You’ve come here to learn about ways of getting genuine Windows 10, and I’m happy to tell you that you’ve come to the right place.
It might surprise many of you, dear readers, that there is more than one way of obtaining the most recognizable OS in the world. However, this is no mere list of options. This article serves as a guide and warning because some dangers are less apparent than others.
Here, we will break down every possible method of acquiring Windows 10 with its pros and cons.
How Do I Install Windows 10?
Not many are aware of that, but you can get your installer straight from Microsoft’s official website. You can download any Windows 10 operating system version and burn an ISO file into a DVD. Also, you can create an installation media on a USB drive. After booting from the device of your choice, you can start the installation process. You’ll be asked to enter the product key during the installation process. You can skip it, but eventually, Windows will remind you of its activation.
Get a Proper License Key
Getting a hold of Windows 10 license key isn’t that hard, as there are many reliable sources of obtaining it. They range in price from a whopping $309 to a mere $5. It depends on what version of Windows 10 you want to install.
Official distribution is the easiest and safest route and the most expensive one. Paying the full price for a couple of years old system isn’t the most convenient. You can also completely ignore the activation process and enjoy the “free version” of Windows 10. This raises a couple of questions, though.
What are you missing out on if you don’t activate Windows 10? Where to buy Windows 10 legitimately for a lower price? Are third-party sellers trustworthy? Does my newly built PC face any risks? Here, you’ll learn all possible methods of obtaining the desired version of your operating system with its pros and cons.
Upgrade What You Already Have
For free is a fair price. If you have any spare license key for an older version of Windows, it’s worth giving a try. There’s a loophole for Windows 10. It had an upgrade program from 7 and 8 that was supposed to disappear in July 2016.
And yet, you can still upgrade from 7 to 10 if you have your activation key lying somewhere around. The success is dependent on your version, but it usually works. But note that you can only use a key on a single PC at a time so that it won’t work on multiple devices.
When starting the Windows 10 setup, select “Upgrade this PC now” for a clean install. If you’ve recently changed your PC’s hardware, Windows may not recognize the license. It’s usually tied to your motherboard, so you should be fine if you’ve upgraded everything except the motherboard.
Otherwise, you’ll have to reactivate the OS. This regards everyone who has an OEM key. Luckily, Microsoft provides all the necessary instructions for reactivating Windows 10 after changing PC hardware.
Pros of upgrading:
- You can get a new operating system for free.
- It works with Windows 7 and 8 product keys.
- Easy installation process.
Cons of upgrading:
- You can upgrade only one PC at a time when using the same activation key.
- This method is not officially supported and is stated as obsolete by Microsoft.
- If you swapped your motherboard recently, Windows may not recognize the license.
- The success rate is dependent on the version of the operating system you’re upgrading from.
Don’t Activate Windows 10 At All
Since installing Windows 10 is completely free, you can choose not to activate it. A digital license is not required for the proper functioning of your operating system, so you can entirely skip it. Sounds too good to be true? Well, yes and no. It solely depends on your needs and if you can live with some flaws of not activating it. I know people who haven’t activated their Windows in years, and it’s still working fine. There is a catch, though.
If you install Windows 10 without activating it, you’ll see an “Activate Windows” watermark on the desktop. It functions to alert consumers that their license may be false. But, if you’ve downloaded the ISO from Microsoft, there’s no way your copy is fake. It’s simply a reminder that your product isn’t free and needs to be activated. This annoying watermark at the bottom right corner will be present whether you’re working, gaming, or watching movies. It’s possible to get rid of it by using third-party software, but it won’t solve other problems.
Any personalization options in the Settings menu won’t be available until your Windows is properly activated. You won’t have access to wallpapers, slideshow backgrounds, color schemes, font choices, or lock screen options. Everything in this menu is unavailable. The only accessible feature is right-clicking an image and setting it as your wallpaper. Also, if you have a wallpaper tied to your Microsoft account, it will appear on your desktop right after logging in.
Lack of Microsoft Support
Unsurprisingly, Microsoft won’t offer you any technical support regarding your unactivated version of Windows. If you’re ever in need of using their phone support or want to chat with their techs, they’ll start by asking you for your license key.
Pros of not activating Windows 10:
- Free copy of almost fully functioning Windows 10.
Cons of not activating Windows 10:
- In theory, it can run as long as Microsoft doesn’t find out. In practice, they can shut down your system at the worst possible time.
- “Activate Windows” watermark regardless of what you’re doing.
- Any customer support is unavailable to you.
Use the Windows Education Edition for Students
If you’re a student of any high school or university Microsoft is partnering with, you can get a copy of Windows 10 for free. You can check if your college, university, or school is listed by checking the Microsoft Education partners website. The key is yours even after you graduate, and you can download Windows 11 Education at any time.
