Is it possible to get a Windows 10 upgrade key without actually upgrading?

MrCrispy

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The free offer is ending in a week. I know its possible to perform the upgrade then do a rollback even though that sounds complicated.

The problem is my family has 3 laptos running Win 8/8.1, and they don't have broadband. I do maintenance and upgrades when I visit them on holidays. So they can't download the huge sizes for upgrade and even if they could they are not tech savvy enough to do it.

I'm hoping there's a way but I fear there won't be?

edit - for key I probably mean entitlement
 
D

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Unfortunately there's no way to lock in the free offer without either upgrading or doing a clean install before July 29th. There are no "keys" for Windows 10 except those you actually buy with the retail product (yes, it really is available for sale even considering it's free for another week and has been for the past 51 weeks too). And yes, it'll be a "digital entitlement" as Microsoft is calling it since they'll store the activation hash for Windows 10 on their servers for the future, but it will require the actual in-place upgrade or (my recommendation) the clean install on those machines in the next week or they're going to miss out.

Perhaps you could grab the necessary ISO and make a USB stick (or 3) and ship it to 'em overnight and talk 'em through the upgrade - it's a relatively painless most of the time but one can never be absolutely certain. I simply won't do upgrades myself unless there is absolutely no other choice - that's only happened like 3 or 4 times in the past 3 decades, and 2 of those were on my own laptops last year when Windows 10 first came out so I could lock in the upgrade for my machine and my wife's but we rolled back to our Windows 7 images immediately afterward. I simply refuse to use it and the only real reason I did the upgrade was to lock it in for potential future owners if we decide to sell our laptops.

While I don't think Microsoft would do it - they'll just say something like "We've given you a year to do this, surely you could have made it happen by now with an upgrade..." - you could chance calling them and presenting the situation your family members are in, the lack of broadband service, the desire to get the free upgrade offer locked in, etc. Who knows, maybe they'll provide some Product Keys they can use in the future, can't hurt to try.

Is there no place in the area they live in that has some high speed wireless connection like a library (yes they do still exist), a coffee shop, restaurant, an airport perhaps, a hospital (they usually have pretty decent Wi-Fi nowadays since so much medical hardware uses it for reducing the cable clutter and nobody is gonna kick them out for just sitting in the waiting room for an hour or two)someplace with free Wi-Fi they could make use of at least with one of the machines to get the Media Creation Tool and make a USB stick to install Windows 10 from? Should be something in their area they can make use of, at least I would presume there is.
 
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MrCrispy

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Well I'm going to make a USB stick and send to them then try and walk them thru the process, seems like the only feasible option. I really try and avoid change for change's sake because it involves a lot of stress for non tech users. e.g. when I upgraded them to Windows 8, the new start menu etc were a pain so I have them on Classic Shell now. I suppose I can also ask them to find a neighbor/public wifi with decent speed and they can start the upgrade, should be easier than having to start it from Usb. Still a little concerned about things going wrong and they would not be able to recover or use their pc at all.

I think Windows update can find updates on local network right? i.e. if the 3 laptops are connected to same network, then only one of them will actually download the files for update (should be faster)?

Thanks for your detailed answer, and yes its my fault I didn't take care of this sooner!
 
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Ok, one question: were the laptops (you said 3 of them) running Windows 7 prior to having Windows 8/8.1 on them, or were they always with 8/8.1? I ask because if they had 7 on them they'll have the COA sticker on the bottom of the laptop someplace (might be in the battery compartment) and if so they should use that Product Key to get the installation done. There's no technical reason for it but if they were originally Windows 7 machines that's the best course of action. If they had Windows 8 on them originally then upgraded to 8.1 the Product Key is embedded in the BIOS/UEFI and not really retrievable directly; Windows 10 would know this and not even ask for a key during the installation - it will only prompt for a key on a Windows 7 machine where it has to be manually entered.

