Upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows Vista / 7 / 8.1 - advice needed

Posted 3rd Jan
I've got a Desktop running Vista (that hasn't been connected to the internet for a couple of years but still works ok), and family have a couple of Windows 7 laptops and a Windows 8.1 laptop.

Nephew had asked today if we could upgrade the 8.1 to Windows 10 (as it will help with college work apparently), so i've been noseying around for options. As far as i'm aware all of the systems above have original valid Windows licences.

The price for the official W10 Home upgrade is over £100 so is not an option, i've seen the various codes at prices from a few quid upto the £20ish mark for ebay / groupon offers... but also seen on here a few people mention you can upgrade for free, and just potentially not be able to update the wallpaper etc?

Is there a straightforward guide for how to do this, and if he has the official activation key for 8.1 on laptop already, if he enters that during the upgrade would that make it official? Do you just need a blank USB drive for this?

Any help is welcome - we had originally tried to do the free upgrade when it was available back in 2016 from microsoft to W10, but kept getting error messages or it wouldn't work fully, so we gave up at the time (as it was still working fine for 8.1, and didn't get much help from microsoft at the time).
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People say you can still do it for free but not sure, easiest way I found when doing pcs for others was put win 10 on usb stick (download from ms) it’s free but then you will need to enter key, which you get on eBay for a couple of quid...

or goto ms on each pc and download win 10 directly then add the key from eBay..
Windows 10 is free and no need to activate. Activation only gives you a few personalisation options Eg. Wallpaper

Edited by: "chocci" 3rd Jan
If the PC you are installing w10 onto has a registered w7 on it already, you get personalisation too.
Edited by: "airbus330" 3rd Jan
If you have the inclination, a new HDD, MS windows 10 downloaded onto a bigger than 6gb storage device (USB stick)
That way, you keep your original OS,in case it goes wrong!(IF a desktop machine, could have both HDDs installed, for a dual boot/access old files etc, bit more geeky, but not difficult..)
It genuinely is pretty straightforward, may be worth looking at spec of current pc, and compare to MS advised spec...
Did my mother's VISTA laptop a while back, very intuitive install, and works well..
Windows10 DOES take a bit of getting used to however...
i wouldn't bother with the vista, windows 7 upgrade but the window 8.1 would be ok to upgrade as this is a newer machine.

my last two laptops were window 8.1 but they were automatically upgraded to window 10. i didn't have any say in it.
The less dodgy of the dubious ebay/amazon marketplace etc. sellers seem to be offering Windows 7/8 keys from old systems as 'Windows 10 keys' are Microsoft accepts them. The most dodgy ones share company licences and similar. And of course the worst of them are selling keys bought with stolen credit cards. These sorts of key marketplaces have been shown to be used for money laundering in the past.

So I'd suggest avoiding all of them. Other than the Vista system you already have valid keys for windows that the Windows 10 installer will accept for those systems.
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