Cloning with Windows 10 and it's free upgrade


Apr 6, 2005
I have a lab of 25 Dell computers that all came with Windows 7 Pro. They are eligible for the Windows 10 upgrade. I am curious if there is any issues with cloning at this point or does the upgrade offer create an issue for it? I'd prefer to do the clean install method on the machine I will create the image from.

Deleted member 245375

You might want to grab the ISO you need (32-bit or 64-bit) from the Microsoft Windows 10 Tech Bench site and also grab the documentation which could help you do the cloning/imaging process with minimal fuss - the ISO you get will allow you to upgrade or clean install Windows 10 Home OR Pro - you must choose which one to install during the installation process. If you need to acquire specific edition ISOs (like a Windows 10 Pro ISO alone you can use the Media Creation Tool to get the Pro ISO only:

If that proves useless I or someone else can provide a more detailed step by step but the basic process is this:

1) Upgrade to Windows 10 - this MUST be done one time because the entire "free upgrade to Windows 10" offer is just that, a free upgrade meaning you cannot clean install Windows 10 until you've completed the upgrade fully for the initial installation. Product Keys are not required since you're on OEM hardware and I'm going to presume the machines are all fully updated - or at least your master machine (the one used for this process to create the image) is fully updated and I do mean fully as of today with all possible Windows Updates.

2) Once that machine is prepped with Windows 7 Pro (which you'll be upgrading to Windows 10 Pro, obviously since you can't cross-upgrade editions), you can begin the upgrade process by running the setup.exe on a USB or the contents of the ISO file extracted to some location where you can get to that executable. It will not ask you for a Product Key since it's using the qualifying one of the Windows 7 Pro installation to work with.

3) After several reboots and when Windows 10 Pro is finally installed, verify the installation is activated on the System Properties page.

4) At that point, when the upgrade is fully done and verified to be activated then you can clean install Windows 10 Pro on the same machine using the USB stick or a DVD made with the ISO. During the installation process you will be prompted to input a Product Key at least twice (some people report they were prompted several times for whatever reasons) - the point being you skip the key entry because there is no Product Key for the Windows 10 upgrade or clean install at this time that will work. The first time you'll be prompted you click the "Skip" button; the second time you click the "Do this later" link.

5) When it's all said and done it'll be Windows 10 Pro cleanly installed. As soon as you're online it will contact Microsoft and activate, no user intervention required.

Note: assuming the NIC or wireless card in said machine is supported by the Windows 10 installation media drivers; if you're not sure then download the latest driver for the network adapter before doing this (I'm assuming you're going to read these instructions several times before you ever get started so make note that you may need to have that network driver installer handy for a manual drive install).

That's the bare nuts and bolts of it.


[H]F Junkie
Jan 1, 2007
You will need to upgrade each one, because each one will generate a different identification hash for activation.


Jun 12, 2011
In order to get the key upgraded from Windows 7 to 10 you'll have to do the upgrade on each computer separately. That is unless it's the enterprise version of Windows, then the upgrade is paid only.

The media creation tool can be used to create an upgrade DVD or USB Key so you won't need to download it multiple times. I've used that method myself and it definitely works.

Deleted member 245375

Test case scenario: the OP could do the upgrade process then clean install on the master machine, clone that, and then install the image to a second machine and see what happens. Yes it'll be a bitch if he/she has to do all 25 machines through upgrades then clean installs so I'd say test this possibility first.

Microsoft surely understands that a lot of small or even medium sized businesses will be taking advantage of the upgrade offer so, perhaps some of the already in place solutions for fleet deployments will still work.

Hell, at this point call Dell and ask, or even Microsoft and explain the situation and ask, it can't hurt.


Jan 20, 2006
Guessing that the windows 7 pro are OEM versions. You have no imaging\cloning rights with OEM copies you need to have a volume license. Not that it won't work, it just violates the eula. Don't think that has changed with windows 10, you would need to research that if you wanted to know.


Fully [H]
Feb 19, 2008
Manually update each one using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool and verify activated status. Then create a sysprepped, clean install image and clone each machine.
Nov 10, 2015
I bought 8 identical Dell Optiplex computers for a training room. They came with Windows 7 installed and a DVD with Windows 8.1. I upgraded one with Windows 10 then cloned them all. I found out the hard way that you lose your activation this way. I called Dell, MS and searched the web many times. At the time of this post I don't see there is an alternative to manually upgrading each machine to get the free upgrade. If you want to Clone you have to pay. For some people paying for Windows 10 is cheaper than paying somebody to manually upgrade each machine.

My option is to restore a machine or reinstall Windows 7 or 8 on one machine then clone that machine to the other 7 then manually upgrade each one.