I'm not 100% sure about that same network thing with Windows 10, I don't use the OS personally so I can't comment on that aspect, perhaps someone else can but I do recall something about that potential feature where just one machine will get the updates and then other machines on the same network can or should be able to pull them from that machine so as to not waste bandwidth. It's not a bad idea if it actually works, but if you provide them with the ISO they'll have that much to start with then they can see about those updates.

First thing I'd really say you should do before they do any upgrade is use the ability for Windows to make at least a System Recovery backup point or whatever Windows 8/8.1 offers. I use third party tools (Acronis True Image) for my imaging duties - I know it can be a pain in the ass doing support from afar but it might be the best solution before they do the upgrade just in case.

Good luck.
 

SuperSubZero

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I'm not sure how desirable it would be to get Windows 10 in an environment where it's not possible to get updates.
 

Skripka

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I'm not sure how desirable it would be to get Windows 10 in an environment where it's not possible to get updates.

Also generally in a bandwidth starved environment, with an OS that loves to phone home and use consumer systems as seed-boxes for updates.

W10 Enterprise, once it is stripped down is a pretty good OS. My only complaint is the shoddy video playback on some streaming sites (like Eurosport Player), where W7 streams fine on any browser but W10 is glitchy to varying degrees of non-usability on all browsers.
 
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The issue with Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB (the original release) and now the relabeled Windows 10 Enterprise S edition should legitimately only be used by like 0.1% (that's one-tenth of one percent) of consumers if that many and those are people that work in I.T. jobs or perhaps have shelled out somewhat big bucks for an MSDN account and are legitimately licensed to be able to use it on their hardware (like a work laptop or something else). There are a ton of folks using it nowadays (hint, hint) and they're not actually supposed to be doing so (hint, hint). :)

While it might offer better potential as a stripped down OS, hardly anybody outside a business or corporate environment should be using it. Regular consumers, average Joe's with home PCs and laptops, even enthusiasts for the most part, nope, but it's being done just the same.
 

Skripka

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The issue with Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB (the original release) and now the relabeled Windows 10 Enterprise S edition should legitimately only be used by like 0.1% (that's one-tenth of one percent) of consumers if that many and those are people that work in I.T. jobs or perhaps have shelled out somewhat big bucks for an MSDN account and are legitimately licensed to be able to use it on their hardware (like a work laptop or something else). There are a ton of folks using it nowadays (hint, hint) and they're not actually supposed to be doing so (hint, hint). :)

While it might offer better potential as a stripped down OS, hardly anybody outside a business or corporate environment should be using it. Regular consumers, average Joe's with home PCs and laptops, even enthusiasts for the most part, nope, but it's being done just the same.

Yea well, it is nearly 1GB of useless unwanted bloat and crap lighter. Don't need or have any want of Cortana or nanny crap, don't need a useless appstore of cellphone games on my desktop....Speaking as should haves, LTSB should have been the default Windows experience consumer side-it is largely what normal people actually want out of an OS.
 
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But Microsoft - and most companies, actually - aren't in business to make or provide what people want, oddly enough: they're in business to make profit for the company owners or shareholders. Take Apple for example: people wanted and even needed Bluetooth on the original iPhone and while the communications chip on it fully supported it they didn't provide that functionality for what, almost a full year with a later update (and they even made iPod touch owners pay for the update which was pretty fucking lame by any standard).

Anyway, going off-topic so I'll shut up after saying that while I agree that LTSB is a better version overall for many people including enthusiasts, I still say Windows 10 sucks overall. :D
 

DrLobotomy

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I have Windows 7 on my 260 GB SSD. I have a 64 GB SSD that I was going to install my free upgrade to. Once the install is complete and activated, I want to unplug that drive and set it in a drawer. I then want to hook up my windows 7 drive back up and return to normal business. Will the current windows 7 still get updates or is it now going to be un authorized install?
 
