My friends, it’s been a great run – but Microsoft will stop selling Windows 10 on Tuesday, January 31, a week after the publication of this article. The news is not necessarily shocking, as the company has been full steam ahead with Windows 11 since October 2021. However, it remains a sad development. Windows 10 is the preferred operating system for many PC users who still can’t bear to upgrade.
Of course Windows 10 is not dead. Microsoft will continue to support both Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro until October 14, 2025, giving many of us on PC an excuse to keep using the operating system until then. If you already have Windows 10 on your PC, you’re good to go. But if you’re going to build a PC, you’ll need a new license to install the beloved operating system. Here you can get one.
Buy Windows 10 directly from Microsoft (while you still can)
As of this article, Microsoft still sells Windows 10 licenses on its website. You can buy Windows 10 Home for $139 ($193) and Windows 10 Pro for $199.99 ($278). If you want to buy a genuine copy of Windows 10 before Microsoft’s deadline for the end of the month, now is the time to do it.
But on February 1, you will not have luck making purchases on Microsoft’s site. Where can you go?
Brick and mortar stores
Just because Microsoft no longer sells Windows 10 doesn’t mean every other retailer is pulling the plug. Look for established retailers such as Best Buy, Staples, or OfficeDepot for copies of Windows 10. Depending on the store and inventory, you may find a digital download or a physical copy of the software.
Look for old PCs with product key stickers
If you have access to an old PC with a product key sticker on the outside, you can use those codes to activate Windows 10 on your current PC. These stickers work all the way back to Windows 7, so it’s a possible solution here.
Be careful with third-party resellers
The first places that pop up when you search for Windows 10 licenses are third-party resellers. These sites have been around for years and they offer copies of Windows 10 for way less than Microsoft. While the Windows developer charges up to $200 for a copy of Windows 10, sites like Kinguin or PCDestination will sell you a key for anywhere from $25 to $40.
The reason these sites can sell these licenses at such a discount is because they somehow obtained the software cheaply. Maybe the site was able to buy the key in another country where Microsoft charges less for Windows 10. Or maybe the key was stolen. It’s impossible to know for sure.
YOU can download one of these keys and hope for the best, but since you don’t real know if it’s legit or not, there’s no telling how your PC will react. You can activate the key and drive Windows 10 to 2025. Or Microsoft could come by in a year and tell you the license isn’t genuine. Or, even worse, you can’t activate the key at all.
While the prices may be tempting, it’s safer to pay full price from a reputable retailer, as I discussed above. Even Amazon’s Windows 10 copies can’t always be trusted. Naturally …
You don’t actually need to buy Windows 10 to use Windows 10
If you just want to use Windows 10 on your PC without paying a dime, you can totally do that, without resort to piracy. Windows is a bit unique: Microsoft actually lets you download and install the operating system on your computer without paying for it first – if you do so from an ISO. You can install the operating system from a flash drive or DVD and, once complete, ignore the pop-ups asking you to activate the software.
Microsoft is placing some restrictions and annoyances on non-activated versions of Windows 10. You’ll be faced with a watermark on the screen, and you’ll lose the ability to change themes or wallpapers (although you can set your wallpaper by right-clicking on A picture). But you can install all updates and use the operating system for the most part as if you had a license. You can always activate the software with a product key in the future if you wish.
You can download the ISO from the Microsoft site here.