If you’ve noticed in the last couple months, we’ve been beating the drum about the Windows 7,8 and 8.1 end of life. It’s coming up in January of 2020 and it is definitely fast approaching. One of the things Microsoft did in the recent past was to offer Windows 10 for free through your activation page in settings in Windows. Unfortunately, that program ended in July of 2016. But you can still get it free, and even if you don’t have a valid activation key there are ways you can get it very inexpensively. If you’re looking to hop off Windows 7,8 or 8.1 and onto Windows 10, we’re going to tell you exactly what you need to do.
The first method is probably the easiest. You’ll need two things: access to the internet and a valid Windows 7,8 or 8.1 key. Go onto either the Microsoft.com website or Google, and search for the Windows 10 download disc image or ISO file. At that screen it’ll prompt you to select an edition. Select the newest edition for Windows, which should be the May 2019 update. From that point on, go ahead and follow the options. There will come a time when they will request your Windows key. Enter that in when prompted, after you’ve downloaded the file. From there you ought to be in good shape.
The second method is running no key at all. Yes--believe it or not you don’t need any key to run Windows 10. There are some caveats to this: you’re doing it on Microsoft’s good graces, so if they ever decide to turn that option off, you’re up a creek. There is also a “nag” watermark on your home screen that can be annoying. Plus, you’re not able to personalize your desktop, themes or anything else until you activate Windows. If you’re okay with that, then this route might work for you.
The third method is to buy a key. Windows offers them for a good chunk of change, however, if you want to spend less money, do a Google or eBay search for a Windows OEM or Retail key (there is a difference discussed below). Just make sure that you do your homework and buy from a reputable dealer so you don’t get scammed. Also, use the key immediately as there have been some reports of the keys expiring. The difference between OEM and Retail is this: an OEM key is telling Microsoft that you’re the guy that originally put the computer together. You won’t get much tech support from Microsoft if you need it with an OEM key. Retail is just the opposite. Retail opens up Microsoft support to you if you have issues with the installation or problems between Windows and any hardware you might install in the computer.
So, those are our three methods to activating Windows 10 with little or no money. Thankfully the licensing servers are still up right now so definitely take advantage of that if you do still have Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 keys. As always, stay tuned for more tips and updates—we’re here to help.
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