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From a purely technical standpoint it shouldn't, but it will - while you technically are surrendering the license for Windows 7/8/8.1 (whatever edition) when you take advantage of the upgrade, I seriously seriously doubt Microsoft will stoop so low as to actively start blocking or disallowing people that lock in the free upgrade just in case but continue to use Windows 7/8/8.1. Having said that, yes I suppose I'm one of those people that have taken advantage of the free upgrade offer (last July when Windows 10 was released) for my two laptops, one being my primary machine and the other being the wife's primary. Since we've been using Windows 7 since last July when technically they could have "pulled the plug" on us around September 1st (after 30 days you lose the downgrade rights to the previous OS you used for the upgrade offer), I don't suspect Microsoft will go that far as stated and I will continue to use Windows 7 as long as I can.

The only reason I took advantage of the free upgrade offer is in case I/we decide to sell our laptops so the next owner(s) might use Windows 10 if that's their choice - I myself (and the wife) have zero use for it, period.

So it's up to you I suppose whether or not you wish to do things technically with legitimacy or just blow it off and get the free upgrade then come back to it at a later time if you want. You don't have to leave Windows 10 on that SSD sitting in a drawer as you can clean install Windows 10 anytime you want on the same hardware once you've actually taken advantage of the free offer and activated it since the activation hash will be stored on Microsoft's servers. You'll never even have to enter a Product Key ever again on the same hardware to install Windows 10 and get it activated, that happens automagically after the free upgrade is locked in.
 

DrLobotomy

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I just don't want to give up my Windows 7 install. It is a work of art. But I'm a poor cheap bastard and I want to play with Windows 10. I have Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 and CentOS 6.x on different drives and I don't want to lose that setup.
When I am ready to move over I will, but I don't want to drop $100 if I don't have to.
 
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So, do the clean install on the spare SSD, get it activated with the Windows 7 Product Key and voila, you're good to go till Microsoft decides "Hey, we just found out we can stiff Windows 7/8/8.1 users who aren't legit..." and all hell breaks loose. :D
 

DrLobotomy

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So, do the clean install on the spare SSD, get it activated with the Windows 7 Product Key and voila, you're good to go till Microsoft decides "Hey, we just found out we can stiff Windows 7/8/8.1 users who aren't legit..." and all hell breaks loose. :D
Right on. Thanks.
 

MrCrispy

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I think 2 of the laptops have a Win 7 sticker, and I actually have a few Win 7 keys I'm not using right now. But can a Wi 7 key still be used during a clean install of Win 10? I thought that wouldn't work? If it does then that solves the problem and I will do a clean install when I visit them in a few months.

As to why they need Win 10, the short answer is they don't. I've written a lot here about how I didn't like the direction MS was taking with Win 8, but I also don't have a problem with the OS, I am an Insider too and have been running Win 10 for a long time now with no issues. The problem with huge updates is a big one but its been there for a while. I think most end users won't notice 99% of the things we like to discuss (like the extra apps/services etc), it looks nice, runs as fast or faster than Win 7, is supported, and is familiar, that's all I really care about. IMO its a far better OS than OSX or Linux still.
 
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If you have an actual Retail class Windows 7 Product Key (or several) you can technically use those to clean install Windows 10 on any machine and then get it activated so the free upgrade is locked in before July 29th - because they're Retail class keys they can be transferred to other hardware configurations aka machines in the future if so desired. In fact Microsoft recently announced that if you do use a Microsoft Account (aka MSA) with your Windows 10 installation (meaning you tie it to your Microsoft account online and not use a local login) the licenses will be tied to your MSA for the future and can be transferred as needed to other machines - that should only be relevant for Retail class keys, of course.

