Upgrade from Windows 7 OEM to Windows 10

Can still be feasible to upgrade an existing Window 7, 32 bit installation on 2020? I tried and yes, it is.

Actually this is a suggestion of some of the best articles on this topic, this ZDnet howto by Ed Bott (archive) and this howtogeek howto by Chris Hoffman (archive) to convert a Windows 10 32bit to 64bit.

Tested upgrade path

I’ve walked a long installation path, starting from an 11 years old DVD. This is not the ideal scenario, but I got a very clean state to start from.

  1. Install Windows 7 Professional OEM from DVD or restore from system partition to get a clean state
  2. Upgrade Windows 7 Professional using Windows Update
  3. Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro 32bit, preserving the reserved partitions using the Upgrade this PC now path
  4. From Windows 10 32 bit, create an installation USB with Windows 10 Media creation tool choosing to create a media for an Other PC
  5. Install the new system above the old, preserving the reserved partitions

Tips

The howtos cited explains the above steps, but here are some supplmental tips on different scenarios, plus some things that maybe aren’t so clear at start. I’ve tested all of these:

  • You need an installed Windows 7 version to do the update following the howtos above.
  • Do not mess with reserved partitions: I don’t know if it will broke the upgrade path, but I don’t and it works.
  • You can use Clonezilla to make copies of your OS any time. Personally I do:
    • Before the Windows 7 to Windows 10 update (between 2 and 3)
    • After the 32bit installation (before 4)
    • After the 64bit installation (after 5)
  • Using Clonezilla, you can easily change the Hard Drive keeping the previous state of the OS intact if something goes wrong, ready to be restored.
  • If you have a Windows 7 Professional OEM, you will get a Windows 10 Pro with auto-activated digital license.
  • If you have Windows 7 on an unreadable DVD, try to change the reader before trying to clean up the surface.
  • If you have a DVD, make a copy with something like k3b and flash it on an USB with WoeUSB or similar to speed up the installation

 

Create a Windows 10 recovery disk on Linux

In this howto there are the steps to follow when a Windows 10 OS is not bootable anymore and you haven’t a recovery disk. This is a typical case after a new OS will be installed on Dual boot or boot partition was altered.

  1. Download Windows 10 iso:
    1. Download the official Windows 10 image
  2. Prepare USB to be bootable:
    1. Open GParted with
gparted /dev/DEVICE-TO-ERASE
  • Select the USB drive
  • Device > New partition table
  • Select GPT
  • Apply: this will delete any data on the USB
  • Create a new NTFS partition then Apply (do not use FAT32 since some files can be greater than 4GB)
  • Close GParted
  • Write files:
    1. Unplug and plug USB
    2. Copy all Windows files to the empty USB drive using 7zip with:
      7z x -y -o/media/user/path-to-USB/ Win10_1809Oct_Italian_x64.iso
    3. If something goes wrong during copy, you can mount the ISO image then rsync the source with the USB drive (the trailing slash is important):
  • cd path/to/usb/drive
    rsync -avzp /media/myuser/CCCOMA_X64FRE_IT-IT_DV91/ .
    
  • umount
  • Add boot flag
    1. Open GParted selecting the device just written
    2. Select the new partition then
    3. Select Partition > Manage flags
    4. Select boot flag (esp will be auto-selected)
    1. Use windows tools
      1. Follow this howto by MS to recover MBR, restore BCD or similar actions

    You can follow these steps to write on a USB a recovery ISO from windows the same way.