll need to first install Windows 7 Home Premium edition using genuine product key and then you'll be able to upgrade it to Windows 10. Alternatively, you can try to download Windows 10 Home edition and then install it using your Windows 7 Home premium key.

  • So, I installed windows 10 in my laptop (windows 7 genuine) then i uninstall windows 10 and go back to windows 7.. And it said that my window is not genuine..? Why?

  • i had pirated windows 8.1pro,i had upgraded to windows 10 by the popup notification(i reserved the windows before it was released).Now i have received a genuine version of windows 10 pro. i have removed all cracks and i have the "activated" status.i also had done a clean install of windows 10 pro from dvd after that and it is activated by digital entitlement. i also now have received the latest build upgrade(threshold 2).my question is that
    IS IT LEGAL FOR ME TO USE THIS WINDOWS????.as the free upgrade was ment for both pirated and genuine users.

  • how much does the Windows 10 upgrade for victims cost?

  • Hy... I am running with windows 7 genuine...can i download windows 10 or not.? if i download windows 10 will all the drivers will be downloaded and installed \or not.? and if everything is fine.., after installing of windows 10 will it ask for the product key again for installation for windows 10.???

  • VG

    ^^ If your Windows 7 is genuine, you'll automatically receive Windows 10 update via Windows Update. It'll not ask for any product key.

  • If I upgrade and see that windows is activated, does that mean it is genuine?

  • VG

    ^^ If its activated automatically by Microsoft servers and not by using any 3rd party tool, then its genuine.

  • Nice,

    Just found out the shop who sold me my computer didn't installed a genuine win7 version...

  • My Windows 7 is genuine but my Microsoft office is not. This is preventing me from downloading 10. What do I do?

  • There is some wrong information in this article. Here's the correction.

    If Windows 10 is not activated (for example, due to upgrading from non-genuine Windows 7 or 8), it will have a permanent watermark telling you to activate. Also, you won't be able to change Personalisation settings. But other than that, you can use all Windows features without any limitations. Windows 10 WILL NOT expire after 30 days. In fact, it will never expire.

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