For the Windows 10 clean install:

1) Install Windows 10 clean meaning during the installation wipe the drive of any/all partitions or at least the "System Reserved" and actual system partitions (pretty much meaning C:) - then point the installer to that unallocated space (since you just deleted those two partitions) and the installer will create what's needed in that space. If it's an entire drive that's fine too, I myself always split my drives if they're larger than 128GB in size (which is how large my SSD is now, finally got one) - for hard drives I typically have an 80GB partition but now with an SSD as my system drive I just use the full capacity and have hard drives in my laptop (well, one is internal in the optical bay and I have two more attached to eSATA ports, one on the laptop and one on the docking station so I have 4 drives on this laptop). Anyway, install 10 clean on whatever storage you have.

2) During the installation it will ask you for a Product Key, you might be able to enter the Windows 7 key(s) directly at that point (not all at once obviously) but I can't say for certain; in my experience of doing a clean install it has never accepted the key(s) I've provided so my recommendation is skip the key entry when prompted - it even gives you a Skip button so use it. It might ask for a key a second time depending on the situation, if it does then skip that one as well. When the OS is fully installed and you can get it online, at that time go to activate Windows 10 and that's when you punch in the Windows 7 key at which point it'll activate online.

Having said that, if you do have multiple Retail class Windows 7 Product Keys you might be able to do it like this:

- do everything I just said to get Windows 10 installed
- log into your Microsoft account (if you don't have one then create one) and tie that to the Windows 10 installation - this is the crucial step in this method I'm describing and where it differentiates from just installing Windows 10 plain and simple so make SURE you do this, it's required for that new thing Microsoft recently announced so it can tie the activation licenses to your MSA
- activate it with a Windows 7 Product Key and wait for it to verify it's activated
- reboot the machine
- log back in making SURE you're using the MSA information as the login so it again is tied to your Microsoft account
- go back to the activation dialogue and choose "Change Product Key" and enter another one of the keys you have
- it should activate against the new key just the same way but verify that it's activated (if this even works)
- reboot again and repeat

Now, if that actually works it should tie the Retail class keys to your MSA and from that point on those keys can be used to install Windows 10 on other hardware because the original activation hash will be tied to that machine you used - because they're Retail class keys you should be able to transfer the licenses to new builds/hardware configurations because Retail class keys offer that ability.

I can't guarantee anything related to that second method but from a purely technical standpoint I think it should work, so if you attempt it and it doesn't, then you'll just have to do upgrades or clean installs as required before July 29th.
 

DrLobotomy

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I think 2 of the laptops have a Win 7 sticker, and I actually have a few Win 7 keys I'm not using right now. But can a Wi 7 key still be used during a clean install of Win 10? I thought that wouldn't work? If it does then that solves the problem and I will do a clean install when I visit them in a few months.

As to why they need Win 10, the short answer is they don't. I've written a lot here about how I didn't like the direction MS was taking with Win 8, but I also don't have a problem with the OS, I am an Insider too and have been running Win 10 for a long time now with no issues. The problem with huge updates is a big one but its been there for a while. I think most end users won't notice 99% of the things we like to discuss (like the extra apps/services etc), it looks nice, runs as fast or faster than Win 7, is supported, and is familiar, that's all I really care about. IMO its a far better OS than OSX or Linux still.
I think 2 of the laptops have a Win 7 sticker, and I actually have a few Win 7 keys I'm not using right now. But can a Wi 7 key still be used during a clean install of Win 10? I thought that wouldn't work? If it does then that solves the problem and I will do a clean install when I visit them in a few months.

As to why they need Win 10, the short answer is they don't. I've written a lot here about how I didn't like the direction MS was taking with Win 8, but I also don't have a problem with the OS, I am an Insider too and have been running Win 10 for a long time now with no issues. The problem with huge updates is a big one but its been there for a while. I think most end users won't notice 99% of the things we like to discuss (like the extra apps/services etc), it looks nice, runs as fast or faster than Win 7, is supported, and is familiar, that's all I really care about. IMO its a far better OS than OSX or Linux still.
Make sure you instal Home version of Win10 if you have win 7 or 8 Home key. It defaults to Pro and you will have reinstall to make it Home :(
 

