Microsoft Windows 10 is the indisputable champion of PC operating systems; it is fast and easy to use, runs all your favorite software, and offers a versatile experience whether you use it for education, work, entertainment, or gaming. But at the same time, Windows 10 is very expensive, and it’s going to cost you a fair amount of money to buy it.
Here’s how to get Windows 10 for free as a student:
- Windows 10 Education student discount.
- Upgrade from older versions (Windows 7 or 8).
- Windows 10 Enterprise free trial.
- Use Windows without activating it.
This article will show you how you can get Windows 10 for free as a student. I will also provide some ways you can get Windows 10 at a reduced cost. If like most students, you’re short on money, help is here!
1. Windows 10 Education student discount
Microsoft usually has an affiliation with schools, colleges, and universities, which allows their students to use Windows 10 Education for free.
You must be enrolled in a college or university to become eligible for a free Windows 10 key.
Only a select few educational institutions offer Windows 10 Education, and the availability of a free Windows 10 Education also varies within institutions, i.e., between different departments.
For example, one department in your university may have access to Windows 10 Education, but another department may not.
Windows 10 Education, if available at your university or college, is free, but most likely, your college fees would include its cost. You can check the eligibility of your college or university by going to the OnTheHub website and entering the name of your institution.
Suppose the name of your institution does not appear in the drop-down menu. In that case, it means that your college or university is not a participating institution, and you are not eligible for a free upgrade.
If your institution is eligible, you would be able to download your free upgrade after filling in some personal information such as name, email, and student ID.
As for features, Windows 10 Education is the same as Windows 10 Enterprise but is geared with tools designed for students and teachers as the target audience for Windows 10 Education is academic institutions.
With additional security, management and deployment, and device control features, Windows 10 Education is more streamlined for use in the education sector.
If you have your college email ID but are not currently a student, you may still be able to get an access key to Windows 10 Education through your institution. However, that is unethical and makes you liable to pay Microsoft in full if your theft is discovered.
2. Upgrade from older versions (Windows 7 and 8)
One of the ways of getting Windows 10 for free is by upgrading previous versions of Windows. For example, if you have Windows 7, Windows 8, or 8.1 installed, you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
Even though Microsoft officially ceased support for Windows 7 and 8, users report that a free upgrade to Windows 10 is still possible.
To do this, download Windows 10 and install it. Back up your data before installing Windows as a safety measure. After installing Windows 10, activate the Windows using the product key you used to activate your previous Windows version.
An activation key is good for running Windows on only one PC. So, activating Windows on another device would deactivate the Windows running on your previous device.
Also, an activation key for Windows 7 or 8 Home will upgrade your PC to Windows 10 Home. Similarly, Windows 7 or 8 Pro will upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.
The downside to upgrading to Windows 10 for free using this method is that there is a slight chance that your old activation key may not work. This problem occurs if Microsoft determines that you are not eligible for an upgrade.
To convince them otherwise, you will have to contact their customer service. Then, a process will be initiated where you will enter your key and get a new code. Windows can then be activated using this new code.
Also, you should check the compatibility of your device with Windows 10 before upgrading. If your PC is more than four years old, upgrading to a newer device would be advisable.
Why should you upgrade to Windows 10 from older versions?
Security, compatibility, and compliance are problems that users have to face with end-of-support software.
One of the major reasons for upgrading to Windows 10 from previous versions is that Windows 7 and Windows 8 have reached their end-of-life.
After the life of a particular version of Windows ends, Microsoft no longer sends any further updates, and your PC becomes prone to security threats. As a result, your data becomes vulnerable, and new software is no longer compatible with the old operating systems.
Security fixes by Microsoft are no longer offered after a software reaches its End-of-Support period. Other in-built security features like the Windows firewall still work after Windows end-of-life, but they are not enough to protect against more serious security threats.
New software and latest applications are built for smooth optimization for the latest operating systems. Unfortunately, that means that you will not be able to run the most recent versions of apps if your Windows version has reached its end-of-life.
If you are running an older operating system, it will not deal with the growing data input. As a result, it will start to lag while running more complex operations and the latest applications.
3. Windows 10 Enterprise free trial
Microsoft gives a 90-day free trial for Windows 10 Enterprise. Windows 10 Enterprise is the same as Windows 10 Pro in features and functionality but has some additional features which would be more useful for large organizations.
Although Windows 10 Enterprise is designed for use by large corporations, you can download it and use it on a free trial basis for three months after filling in some information.
