Microsoft recently announced that they have closed a significant loophole that permitted users with older PCs to upgrade to Windows 10 & Windows 11 free of change from Windows 7 & Windows 8. As a result of this, users will no longer be able to install and activate Windows 10 or Windows 11 with an older Windows 7 & Windows 8 license key. While installing Windows is still possible on older machines, you'll need to purchase a new Windows license to activate Windows.
As this blog post from Microsoft states, “The installation path to obtain the Windows 7 / 8 free upgrade is now removed as well. Upgrades to Windows 11 from Windows 10 are still free”. Originally, the upgrade path from Windows 7 / 8 to Windows 10 was offered free of charge for a 12-month period after Windows 10 was first released in July 2015. It seems that Microsoft had left this path open for another 7 years. However, Microsoft has now decided that time is up, and users will no longer be able to take advantage of re-using old Windows 7 / 8 license keys. The last generation of computers that would have these license keys assigned to them are computers that have an Intel 5th generation CPU (or earlier) installed.
What does this mean for Australian Computer Traders and its customers?
Now that we are unable to re-use the original Windows 7 / 8 license keys, any computer sold on our website with a 5th generation Intel CPU (or earlier) will be sold with no operating system installed. This will be clearly marked in the product listing's thumbnail, as well as within the listing's title & description. Please note: This will be written as 'No Operating System' or 'No OS'. Machines with no operating system installed will be sold at a reduced price, these computers will still go through our rigorous refurbishment process.
You may be thinking: “how can I use a laptop or desktop computer without an OS installed?”
The short answer is, you can't use a computer without an operating system installed. However, there are several solutions to this:
- You could install your own Windows operating system.
Windows 10 is available from the Microsoft website, and once installed, you could simply purchase a valid Windows license key to activate Windows.
- You could install one of the many variants of the Linux operating system.
Most Linux distro's are offered for free, and are quite versatile. We can recommend Ubuntu, and Mint as great Windows OS alternatives.
We are deeply saddened by this decision by Microsoft for several reasons:
- Environmental Impact
Many older computers that ran Windows 7 and 8 are still functional, and with the upgrade path closed it's more likely that these computers will start to end up in landfills, contributing to electronic waste and environmental issues.
Some users may not be able to afford newer computers, however these users will be forced to purchase hardware that may place an unnecessary financial burden on individuals and organisations that rely on older machines.
There are many organisations that use software packages and pieces of hardware that were compatible with Windows 7 and 8 but may not work with newer versions of Windows. This can disrupt workflow and require additional investments into updating software and peripheral devices.
With the release of Windows 11, Microsoft has put measures in place to ensure that their latest operating system cannot be installed on a device that has a processor that is earlier than Intel 8th generation. See Microsoft's Windows 11 Requirements for more details. Keeping in mind that Windows 10 support officially ends in October 2025, as covered in our Windows 10 End Of Support article, there has never been a better time to upgrade to a Windows 11 compatible laptop or desktop computer.
We hope that this article clears up any confusion regarding re-using older Windows license keys. As always, if you have any questions or need a hand choosing the right refurbished computer to suit your needs, please contact our dedicated support team on 1300 727 516, or email them at: email@example.com