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Old 09-11-2019, 05:12 PM
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What's the cheapest way to buy a Windows 10 64-bit home license?


My hard drive died taking with it my copy of Windows 10 (it was a refurbished computer that I guess didn't like being used as a security camera DVR) I searched eBay and saw a bunch of sellers offering keys for $5-$10. My thinking is that these can't possibly be legitimate (or are they).

Is there a cheaper way of getting a legal copy of Windows 10 other than going into the store and buying a retail package, which would cost more than the computer that it originally came on?
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:26 PM
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Newegg and TigerDirect and probably many others have legit product keys, sometimes on 'sale'. Home is cheaper than Pro of course. No idea about sellers on ebay, but I share your skepticism.
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  #3  
Old 09-11-2019, 05:53 PM
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If only the HD gets swapped and Win 10 was activated on the machine, there should be a way to reactivate the OS. I'm not sure about the details, but I suspect this needs a call to Microsoft.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:53 PM
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The ebay keys are almost certainly based on license violations.

A few years ago, Microsoft linked Windows licenses to your Microsoft account. If you used one to log-in to Windows 10, you might be able to re-install Windows and activate it using your MS account.

You can download a copy of Windows 10 from Microsoft to do this if you need it: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/soft...load/windows10
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdcastle View Post
I searched eBay and saw a bunch of sellers offering keys for $5-$10. My thinking is that these can't possibly be legitimate (or are they).
Depends on the definition of "legitimate".

In the sense of "will this satisfy a bona fide license validity audit", likely not. I have seen multiple theories concerning the source of these cheap licenses. Some believe these are actual OEM licences (most of these listings seem to include a statement that they are also selling a motherboard and that you are welcome to drop by at a certain place to collect it) that are being resold, the legality of which AFAIK is a somewhat grey area. There are also other claims, e.g. that these are actual licenses bought using stolen credit card data, or that they are procured from other markets than intended by MS. In short, it seems safe to assume that crimes and/or breaches of contract have occurred somewhere in the supply chain.

However, in the sense of "will this make my Windows behave as a fully licensed OS without the user having to find and install some strange software" the anecdotal consensus seems to lean in favor of "yes, at least for some time". IIRC one of my old laptops had a Windows install with such a license key and ran for several years without any issues.

FWIW, on multiple occasions I have successfully reactivated Windows on systems after replacing a hard drive. It did not require a call to MS.

Last edited by NorthernStar; 09-11-2019 at 06:17 PM. Reason: a spelling error caught me
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:54 PM
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If Windows was activated on the old PC you can just do a clean install on a new hard drive. During installation, skip the step that asks for a key.

Once you finish the install, check the activation screen in settings. It should say “Activated with an electronic license.”

You can create install media on any PC with the media creation tool from the MS download site.
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:58 PM
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Get on another computer and go to this page:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/soft...ja9o0tyowyni00

Download the tool and follow the "create installation media" instructions.

Make sure the PC with the new blank hard drive is set to boot from USB, or DVD or whatever

When the installer loads, select whatever flavour of Windows was previously on the machine, and let it install. At some point it will ask you for a license key, but just select the "skip and do later" option, and let the install complete. It'll phone home and validate the Windows install without you needing to do anything further.
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Old 09-11-2019, 07:24 PM
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OP I believe the Windows key is not stored on the hard drive, but instead in the BIOS--so something like Wolf333's approach should work.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:42 PM
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Although Microsoft officially stopped allowing free upgrades from Windows 7 (and presumably 8.x) a few years ago, you can still do it if you search for the link. I did this 3 months ago maybe, I'm not sure which link I used but looks like maybe Baron Greenback's link might be best.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thelurkinghorror View Post
Although Microsoft officially stopped allowing free upgrades from Windows 7 (and presumably 8.x) a few years ago, you can still do it if you search for the link. I did this 3 months ago maybe, I'm not sure which link I used but looks like maybe Baron Greenback's link might be best.
Yeah, the activation servers will still happily validate manual upgrades from 7 and 8.1 to 10.
  #11  
Old 09-12-2019, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by NorthernStar View Post
the anecdotal consensus seems to lean in favor of "yes, at least for some time".
This is what I tell people: you're not buying a cheap license, you're renting one. I see reviews online for cheap Windows boxes (like sticks and media centers) where people say it worked for a bit and then started getting MS license warnings. Once MS notices something off about a batch of licenses, they clamp down.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:24 AM
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You could try getting a new HD , installing windows, seeing if it pulls the license from BIOS and if not calling Microsoft and seeing if that works. $30 for a new drive, and an hour or so of time doing the install. Decent chance of working one way or the other.

If you don't want that hassle, or it doesn't work, my advice is to just buy a refurbished/used computer with windows installed. My local computer store has refurbished computers with a legit Windows 10 install for $99. That's cheaper than a $130 Windows license all by itself. Sure, it's not cutting-edge gaming-rig hardware, but probably better than the old computer that just died and certainly enough to be a DVR. And you're getting a ready-to-go guaranteed system and license.

If you want less money & more risk, hit Craigslist and buy used. For me, the cost of my time is too high to go that route, but up to you.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:59 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions

The scenario is that this computer (per the sticker on front) originally had Windows 7 on it. It was sold to with a valid (or semi-valid apparently) copy of Windows 10. I'm actually not sure which version.

The thought occurred to me to just buy another refurbished computer, but the problem is that would be another used hard drive and the specific application I use is very hard-disk intensive. Also that leaves me with a computer carcass to dispose of and for some reason it's nearly impossible to find a refurbished computer with an HDMI or DVI port, they all see to come with VGA and Displayport only.

