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Windows 10: Get the free upgrade with “incompatible” hardware

January 21st, 2016

Microsoft is still offering a free upgrade to Windows 10 for users of Windows 7 and Windows 8. But if you have an old computer, the Windows 10 upgrade assistant may inform you that your computer is not compatible with Windows 10. This will make the free upgrade impossible, right? No.

The following example will tell you how to get the free upgrade to Windows 10 if you have the incompatible ATI Radeon Xpress 1200 graphics card installed. But in general this procedure should work for other so-called “incompatible” hardware too.

The key is that Microsoft recently allowed to use a Windows 7 or Windows 8 product key to install Windows 10. But you need a recent ISO image of Windows 10 for this to work.

So let’s get started:

  1. Download Windows 10 Version 1511 (64-bit) from Microsoft
  2. Burn the ISO image to a DVD (it’s always good to have a proper installation media)
  3. Start your computer with the Windows 10 Version 1511 DVD
  4. Choose to upgrade your current installation to Windows 10
  5. Enter your Windows 7 or Windows 8 product key and complete the upgrade procedure
  6. (OPTIONAL) After completing the upgrade to Windows 10, check if the license is already activated

The following steps depend on your hardware. This is how to make the ATI Xpress 1200 graphics card run on Windows 10:

  1. Download the working driver for your ATI Xpress 1200 graphics card (Catalyst 9.2 for Windows Vista):
  2. Install the graphics driver, but be sure to not install “Catalyst Control Center” (it’s not compatible, really); it should instantly switch to the appropiate screen resolution.

Gratulations! You’ve just upgraded your incompatible computer to Windows 10 for free.

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