Medium-to-high effort: Try a Windows 7 or 8 key Microsoft Price: When Microsoft first launched Windows 10 back in , it offered Windows 7 and Windows 8 users a truly free, no-strings upgrade to the new operating system.
The promotion was only available for just one year—presumably to accelerate push up Windows 10 adoption rates—and expired in July But even though Microsoft officially ended this program three years ago, it still has yet completely shut everything down. The activation servers have been allowing Windows 7 and 8 keys on some Windows 10 installs. The best free software for your PC ] The Windows 7 or Windows 8 product keys that commonly work for this method are the retail and OEM varieties, while only sporadic reports exist for volume license keys i.
Microsoft If using a Windows 7 or 8 key works for activation, a digital license will be issued to you. You can read our step-by-step guide for how to use that particular program here. Easiest discount: Purchasing an OEM license. License types are different than operating system versions: They dictate what you can do with the software, while OS versions are distinguished by the features available.
Multiple Windows license types exist, but the two commonly available to a home user are the retail and OEM varieties. If you visit an online retailer like Amazon Remove non-product link or Newegg , you can find both retail and OEM licenses for sale. All the features of the operating system version are the same for both license types. The difference is that with a retail license, you can transfer the license key to a different PC later on.
In exchange for a lower price, you get to use the license key on only one PC, period. Microsoft has historically been kind about such situations, however; you can usually call to reactivate the license after replacing a fried mobo.
But it is an extra hassle. Deepest savings: The education discount Microsoft Price: As mentioned above, license types determine what you can do with Windows—and who can use it, as well. Through the Academic Volume Licensing agreements, schools can purchase access to Windows 10 Education for their students, faculty, and staff. Some make it available only on campus machines. Others will grant a license for use on a home machine. The catch: You have to sign up for at least one course to qualify for campus discounts.
Other states use OnTheHub , which has a tool to look up your school. The storefront will require verification of your student status before you can "buy" Windows Typical options are usually of the physical education or dance variety swim, ballet, jazz, boot camp workouts, etc. In those cases, your main options are the OEM license outlined above or buying through Kinguin detailed below.
If you use this method, also keep an eye out for other software deals through your school. Low prices with a caveat: Kinguin Kinguin Price: Kinguin is a website that allows buyers to purchase product keys from third-party sellers—think of it like an eBay or Amazon Marketplace for digital software sales. Opponents of Kinguin swear the keys will eventually lose their activation status because of their unknown origins.
Kinguin Like on Amazon Marketplace, you pick a specific seller from which to buy the product in this case, the Windows 10 license key. So as mentioned above, if these keys are already somehow tied to an original but unactivated PC, things could go sideways during your own activation process.
On top of that, if the hardware used to identify your system i. Each camp makes valid arguments, so ultimately, your comfort level with risk and gray market goods should determine whether this is the option for you.
If you opt for this path, we recommend ignoring Windows 10 Home. When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission.
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Experience Windows 10 Do things confidently. Windows 10 was developed using feedback from millions of people, so you can feel confident that Windows 10 works the way you want it to. Additionally, Windows 10 helps you stay current for a worry-free experience with the greatest features and our latest protection against, viruses, phishing and malware.
A web that works the way you do. The all-new browser is great for getting things done online. The address bar gives you personalized recommendations to get you quickly to your online destination. Take your gaming further. Great Xbox titles, the best of Xbox Live, and your Xbox community, achievements, and game collection via the Xbox app.
Do things across your devices. Take your movies, music, and photos with you across all your devices with OneDrive. Plus, with OneDrive, you get 15GB of free storage space included.
Do things magically. Cortana is your truly personal digital assistant who learns more about you over time. Cortana works across all your devices, from phone to tablet to PC, to help you do more and forget less. Limited number of games available in support cross-device play; additional games to follow. Stream to one device at a time; Streaming with multiplayer from Xbox One requires home network connection and Xbox Live Gold membership sold separately ; Gold also required for multiplayer play on Xbox One.
DirectX 12 only available with supported games and graphics chips. Cortana experience may vary by region and device. Pre-release product shown, subject to change. Apps sold separately. This software is intended for pre-installation on a new personal computer for resale. This OEM System Builder Channel software requires the assembler to provide end user support for the Windows software and cannot be transferred to another computer once it is installed.
To acquire Windows software with support provided by Microsoft please see our full package "Retail" product offerings.