Windows Partner Community: Help your customers take advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10

by Steve Adams

US Partner Technology Strategist

There are three months left to take advantage of the Windows 10 free upgrade—the offer ends July 29. If your customer is asking you about the best way for them to upgrade, the answer depends on variables in their environment such as size, geographic disparity, and supporting infrastructure and resources.

While smaller customers, and nearly all consumers, upgrade to Windows 10 on a machine-by-machine basis, larger and more complex customer environments require a more structured approach. Let’s take a look at three ways to achieve successful free upgrades to Windows 10.

Upgrade using Windows Update

This is the most common approach for our consumers and small businesses. The process is initiated manually on each PC so that it can get a digital entitlement (Windows 10 license) from the Windows Store to activate the machine. The user chooses one of the Upgrade options presented in the Get Windows 10 window that presents itself each time the user logs in, or selects the Get Windows 10 icon on the task bar (small Windows icon).


This works well, because it makes sure the PC is compatible, keeps user files right where they are, and is fast and secure. It’s the least intrusive option for Home and Pro machines. With this option, there is a 30-day roll back window, and if the individual experiences issues using Windows 10, or just doesn’t enjoy the Windows 10 experience, they can easily get their machine back to its original state. If they choose to do this, their “free” Windows 10 upgrade (digital entitlement) is maintained in the Windows Store, which enables that machine to be upgraded just about any time in the future, without a need to acquire a separate license.

Media creation tool

Some companies prefer a more structured approach, utilizing a USB, DVD, or ISO copy of Windows 10. The media creation tool can be used to initiate an in-place upgrade manually on each PC that it can get a digital entitlement from the Windows Store to activate the machine. This media can also be used to do a clean install as well on multiple devices. Using other Windows 10 media (e.g., MSDN ISO) may not automatically activate in the Windows Store correctly.

This is the preferred method of getting the Windows 10 image for most organizations that do not have a Microsoft volume licensing agreement or Software Assurance for Windows.

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Volume licensing options

For customers that want more flexibility in their deployment methodology, there are options available through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs:

  • Agreement that allows a customer with any volume licensing agreement above Open to upgrade their PCs to Windows 10 using volume licensing media. Customers must complete the upgrades by the end of the free upgrade period This requires specific Microsoft volume licensing agreements and the customer must complete the upgrades by the end of the free upgrade period, July 29, 2016. For more information about this option, talk to your Microsoft account manager or licensing specialist.
  • Customers may purchase Windows 10 Pro upgrades through their Microsoft volume licensing agreement to cover all the devices being upgraded, which gives the customer the freedom of choosing when and how they deploy Windows 10 in their environment.
  • Customers may purchase Software Assurance for Windows so they can deploy Windows 10 Enterprise utilizing their KMS server at their convenience, utilizing existing deployment tools and methodologies.

More about Windows 10 licensing

Windows 10 upgrade resources

Windows 10 deployment resources


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