Microsoft Windows 10 Home Edition: Do You Really Need A Product Key?Donna Marie Padua
We mentioned in a previous blog that Microsoft released the latest version of its flagship OS in May. The tech giant then explained its goal to develop more powerful features under the guise of software updates instead of releasing a new version of Windows.
This means we shouldn’t expect to see Windows 11 or 12 in the future.
So if you are thinking about upgrading to Microsoft Windows 10 Home Edition v1903, this is the best time to get it.
Using Microsoft Windows 10 Without License
Microsoft allows anyone to download and install Windows 10 versions for free. In fact, it lets you use the software without activation key and it added this option on the Windows 10 activation prompt.
When the trial period lapses, you should upgrade to a licensed copy if you want a supported OS. As you know by now, when you run an unsupported OS, you can’t get any bugs or other issues fixed by Microsoft. You will have to do the troubleshooting and remedy on your own. If you are a super tech geek then this would probably fine but if you know very little of software, then I highly recommend that you buy your product key.
If you are hesitating because it is expensive, you can get an OEM copy – which is just the same thing – for less from software stores like Softvire.
So whether you want to install Windows 10 in Boot Camp or create a media for virtual machines, you don’t actually need to break your bank.
The Restrictions of Unlicensed Windows 10
Don’t be misled. Skipping the license input when you install your OS won’t actually activate it. Sure, it will work but there will be a lot of restrictions.
If you still remember, Microsoft used a Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) on Windows XP to disable your access to your computer unless you provide a product activation key. For the newer versions, though, Microsoft replaced the WGA with annoying reminders that you are running an unlicensed Windows.
At first, you won’t notice any troubles but eventually, Windows will start nagging you to get a license.
You will see a watermark at the bottom-right corner of your screen to remind you of your unsupported OS. The next, you’ll see a message, saying “Windows isn’t activated. Activate Windows now” every time you open an application.
Later, you will already be unable to change your desktop wallpaper. From the Personalization > Background screen in the Settings app, you’ll see a “You need to activate Windows before you can personalize your PC” message and the options for changing your wallpaper will be unclickable.
There’s a hack here though.
You can still change your wallpaper in other ways. You can just right-click an image in File Explorer and select “Set as desktop background.” Another thing you can do is to open an image in the Photos app, click the menu button, click “Set as,” and click “Set as background.”
Apart from these limitations, Windows 10 will continue to work forever.
The only thing that can eliminate this annoyance is activating your OS with an official key.
However, there are a couple of suggestions on how you can activate it at a more affordable price or even for FREE.
Activating Your Windows 10
- Buy from Microsoft
- Buy OEM from software distributors
- Activate with a free product key
Let’s look closer into each of these options:
Buying your Microsoft Windows 10 Home Edition product key from Microsoft store.
From the official store of Microsoft, a Home version can cost you $139. This purchase is licensed for 1 year and will immediately cause your current Windows installation to become activated. You don’t need to purchase a physical license.
Prices may vary, though, depending on your country of origin. Microsoft charges different prices in different countries and currencies.
Buy OEM from software distributors
In my OEM vs Retail blog, I clarified how OEM product keys are technically the same thing as the retail version.
Buying Microsoft Windows 10 Home Edition OEM license keys is a more affordable option. At Softvire, it is only $103.2 so you save over $35 by taking the OEM key.
OEM is a good option when you just bought a new laptop and aren’t planning to switch to another unit in the near future. I noted in my previous blog that the main difference between retail and OEM is that you can transfer the license to another PC when you use the retail product key, whereas you have to stick to the machine you activated with an OEM product key and have to buy another when you change PCs.
Either way, buying OEM can still be your better option. Anyway, technology changes so rapidly that in 4-5 years, you’ll again have to change your PC to survive the demands of the next generation. Also, newly bought laptops or desktops already come with an activated OEM Windows.
Free Microsoft Windows 10 Home Edition product keys
When you search for free Windows 10 keys, you will find tons of generated keys that claim to activate genuine copies of the software. However, the keys will only work for a trial period of 30 days.
The keys are available for almost all Windows 10 editions including Home, Professional, Education, and Enterprise.
Many of those who tried the keys claim that they work for all computers and all versions of Windows 10. However, you need to be extra careful of scams. While some others are publishing these keys for free, there are those who are using this as an illegal source of income.
Since the dawn of the newest Windows OS, free keys have taken rounds on the internet and Microsoft has since taken hard actions against the illegal sale of individual product keys. Microsoft previously pointed out the distribution of false license keys and gives some tips on how to detect fake software:
With the blocking of over 50,000 product keys, Microsoft fights against a new form of software piracy. The 25-character code necessary to activate Windows or Office were sold as real licenses.
In reality, however, they are often part of time-limited licenses for trial versions or software developers, volume licenses for educational institutions or OEM licenses and are illegally distributed – usually without the knowledge of the actual licensees.
So always stick to what’s legal. If you find the retail very expensive for you to buy, then you can opt for the OEM Microsoft Windows 10 Home Edition product keys from Softvire which are always on sale!