Microsoft allows anyone to download and install Windows 10 on their PC without having to get a product key. It will keep working for the mean while but we cannot say about the future. Installing Windows 10 without a product key, however, gives you a few small cosmetic restrictions. Well, you can pay to upgrade to a licensed copy of Windows 10 whenever you want after you have installed it. But whether you want to install Windows 10 in Boot Camp on a Mac, put it in an old PC which isn’t eligible for a free upgrade, or you want to create a virtual machine, you don’t need to pay at all to install Windows 10.
How To Install Windows 10 For Free Without Using Product Key
First of all, you need to have downloaded Windows 10. Microsoft lets you download it for free even without a product key.
On Windows systems, there is a Windows 10 download tool which will help you create a USB drive which will be used to install Windows 10. If you aren’t on Windows, you can visit the Windows 10 ISO download page to download an ISO directly, but if you visit the page on a Windows system, it will redirect you to the download tool page instead.
Start the installation process and install Windows the usual way. One of the first screens that will come up will ask you to type in your product key so that it will “Activate Windows“. Since you don’t have one, click the “I don’t have a product key option” at the bottom of the window.
Windows will let you continue the installation process without a product key. Other screens too may ask for a product key to but just look for any link or option that will let you skip the page.
After you have done that, later in the process, you will be asked what type of Windows 10 you want to download- Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro. If you plan to upgrade to the paid version of Windows 10 later on, the Home option will be a better option because it is much cheaper. Whichever version of Windows 10 you pick, it will install normally.
The Cosmetic Limitations
After the installation process is done, Windows won’t actually be activated because you didn’t use a product key during installation. However, Windows 10 doesn’t have many restrictions on an unactivated system. All WIndows does is to complain to you in a few minor, cosmetic ways.
At first, there won’t be any noticeable difference, but later on, Windows will start disturbing you a little bit. The first noticeable thing they do is put a watermark at the bottom right corner of your computer’s screen saying Windows isn’t activated. A “Windows isn’t activated. Activate Windows now” link will also begin to appear at the bottom of the Settings app. This is probably as much persuasion as they do to get you to upgrade. And of course, there are no pop-ups at all.
Next, you will not be able to change your desktop wallpaper from the system’s Setting app (Personalization > Background screen). A notification will be saying “You need to activate Windows before you can personalise your PC” will appear at the top of this window. Also, the options for changing your wallpaper will turn grey and unclickable.
However, there are other ways which you can change your wallpaper. You can simply go to a photo which you want to use as your system wallpaper in File Explorer, right click on it, and click the “Set as desktop background” option. You can also do this on the Photos app by going to the picture you want o use as your wallpaper, click the menu button, click “Set as,” and select “Set as background.” This is unlike Windows 7 which will turn the wallpaper black.
If you want to use a wallpaper from Windows 10 included wallpapers, go to C- > Windows > Web folder in File Explorer and you can set a wallpaper of your choice.
Apart from the limitations above, there are no other necessary restrictions on your PC. Your Windows 10 system will continue to work fine, and you will be able to get all the system updates, and everything else is functional. There are also no other prompts aside the ones above. Unless a new update comes to change this, it will continue to work just fine.
How To Upgrade Windows 10 to an Activated Version
Users can now pay to upgrade their “non-genuine” copy of Windows 10 to a licensed version of Windows 10. To do this, go to the Settings app, click the Update & Security icon, and click on Activation at the left side of the screen. You will see a “Go to Store” button on the screen (this only appears if your version of Windows isn’t activated. When you click the button, it will take you to the Windows Store.
In the Windows Store, you can buy an official Windows license which will be used in activating your Windows 10.Purchasing the Windows Home version costs $120 while the Windows Pro version costs $200. This s a digital purchase, and as soon as the purchase is complete, your current Windows installation will be complete. You do not have to purchase a real license.
The option may not be available in all countries though. The prices above are for the US version of the Windows Store. Windows 10 cost different prices in different countries and currencies.
Previous versions of Windows (Windows 7, 8 and 8.1) work alike. The only difference was that you weren’t allowed to download Windows without a product key. There was also no way to upgrade to a licensed system from within Windows fully. The Windows 10 works like a free demo and you are allowed to pay whenever you want to unlock a few other features of the operating system.You can also use it make all the virtual machines you want in the form of testing mode, or even to install it on your Mac for quick usage or testing purposes too.
Of course, the license agreement which comes with Windows 10 says you are not supposed to use it without a product key, but Microsoft’s license agreements say a lot of other confusing things too. Well, Microsoft’s license agreement still warns against use of the famous “OEM” copies of Windows 10 on PCs you build yourself. If later on, Microsoft no longer wants the use of inactivated copies of Windows 10, they can release a system update which will disable this.