Read More. Windows 10 Between July and August , you could get Windows 10 for free, if you upgraded from Windows 7 or 8. This helped Windows 10 gain a significant market share. Now, you must buy a Windows 10 product key. Initially, you had to pay the same price you had to pay for Windows 8. We show both ways to activate Windows and workarounds to remove this.
Happily, you can still get cheap copies of Windows Here are your options. How to Get Windows 10 for Cheap or Free in 1. Windows 7 and 8. Meanwhile, Microsoft has closed this loophole.
The only other way to upgrade to Windows 10 for free now until Microsoft removes this loophole too , is to use a PC with a genuinely licensed and activated copy of Windows 7, 8 or 8. Sooner or later you might need it. Let us show you how to be prepared.
However, all Windows versions can be found for less at other retailers. Retailers sometimes offer better deals on product key cards. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to find them for Windows 7 or 8.
The Microsoft License Advisor tool can be used to generate a quote without calling the hotline. There are also deals for governments, charities, and non-profits. Check with the IT department to see if they offer discounts on Windows and other Microsoft programs to employees.
Microsoft brands PCs running an unactivated version of Windows 10 with a watermark in the bottom-right corner of the screen. A Microsoft spokesperson told me that activating Windows 10 ensures you have a legitimate copy of Windows 10, and the watermark is an attempt to alert consumers that their version could be false.
However, if you downloaded your ISO directly from Microsoft, there's no way your copy can be a fake. That means you can't choose personal desktop wallpapers, slideshow backgrounds, Start, taskbar, Action Center or title bar colors, light or dark color schemes, font choices or lock screen options. The lack of custom aesthetics can be a downer, especially if you like to liven things up by changing colors and images. However, we checked, and you can still change your wallpaper if you right-click an image from the web or a personal photo and set it as your wallpaper.
And if you have a wallpaper tied to your Microsoft account, it will appear if you sign into Windows with that account. You can't access personalization options if you don't activate Windows Use the Microsoft Student Discount: Free Microsoft offers students attending certain universities and high schools the ability to activate Windows 10 Education for free.
You can see if your school is eligible and download your free key here. The key is yours even after you graduate. But is Windows 10 Education any different from Windows 10 Home? Windows 10 Education is the same as Windows 10 Enterprise, which Microsoft calls the most robust version of Windows The OS has features targeting security, device control and management and deployment that Windows 10 Home lacks.
In addition to ethical concerns, if you get caught, Microsoft can make you pay up anyway. And while some turn to Microsoft for this purchase, there are third-party websites selling keys for much cheaper than Microsoft.
Now, let's address the elephant in the room. While we can't vouch for all of them, websites selling lower-priced Windows keys are likely selling legitimate codes. One popular site, Kinguin, has 37 merchants worldwide selling Windows keys.
It's just another marketplace. A hint will be if that key is too cheap -- i. And, as with anything else, if you haven't heard of a seller, check their ratings or go elsewhere.
No matter where you get your product key, you shouldn't download Windows 10 from anyone besides Microsoft.
Updated October 30, , 1: Why Are They So Cheap? Some of these keys just come from other countries where Windows licenses are cheaper. They may be legitimate, but they were sold for cheaper in other countries. For example, Windows keys were once much cheaper in China.