MrCrispy

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If you have an actual Retail class Windows 7 Product Key (or several) you can technically use those to clean install Windows 10 on any machine and then get it activated so the free upgrade is locked in before July 29th - because they're Retail class keys they can be transferred to other hardware configurations aka machines in the future if so desired. In fact Microsoft recently announced that if you do use a Microsoft Account (aka MSA) with your Windows 10 installation (meaning you tie it to your Microsoft account online and not use a local login) the licenses will be tied to your MSA for the future and can be transferred as needed to other machines - that should only be relevant for Retail class keys, of course.

For the Windows 10 clean install:

1) Install Windows 10 clean meaning during the installation wipe the drive of any/all partitions or at least the "System Reserved" and actual system partitions (pretty much meaning C:) - then point the installer to that unallocated space (since you just deleted those two partitions) and the installer will create what's needed in that space. If it's an entire drive that's fine too, I myself always split my drives if they're larger than 128GB in size (which is how large my SSD is now, finally got one) - for hard drives I typically have an 80GB partition but now with an SSD as my system drive I just use the full capacity and have hard drives in my laptop (well, one is internal in the optical bay and I have two more attached to eSATA ports, one on the laptop and one on the docking station so I have 4 drives on this laptop). Anyway, install 10 clean on whatever storage you have.

2) During the installation it will ask you for a Product Key, you might be able to enter the Windows 7 key(s) directly at that point (not all at once obviously) but I can't say for certain; in my experience of doing a clean install it has never accepted the key(s) I've provided so my recommendation is skip the key entry when prompted - it even gives you a Skip button so use it. It might ask for a key a second time depending on the situation, if it does then skip that one as well. When the OS is fully installed and you can get it online, at that time go to activate Windows 10 and that's when you punch in the Windows 7 key at which point it'll activate online.

Having said that, if you do have multiple Retail class Windows 7 Product Keys you might be able to do it like this:

- do everything I just said to get Windows 10 installed
- log into your Microsoft account (if you don't have one then create one) and tie that to the Windows 10 installation - this is the crucial step in this method I'm describing and where it differentiates from just installing Windows 10 plain and simple so make SURE you do this, it's required for that new thing Microsoft recently announced so it can tie the activation licenses to your MSA
- activate it with a Windows 7 Product Key and wait for it to verify it's activated
- reboot the machine
- log back in making SURE you're using the MSA information as the login so it again is tied to your Microsoft account
- go back to the activation dialogue and choose "Change Product Key" and enter another one of the keys you have
- it should activate against the new key just the same way but verify that it's activated (if this even works)
- reboot again and repeat

Now, if that actually works it should tie the Retail class keys to your MSA and from that point on those keys can be used to install Windows 10 on other hardware because the original activation hash will be tied to that machine you used - because they're Retail class keys you should be able to transfer the licenses to new builds/hardware configurations because Retail class keys offer that ability.

I can't guarantee anything related to that second method but from a purely technical standpoint I think it should work, so if you attempt it and it doesn't, then you'll just have to do upgrades or clean installs as required before July 29th.

Thanks again. They are TechNet/MSDN keys from a while back when I was a member, I don't think they are retail class but I've never had any trouble using the other keys from there. I'd like to keep using the free upgrade based on the key that came with the retail machine so we're going to try an update. I did find a 14393 iso on this site - Download Windows 10 Build 14393.3 ISO images & KB3176925 CAB Files, I'm not sure if this is legit or not yet. We are all using Microsoft accounts (I don't know why so many don't like it) so I guess my key is tied to my install already. I'd in fact prefer to do an upgrade so all the software doesn't have to be reinstalled etc.

