Software Windows

How can I upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10?

Windows 8.1 Desktop
Say goodbye: Windows 8.1 is near end of life

Microsoft’s support for Windows 8.1 is finally coming to an end on 10th January 2023.  This much maligned operating system still has a dedicated user-base and if it’s still powering your PC, then we’ve got the simplest solution for you and what’s more, it’s free. Here’s our guides on how to upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10.

Is it free to upgrade from Windows 8.1 to 10?

Yes. When Windows 10 launched in 2015, Microsoft said that the upgrade path from Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 would be free for a year.  Microsoft’s generosity continues to today as it’s still possible to upgrade to Windows 10 for no charge. The update procedure is identical to the steps in our post about getting the latest Windows 10 updates. Follow this guide as the Windows 10 updater will also perform the upgrade to Windows 8.1.

Is my Windows 8.1 machine compatible with Windows 10?

It’s impossible to be certain, but most systems are. We advise that you ensure your backups are up to date before you begin, but in the vast majority of cases, Windows 8.1 will upgrade to Windows 10 without any problems.

The only thing that you may want to think about is speed.

Although history will remember Windows 8.1 as one of Microsoft’s less successful operating systems, it was undoubtedly quick.  Microsoft greatly refined parts of the code behind Windows 8.1 to give it a sizable performance boost over Windows 7, but this trend was bucked (or buckled) when Windows 10 arrived. If you want to upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 then an SSD will really give your machine a boost, but it’s not a necessity.

If you fancy an SSD boost, then follow our simple guide on cloning an existing system to an SSD.

Would a fresh install of Windows 10 be better?

In many cases, yes. Machines collect all sorts of junk and orphaned files during their usage and sometimes a drive re-format followed by a fresh install is the most efficient way to de-clutter the system. To do this, the best method is to create a Windows 10 USB boot device which will allow you to reformat the drive before the installation begins. If you’re passing on or donating the machine, you may wish to consider securely wiping the drive first. For a step-by-step guide on how to perform a fresh installation of Windows 10, follow Stage 1 of our guide on fixing Windows update problems, it’s exactly the same process.

There’s no need to worry about the lack of support for Windows 8.1 as it’s simple to upgrade yourself away from the problem and for no additional costs. Upgrading to Windows 10 allows you to keep existing hardware and use an operating system which is supported until October 2025.

Fancy a change from Windows 10?

About the author

Lee Grant

I can normally be found attacking things with screwdrivers in my small computer repair business or writing a column for PC Pro magazine.

I am also trying to solve a mystery involving David Bowie.

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