Upgrading from Vista to Windows 10 for less than $20

While Windows Vista users are not eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 10, it’s possible to upgrade these systems to a non-pirated version of Microsoft’s latest operating system for less than $20. This requires a lot of downloading, but for about $9 also that issue can be solved.

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Getting a cheap Windows 7 key

The first step when upgrading Windows Vista systems to Windows 10 means an intermediate upgrade to Windows 7. License keys for the operating system are sold for less than $18 online. The site GP2Play is apparently able to sell ‘legitimate keys’ that allow Windows Vista users to upgrade to Windows 7. While Windows 10 keys are also sold, these require a clean install, our method by first upgrading to Windows 7 makes it possible to keep all your files and settings from your Vista installation.

We’ve asked Microsoft whether these keys are really legitimate and got back that users should visit Microsoft’s Howtotell page. On this page Microsoft writes, “With the exception of Product Key Cards (PKC’s) distributed with COA’s, Microsoft does not distribute products keys as standalone products. If you see a listing on an auction site, online classified ad, or other online page advertising product keys for sale, it’s a good indication that the keys are likely stolen or counterfeit.”

Microsoft also writes,” Purchasing from known and trusted sources and avoiding ‘too good to be true’ deals are the best ways to avoid wasting valuable time and money on counterfeit or infringing software.”

So while the keys on GP2Play might work, and many users report they do, they are possibly not legitimate. They are so-called OEM keys which are normally only sold to system builders. Because there is no additional check, changes are high the keys bought from GP2Play work, but use them at your own risk. Another risk is GP2Play itself, according to user reports it’s a gamble on whether you’ll get your key.

Upgrade to Windows 7

When you have a working Windows 7 key, you can upgrade your Vista installation to this OS. Microsoft has a page on its website describing how to upgrade Windows Vista to Windows 7. The upgrade should be fairly easy,  it keeps your files, settings, and programs from Windows Vista in place. It’s advisable to first run the Windows 7 upgrade advisor to check whether your system is able to run the OS.

Downloading Windows 7 can be time consuming on low bandwidth connections. Even worse, after Windows 7 is installed over Windows Vista, it needs to download and install all updates released for the OS, else it won’t upgrade to Windows 10. The updates for a fresh Windows 7 installation are literally hundreds.

A way to save some time is to purchase ‘recovery discs’ sold on e.g. Amazon. These are sold by third-parties and contain most Windows 7 versions, sometimes including Service Pack 1 for $9 to $13. We also asked Microsoft whether they are legal but were again pointed to the company’s piracy page. This page is unclear about these kind of discs, so again buy and use them at your own risk.

Upgrade to Windows 10

After Windows 7 is installed an updated you are eligible for a free Windows upgrade. The easiest way is downloading the Media Creation Tool which will allow you to easily perform the upgrade.

Once Windows 10 is installed the upgrade to Vista is completed while keeping all files and settings (where possible). It’s likely the system will work smoother than before, Windows 10 performs well on ‘slow’ hardware.