Whether you choose Windows 10 or 11, is it lacking anything compared to Home Edition? Actually, it’s the opposite. Windows 10/11 Education has better security features, device control, and management systems that the Home version lacks. On top of it, it fully supports remote desktop, and you have access to exclusive apps like AppLocker and BitLocker. You probably won’t use any of the additional features as a regular user.
After graduation, you will still have access to your .edu e-mail. However, we strongly advise against scamming the system. Despite being ethical, Microsoft has the right to claim full payment for the system if they find out you’ve scammed them. In short, activate your system while still being a student.
Pros of using Windows Education Edition:
- Completely free Windows license if your school is one of Microsoft’s Education partners.
- More features than Home Edition.
- Lifetime license – even after you graduate.
Cons of using Windows Education Edition:
- If you try to activate your license after graduating, Microsoft has the right to claim full payment for the system.
Buy Windows 10 Key From a Third Party Seller
It’s probably the most convenient way of acquiring all Microsoft products, including new Windows keys. It will get rid of the eternal watermark from your desktop on top of being completely legitimate and eligible for Microsoft support. There’s no better way to spend your hard-earned cash on a new system.
The prices in the gray market are very attractive compared to official distributors. The main reason behind this is that retailers often buy them in bulk, which results in a huge discount. This way, they can offer legitimate, cheap keys for less money and still profit from it. However, investments like this require thousands of dollars if you ever thought of doing the same.
We’ve prepared a list of trustworthy online stores and offer software at competitive prices.
RoyalCDKeys works similarly to other websites serving as online stores. Here, you can buy keys for significantly less than retail prices. Although RoyalCDKeys is not a marketplace, its owner is the only seller on the website. It means they’re buying and selling product keys by themselves. It’s a huge selling point for RoyalCDKeys because they take full responsibility for every product key they offer.
According to TrustPilot reviews, RoyalCDKeys is a trustworthy gaming service provider. The delivery is instant, the refund policy is solid, and regular discounts serve as a cherry on top. It’s not the most popular site for purchasing license keys, but we do not doubt that it’s safe and secure. It’s a trusted seller on our list.
Since they’re new on the market, they have to leave a good impression for returning customers, and they certainly do.
Pricing at the time of writing:
- Windows 10 Home CD Key – $2.10
- Windows 10 Pro CD Key – $3.90
- Windows 11 Home CD Key – $3,80
- Windows 11 Pro CD Key (OEM) – $2.55
Buy Windows 10 Key from Microsoft
Microsoft is your best bet if you don’t want to risk getting an unusable key. Additionally, they guarantee a full refund if anything goes wrong. Besides, the official distribution is the only way where you can get a key for Windows 10 Pro for Workstations. But as a regular user, you won’t even use these new features. Microsoft charges the most for Windows 10 keys.
Windows 10 Home goes for $139 (£119.99 / AU$225), while Pro is $199.99 (£219.99 /AU$339). Is it worth it, though? Paying premium won’t benefit you in any way when it comes to customer support.
Their 24/7 phone and online support are available to anyone with Windows 10 key, whatever the source. After spending a lot of money on a new PC, it’s hard to spend another 100$ on a product that you can get with the same specs and support for cheaper.
Pros of buying Windows 10 Key from Microsoft:
- Zero risk of getting an unusable key.
- Full refund.
- Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is only available through official distribution.
Cons of buying Windows 10 Key from Microsoft:
- They charge the most out of all distributors.
- Official support is available for everyone with a legitimate key, regardless of its source.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are cheap Windows 10 keys legitimate?
Yes, they are. It’s the same as selling a used car or apartment you own. Everything you purchase is your property, and you can do whatever you want with it. It’s the same with product keys from every online store.
They’re buying unused product keys from third-party sellers and selling them for profit. They are not officially licensed resellers because they would have to sell their keys for retail price, and that’s the opposite of what they’re doing.
What’s the difference between OEM and retail Windows?
The main difference between OEM and Retail is that the OEM license does not allow moving the OS to a different computer once installed. Other than that, it’s the same OS with a slightly lower price. However, it’s best to pay a bit more for a Retail license.
How much should Windows 10 Pro cost?
The prices are ranging from as low as $4 to a whopping $200. It all depends on the store you’re buying from and if it’s a Retail or OEM version.
Can I get Windows 10 for free?
Yes, if you are a student and your school is a part of Microsoft’s Educational Program. Another way is to upgrade your old Windows license to a newer system. However, results may vary as Microsoft no longer supports the upgrade.
Where can I get Windows 10 cheaper?
From the shops, we listed in our guide. We believe that RoyalCDKeys has the best offer for cheap Windows 10 keys. Not for the price alone, but the fact that it’s not a marketplace but an individual seller. Thus, they take full responsibility for their products and replace them if needed.
Is Windows 10 Pro better for gaming?
No, it isn’t. Paying more for the Pro features won’t improve the performance of your games at all.
Is Windows 11 better than Windows 10?
In some aspects, yes, but the performance difference is negligible. Windows 10 will be a solid choice for an operating system for quite some time.