The general policy I follow is -
drive C is 50-100GB depending on disk size. rest is D
I move all user folders (docs, pics, videos, desktop) to D first thing after install - so an OS reinstall is not a big problem
In my dads case I have pointed his Documents folder to inside GDrive, 15GB is enough for him and everything is now backed up, it works well enough even on slow speeds
I have given them external 500GB-1TB drives to plug in and take backups, so I'm not worried about data loss, just the pain of reinstalling things

Make sure you instal Home version of Win10 if you have win 7 or 8 Home key. It defaults to Pro and you will have reinstall to make it Home :(

Thanks, good to know.
 
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Technet keys are indeed considered Retail class but, technically you're not supposed to use them just for shits and giggles meaning everyday casual use, they were supposed to be for development and testing purposes only but at this point Microsoft just doesn't give a shit. :)

Do not use the Insider Preview build ISOs, none of them, use the one you get from either using the Media Creation Tool or what I recommend would be the Techbench site which offers the latest official stable build which is 1511 aka "Threshold 2" - get the upgrade locked in properly before the 29th and then after August 2nd when the actual "Anniversary Update" is released (according to what Microsoft has said) then you can do another clean install at that time and you shouldn't have to use the Windows 7 keys at all (since you locked in the free upgrade).

I know that getting the multiple updates that have been released since the TH2 build came out earlier this year could be an issue given the non-broadband situation for the family members you're talking about but even so, I strongly recommend avoiding the Insider Preview builds like that 14393 build or any of them.
There's no logical point in using the Insider Preview builds at this point because they're considered to be beta quality and they will more than like not allow an upgrade (which I can't stand as noted) to the official Anniversary Update when it's available.

But of course it's up to you, just trying to save you some hassles since you're working from a distance it seems.
 

illli

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Technet keys are indeed considered Retail class but, technically you're not supposed to use them just for shits and giggles meaning everyday casual use, they were supposed to be for development and testing purposes only but at this point Microsoft just doesn't give a shit. :)

Do not use the Insider Preview build ISOs, none of them, use the one you get from either using the Media Creation Tool or what I recommend would be the Techbench site which offers the latest official stable build which is 1511 aka "Threshold 2" - get the upgrade locked in properly before the 29th and then after August 2nd when the actual "Anniversary Update" is released (according to what Microsoft has said) then you can do another clean install at that time and you shouldn't have to use the Windows 7 keys at all (since you locked in the free upgrade).

I know that getting the multiple updates that have been released since the TH2 build came out earlier this year could be an issue given the non-broadband situation for the family members you're talking about but even so, I strongly recommend avoiding the Insider Preview builds like that 14393 build or any of them.
There's no logical point in using the Insider Preview builds at this point because they're considered to be beta quality and they will more than like not allow an upgrade (which I can't stand as noted) to the official Anniversary Update when it's available.

But of course it's up to you, just trying to save you some hassles since you're working from a distance it seems.


This is good info. I have a few technet keys myself, but was unsure what to do with them or how to upgrade them. I had a few spare hard drives laying around, but not full systems. Wasn't sure if the upgrade was tied to specific hardware or not, or if I could somehow upgrade them now and then use them later on a new build (plan to build a couple new systems once kaby lake arrives)
 

DPI

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The free offer is ending in a week.

That remains to be seen. Wouldn't be surprised if they announce some extended or "encore" giveaway the same or next day in their desperation to get 10 on "a billion devices".
 
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All it takes to do that is a press release that says "Windows 10 is now installed on a billion devices..." - doesn't have to actually be true since Microsoft is the only one with the actual statistics and there's nobody out there that's going to audit them over the numbers. :D
 

DrLobotomy

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FYI. I used to have a an Action Pack subscription back in the WIndows Vista and 7 days and I was successful in upgrading my Windows 7 pro key to Windows 10 Pro. For internal testing only of course.
 

ncjoe

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miscosoft will announce on aug 1 , ' now , back by popular demand , free windows 10 upgrade '
 

Wizzard

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Clone your system to an external drive, as an image. Upgrade to 10. Restore the image. Voila.
 
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