Microsoft will require you to provide some information such as your name, company name, job title, email address, and phone number before allowing you to download Windows 10 Enterprise.
But a few minutes of filling in personal information is not the only problem with this method of using Windows for free. A Microsoft representative will periodically call or email you asking you to subscribe to their Windows 10 Enterprise.
Since you intend to use Windows for free, you will have to decline politely.
Aside from this little nuisance, you will have Windows 10 to use for three months for free, enough time for you to think of a more permanent solution.
4. Use Windows without activating
Microsoft allows you to download Windows 10 and install it on your PC for free. You can use Windows 10 for free without actually activating it. You can click on the ‘skip’ option when the notification for activating windows pops up.
This option is supposed to give you a free trial of a Windows 10 experience. However, if you ‘skip’ activating Windows every time the warning prompt appears on your screen, you are essentially using Windows 10 for free.
You can use an unlicensed copy of Windows 10 without running into any major performance issues.
There are a few disadvantages to using Windows without activating it.
A Windows which is not activated will display an ‘Activate Windows’ watermark on the bottom-right corner of your desktop screen. Unfortunately, you also keep getting a warning message to activate Windows between your PC, which gets more frequent and annoying with time.
Although it is apparently free, these irksome messages are a little price you must pay for using Windows without activating it.
According to Microsoft, this watermark is intended to warn you against using a fake version of Windows. But, of course, if you download Windows directly from the Microsoft website, there is no chance of it being a fake.
Some features are also restricted until you activate your Windows. For example, the Personalization settings cannot be changed, including not making changes to your Start menu, taskbar, notification area, and other customization options such as font and lock-screen options.
Another disadvantage of using Windows without activating is that Microsoft won’t assist you if you run into any technical issues. Instead, the tech support staff would first ask you for your activation key before answering your queries.
According to Microsoft, using an unlicensed version of Windows is not illegal, so a few annoying warning notifications and restriction of some personalization features are the only issues you may have to face when using an unlicensed copy of Windows 10.
Other (almost free) ways of getting Windows 10
Buy a cheap key
You can buy Windows 10 keys from other third-party websites at a lower price than what buying directly from Microsoft would cost you. So if you want the complete Windows 10 experience for free without any restrictions or annoying activation warnings, buying a cheap key would be a viable option.
Many third-party vendors sell Windows at lower than original prices. These prices vary for different sellers; Amazon sells Windows 10 Pro for $130, and Newegg charges $99 for Windows 10 Home. Kinguin is charging $30 for Windows 10 Home.
You can activate your Windows using keys from these websites, and although this method is not exactly free, it is cheaper than the other option. Also, you will still have access to Microsoft technical support even if you bought your key from a third-party website.
User reviews from these websites show that, apart from minor issues in some cases, Windows 10 keys from these third-party websites work just as well as keys bought directly from Microsoft.
A few issues customers report from these websites include slow customer service, receiving keys for different versions, or receiving keys that have already been used. So, before making your purchase, make sure that the website has an adequate refund policy.
When buying keys from third parties, you should be cautious of a few other things.
Many third-party websites offering cheap activation keys would not be legitimate.
Buying from them runs the risk of your key expiring or your operating system being blocked by Microsoft. If a website is offering Windows activation keys for free or at too low prices and has shaky ratings, chances are it is an illegitimate venture.
Do not buy from websites that offer no insurance or warranty. Also, refrain from buying activation keys by themselves because then you run the risk of buying a pre-used or false key.
Buy a new laptop
Another free way of getting Windows 10 is to buy a new laptop. Many laptops and PCs have Windows 10 already installed and activated when you buy them.
Several new laptops would cost you just about the same as upgrading to Windows 10.
Although these laptops won’t be the fastest or equipped with the strongest processors, they will carry out basic functions easily.
In this article, we have covered some ways of getting Windows for free.
The best and most reliable method is to upgrade from a previous Windows version and use that version’s product key to activate your new Windows 10. This method gives you an official, legitimate Windows 10 with all its features without having to spend a penny.
Second to this is getting Windows 10 through your education institution. That is not exactly free, but since you are paying a lot of money to universities and colleges, you might as well utilize all the benefits offered.
If the above two options are not available to you, download Windows from Microsoft and use it without ever activating it. You may not have access to some of the features and may have to deal with those annoying warnings, but it will be free.
The above three are the best methods of getting Windows for free, and the rest we’ll leave up to you to decide which option works the best for you.