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I have a PC which, in chronological order, was:

  1. running 32-bit Windows 7;
  2. upgraded to Windows 10 with the free upgrade;
  3. received a significant hardware upgrade, including a new motherboard, RAM and processor.

As a result, the Windows copy is no longer registered. I now want to switch to 64-bit Windows 10. If I understand this Microsoft post correctly, I can choose to switch to 64-bit during the free upgrade.

If I reinstall my old 32-bit Windows 7, will I be offered the free upgrade again?
Will the fact that I have already done so but on different hardware exclude me from the upgrade?

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IIRC if you do a clean install of windows 7, then upgrade on top of that with the media creation tool, will upgrade to the same version. So, clean install with media for the version you want, you have, activate, run the media creation tool to upgrade the system (and I chose to keep nothing), then pick the appropriate 64 bit version.

If you lack media https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/software-download/home will get you the exact version in either bitness you have based on the key. I actually lost my key, and windows 7 had some issues with the strange partition setup I had, so I ended up using produkey to recovery my installation key. With the next milestone, you should be able to use your old key directly to reinstall, but with modern install times, and a clean install,its 10 minutes or so. You can download 64 bit media here and it will work with a 32 bit key. Might be worth it for a less painful upgrade.

All it seems to do is check if your windows system is activated, so it should just work. I'd note, there's a specific error if a system's not activated correctly. Media creation tool dosen't seem to check if a key was used before, and well, for OEM boxes the key's the same for many boxen anyway.

Also, the 'free upgrade offer' is dependent on an update. Its not actually dependent on eligibility. I sort of groggily used the wrong media, assumed the key was in place, ran the upgrade tool and well, it failed. I might be wrong though, and lacked caffeine at the time but you can use the creation tool at any time, at almost any update level.

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If you still have the original product key for the original Windows 7 OS, you shouldn't have any problems upgrading. You would need to:

  1. Clean install Windows 7 64-bit.
  2. Activate Windows 7 with your valid product key (it's valid for 64 or 32 bit)
  3. Upgrade to Windows 10 via Windows Update
  4. -OR- Upgrade to Windows 10 via installation media (using the "Upgrade this PC" option)

Doing it this way prevents you having to do the upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit, since Windows 7 licenses are valid for either. You have to reinstall anyway, so the skipping the architecture change saves the installer a little time.

Note: For the purposes of future reading here, the free upgrade option will no longer be available one year from the launch date of Windows 10 (approximately July 29, 2016). After that, this answer would no longer apply and you would simply have to purchase a Windows 10 license.

  • I'm a Linux geek and am doing this for someone else, so excuse my ignorance. Does the official Windows 7 install CD (which I have, including its key) offer both 32 and 64-bit versions? – terdon Oct 25 '15 at 3:29
  • No way to tell without checking one of a few places on the disk itself: superuser.com/questions/189671/… – Moses Oct 25 '15 at 3:42
  • Or if you'd rather be sure, you can download a clean 64-bit ISO. Just make sure the version matches the one your license is for (Home Premium, Pro, etc). These links are legal. MSDN mirror. mirror.corenoc.de/digitalrivercontent.net – Moses Oct 25 '15 at 3:44

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