Without an OS Can I look somewhere in Bios to see what the key is or what version of Windows 10 is I need to install? It's a Dell 390 if it matters.
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Old 09-12-2019, 12:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdcastle View Post
Without an OS Can I look somewhere in Bios to see what the key is or what version of Windows 10 is I need to install? It's a Dell 390 if it matters.
Using mine and Wolf's method, it's no big deal to have more than one go at installing. Try installing Win 10 Home first, and if that doesn't validate then try Win 10 Pro. It's very unlikely it'll be one of the other versions.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thelurkinghorror View Post
Although Microsoft officially stopped allowing free upgrades from Windows 7 (and presumably 8.x) a few years ago, you can still do it if you search for the link. I did this 3 months ago maybe, I'm not sure which link I used but looks like maybe Baron Greenback's link might be best.
Now that I think of it, the computer was actually from 8 (not 8.1) to 10, so it should work with any 7 or later install. As long as you're not coming from 7 32-bit presumably.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:36 PM
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It's actually possible to do upgrade installs all the way from MS-DOS 5.0 to Windows 1.0 to Windows 10. I mean, if you have a lot of spare time on your hands. Like this guy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMk0mw_NUu8

Last edited by Baron Greenback; 09-12-2019 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:26 AM
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Do you even have to activate Win10? I know earlier windows versions got nasty if you didn't activate but Win10 doesn't seem to care. My only windows install is running inside a virtual machine on Linux (all my PCs are native Linux). I've never activated it and it runs just fine. Only restriction I noticed is it won't let me change the desktop background.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by zwede View Post
Do you even have to activate Win10? I know earlier windows versions got nasty if you didn't activate but Win10 doesn't seem to care. My only windows install is running inside a virtual machine on Linux (all my PCs are native Linux). I've never activated it and it runs just fine. Only restriction I noticed is it won't let me change the desktop background.
Same here. I've noticed sometimes, though, that after the virtual machine has been up for some amount of time (an hour maybe?), the words "Activate Windows" appear in the lower right corner, floating above whatever I've got open. The words are opaque, though, and easy enough to ignore.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Baron Greenback View Post
It's actually possible to do upgrade installs all the way from MS-DOS 5.0 to Windows 1.0 to Windows 10. I mean, if you have a lot of spare time on your hands.
I did upgrades from MS-DOS 3.3 to Window 7. I could have continued to Windows 10 but wanted to go to 64-bit so that was a "clean" install. (I used a mover program to migrate a lot of stuff to the new system.)

The XP to 7 upgrade was the trickiest. No direct upgrade so a very temporary upgrade to Vista was needed.
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Old 09-13-2019, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Mdcastle View Post
The thought occurred to me to just buy another refurbished computer, but the problem is that would be another used hard drive and the specific application I use is very hard-disk intensive.
Once you get your Windows issue sorted out, consider getting a surveillance or DVR drive designed for this type of application. I use Western Digital purple drives in my DVRs, but other manufacturers make DVR drives.
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Old 09-16-2019, 03:35 PM
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Licenses for Windows 10 are stored online, based on a signature built into your PC. Assuming the original was legit, you should be able to reactivate simply by activating online.

That said, a legit license should have also come with a code somewhere on the computer.
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Old 09-16-2019, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
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Licenses for Windows 10 are stored online, based on a signature built into your PC. Assuming the original was legit, you should be able to reactivate simply by activating online.

That said, a legit license should have also come with a code somewhere on the computer.
Apologies if this is a hijack, but the above brings up a question that I've never seen answered definitively. I recall reading shortly after the initial round of Win7 → Win10 upgrades that the license was only valid for the specific signature, and any modification would require purchasing a new license. There were other opinions (not from Microsoft) that this could not be true. And perhaps there is a basic flaw in my search magic, but I've never seen anything one way or the other on the MS site. Any information out in the Doperverse?
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Old 09-16-2019, 04:57 PM
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Probably best to record security cam footage onto a different storage device than the drive your OS is on. Could be a hard drive or a robust SD card.
  #24  
Old 09-16-2019, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by OttoDaFe View Post
Apologies if this is a hijack, but the above brings up a question that I've never seen answered definitively. I recall reading shortly after the initial round of Win7 → Win10 upgrades that the license was only valid for the specific signature, and any modification would require purchasing a new license. There were other opinions (not from Microsoft) that this could not be true. And perhaps there is a basic flaw in my search magic, but I've never seen anything one way or the other on the MS site. Any information out in the Doperverse?
I doubt MS publish the exact criteria for license continuation, but a new HD certainly is no obstacle.

If it's a planned major change, basically a new mobo, make sure that your license activation is associated with an MS account on the old hardware before you proceed.

For an unplanned major change, like a fried mobo replacement, then contact MS via chat or voice. In my limited experience of doing that, they tend to err on the side of generosity. No guarantee on that though, obviously.
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Old 09-16-2019, 05:40 PM
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On the website Kinguin, the grey market seller "NextKeys.io" has 473,680 completed orders with 4.5 stars of rating. The sale price is $30.86.

Where is this seller getting the keys? At 30 bucks, it is entirely possible that these are legitimate OEM keys purchased in a foreign country where the prices are lower.

Will the key keep working? Given that this has been going on for at least 5 years, and the seller has a pretty high rating, probably.

Is this 100% legit and not in violation of some licensing agreement?

Microsoft corporation has written a several thousand page document that you "agree" to when you install their software. That document is written by Microsoft's attorneys and is entirely one-sided in Microsoft's favor. You either "agree" or you can use a different OS than Windows.

So yeah, no doubt this is in violation of the agreement in some way. Does this matter? Only if you are a corporation with deep pockets.
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