How To: Free Upgrade From Windows Home to Windows Education Edition

One of the very first posts I wrote on this blog (way back in January 2017!) was on Kivuto and the ability for students to upgrade their Windows devices for free. At the time, this was focused on how students with a device running Windows 7 or 8.1 could move to Windows 10 Education and now, nearly five years later, the conversation is focusing more on Windows 10 to Windows 11.

However, the real key is not so much the version of Windows (7, 8.1 or 10) but the edition of Windows – in this instance, from the common consumer Windows 10/11 Home Edition and the free upgrade pathway to Windows 10/11 Education Edition provided via the Kivuto webstore.

What Is Windows Education Edition?

This is actually the highest and most feature rich edition of Windows as it builds on the Windows Enterprise Edition and you can read the full details here:

Windows 10 Education builds on Windows 10 Enterprise and provides the enterprise-grade manageability and security desired by many schools. Windows 10 Education is effectively a variant of Windows 10 Enterprise that provides education-specific default settings. These default settings disable tips, tricks and suggestions & Microsoft Store suggestions.

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Many of my customers sometimes confuse Windows Education Edition with the similarly named Windows Pro Education Edition but there are some key distinctions:

Windows 10 Pro Education builds on the commercial version of Windows 10 Pro and provides important management controls needed in schools. Windows 10 Pro Education is effectively a variant of Windows 10 Pro that provides education-specific default settings. These default settings disable tips, tricks and suggestions & Microsoft Store suggestions.

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In short: Windows 10 or Windows 11 Education Edition builds on the top of the line commercial Windows Enterprise Edition and Windows 10 or Windows 11 Pro Education essentially is the slightly lower equivalent of the commercial Windows Pro Edition.

Is There a Comparison Chart?

The best place to visualise the differences between these editions is here and it helpfully also includes Windows Home Edition – the most common edition loaded on devices a student or parent might buy from a retail or consumer store. I am not going to screen snip every part of the chart so you really should go and check the full feature differences yourself via the link above, but it’s laid out as follows (remember, Windows 10 Education is effectively the equivalent of Windows Enterprise):

Where you really start to see things differ amongst the versions is towards the higher end feature sets for each section – the below image showing the differentiated value of Windows Intelligent Security

One of the key areas education customers are wanting greater functionality is in the area of flexible management of Windows devices and again, with Windows Education Edition you really see the value:

Want to see the full comparison table? Download it here.

So How Can You Get Windows Education Edition?

Depending on one’s role in the organisation, there are typically two main ways to obtain the Windows Education Edition upgrade:

  1. School owned/managed devices:
    1. As per the Microsoft documentation: Windows 10 Education is available through Microsoft Volume Licensing.
  2. Student owned devices – Student Use Benefit:
    1. This is where it gets interesting with Microsoft’s partner Kivuto offering a customisable webstore for qualifying academic institutions to allow students to complete the upgrade on their personal devices from Windows 10 or 11 Home Edition to Windows 10 or 11 Education Edition. In doing so, students gain all the value of the features listed in the table above at no cost. It also allows the BYOD/CYOD device to be enrolled for management if this is part of the school or university’s device management strategy.

What are the criteria for an academic institution to qualify for this Student Use Benefit? As per Kivuto’s own website:

Your organization may be eligible to use the Kivuto platform at no charge if it participates in one of the following Microsoft Academic Volume License Agreements: Microsoft Open Value Subscription – Education Solutions (OVS-ES) Agreement, Microsoft Campus/School Agreement (CASA), or a Microsoft Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES) Agreement.

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I’ve been helping a number of my customers across Asia Pacific set this up and it’s a super simple process, whereby the Kivuto store connects with the school or university’s Active Directory or, ideally, Azure Active Directory, followed by some theming and customisation to fit branding requirements aimed at reassuring students this is a legitimate webstore to be working with.

How Easy Is It?

The newly released Surface Pro 8 I purchased for my daughters last week

As luck would have it, I was in possession of two brand new Surface Pro 8 tablets that were running the newly released Windows 11 Home Edition and the school my daughters attend had already configured the Kivuto webstore to provide the free Student Use Benefit upgrade to Windows 11 Education Edition. Consequently, I was able to be an ‘end customer’ and complete the checkout and upgrade process myself.

Here is the straightforward process in full:

Log into the web portal:

Using my daughter’s AzureAD credentials, we were able to log into the Kivuto webstore easily

Select the version of Windows to upgrade

Given many devices are still running Windows 10 at this stage, you had a choice of upgrading from Windows 10 Home or Windows 11 Home editions to Windows Education Edition – simply choose the product you wanted:

We selected Windows 11 in the top left as upgrading from Windows 11 Home Edition to Windows 11 Education Edition

Add the product to your cart

It appears very familiar to online shopping, but it’s worth understanding and noting at this stage that there is no cost to this upgrade: it’s a free Student Use Benefit through the Microsoft agreement the school has purchased:

The order is confirmed

You receive an order confirmation number with a link to download the product key to complete the upgrade:

When you click on the link to access the product key this is shown to you on screen as well as emailed to you:

The email confirmation with links to product key and reminder that there is no cost to this upgrade

Completing the upgrade

Once you have obtained the upgrade key to Windows 11 Education Edition, it’s a simple process to complete the upgrade – it does not even require a reboot. Simply hit the Windows key to launch the menu and search and type “activation” to see the shortcut to the Activation Settings:

This shortcut will take you straight to the relevant setting where you can click to “change” the product key to complete the upgrade:

Enter the product key provided by the Kivuto webstore to complete the upgrade – no reboot required! Note: my device already showed Windows 11 Enterprise in the top left as this screenshot was not from the Surface Pro 8 device I was upgrading.

Full Disclosure: it did fail the first time!

When I first entered the upgrade product key it failed for me – see below. I suspect this was some combination of either Windows 11 Home being very new or the Surface Pro 8 being very new. Either way, I tried again after the weekend (during which a number of updates arrived for Windows 11 Home) and the upgrade worked fine and the device is now running Windows 11 Education Edition:

This error occurred on the Friday, when I tried on Monday it worked fine.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re an IT Admin at a school wanting to get the most powerful edition of Windows 10 or 11 onto your devices that you manage, or you’re a student or parent wanting to get a free upgrade, the benefits of Windows Education Edition are numerous and the pathway to obtaining this is simple and straightforward.

As demonstrated by my own experience as a parent above, I was able to quickly and easily upgrade my daughters’ new Surface Pro 8 devices to Windows 11 Education Edition and provide that additional functionality and security at no cost, thanks to the Student Use Benefit available to them through their school’s investment in Microsoft Licensing. If you’re a student in a school wanting the best version of Windows 10 or 11, or an interested parent, make sure you ask your school or university if they’re using the Kivuto webstore to provide you with your free upgrade license.

I am always keen to discuss what I've written and hear your ideas so leave a reply here...

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