Bar­gain Hunter How to get Win­dows for less


TechLife Australia - - WELCOME - [ LIND­SAY HANDMER ]

BUILD­ING A NEW PC (or up­grad­ing and old one) can be very re­ward­ing, but while it is easy to shell out for more RAM, buying a new OS al­ways feels oh-so pricy. It shouldn’t, of course, con­sid­er­ing it’s a key part of a new build and worth ev­ery dol­lar. But with the mess that Win­dows 10 up­grades be­came, it’s easy to be frus­trated by not be­ing able to move your ex­ist­ing copy to a new ma­chine. Not to men­tion, any sav­ings are a good thing, and there are loads of ways to spend less on soft­ware, and more on hard­ware. It gets a lit­tle trick­ier once you dis­cover that many of the more af­ford­able ways to get Win­dows 10 are not al­ways the most le­git­i­mate. To help out, we put to­gether a guide to get­ting the best deal on your next OS. Of course, Win­dows is not the only OS out there, but Linux and MacOS de­serve a sep­a­rate guide.


While it copped some flak, Win­dows 10 is an ex­cel­lent op­er­at­ing sys­tem, es­pe­cially for gamers. Mi­cro­soft also made it very easy for every­one to up­grade their ex­ist­ing Win­dows 7 or 8 PCs to Win­dows 10 for free, so it’s hard to com­plain about the price. Of course, that free­bie has a few caveats, com­pared to the full paid ver­sion. The is­sues arise around what your pre­vi­ous ver­sion of Win­dows was, and if you up­graded or not. Dur­ing the up­grade process, rather than giv­ing a Win­dows key, Mi­cro­soft cre­ates a dig­i­tal li­cence based on the hard­ware in the PC at the time. Once ac­ti­vated, even if you for­mat the ma­chine, it will ac­ti­vate again au­to­mat­i­cally once con­nected to Mi­cro­soft’s servers. Swap out the moth­er­board, though, and Mi­cro­soft sees it as a new ma­chine, and the old dig­i­tal li­cence is not valid. Other hard­ware changes such as GPU and HDD are not an is­sue though. For ma­jor up­grades, this means your ex­ist­ing copy of the Win­dows 10 may have to stay with your old PC. Mi­cro­soft does al­low re­place­ments for failed hard­ware, and some users re­port that go­ing through the phone ac­ti­va­tion process can get it work­ing again, but your re­sults may vary.


The sim­plest op­tion is to sim­ply buy Win­dows — but how to find the best price, and what ver­sion should you buy? Gen­er­ally, the best bet is to com­pare prices from re­tail­ers on ser­vices such as get­ and stati­ — at the time of writ­ing, prices start from about $130. We cover it in more de­tail be­low, but avoid OEM ver­sions, which are of­ten sold very cheaply, as they may not be le­git­i­mate. Stu­dents and ed­u­ca­tors should check with their school — there are po­ten­tially free or dis­counted soft­ware li­cences avail­able. Win­dows 10 Home is the cheap­est, and for nor­mal use, it’s the best choice. Com­pared to Pro, it lacks a few fea­tures, but even the more use­ful, such as Re­mote Desk­top, are not re­ally needed. Un­less your PC specifically needs it 32-bit, you will be in­stalling the 64-bit ver­sion, but both are in­cluded in the li­cence.


While the orig­i­nal free up­grade of­fer for Win­dows 10 is tech­ni­cally ex­pired, it’s ac­tu­ally still pos­si­ble do to. You’ll still need a copy of Win­dows 7 or 8, but you might al­ready have one ly­ing around. It’s also pos­si­ble to buy the lat­ter, and while they’re cheaper than Win­dows 10, the up­date process can be frus­trat­ing, so be pre­pared for some has­sles. One method is via Mi­cro­soft it­self, which still pro­vides the up­grade for those us­ing as­sis­tive tech­nolo­gies. There is no re­stric­tion on what counts as an as­sis­tive tech­nol­ogy, so any­one can use the up­grade. Of course, this falls into a grey area, but is an op­tion. An­other op­tion that worked for us on an old lap­top run­ning Win­dows 8 was to just do the up­grade man­u­ally. Down­load the Win­dows 10 Me­dia Cre­ation tool ( www.mi­cro­ soft­ware-down­load) and run it on your PC of choice. Se­lect ‘Up­grade this PC now’, and fol­low the prompts to up­grade. We have not


tried it (and don’t con­done it), but many users re­port that even non-le­git­i­mate copies of Win­dows 7 can be up­graded suc­cess­fully to Win­dows 10 for free.


Jump­ing onto web­sites such as, there are loads of sell­ers with ‘le­git­i­mate’ copies of Win­dows 10 for sale for as lit­tle as a few dol­lars. These are OEM li­cences, and to get around the reg­u­la­tions, claim to ship with the ‘bro­ken’ com­puter they are from (but don’t re­ally). In re­al­ity, they are likely keys meant to be used in the com­puter re­furb busi­ness, or on an OEM ma­chine, and not meant to be sold in­di­vid­u­ally. We tried one and it worked just fine but there is no guar­an­tee it won’t be dis­abled in the fu­ture. It is also locked to the moth­er­board it is first in­stalled on, but with keys cost­ing un­der $5, it’s not a big deal to buy an­other next time you up­grade. Once again, the le­git­i­macy is a grey area and prob­a­bly best avoided.

Those who use as­sis­tive tech­nolo­gies in Win­dows 10 can still up­grade from Win­dows 7 or 8 for free.

The Win­dows 10 Trial never stops work­ing, but has some mi­nor re­stric­tions and a water­mark af­ter 30 days.

Mar­ket­places such as eBay of­fer cheap copies of Win­dows 10, but these are re­pur­posed OEM li­cences that are best avoided.

Avoid the Mi­cro­soft Store, as its prices are sig­nif­i­cantly more than full ver­sions through other re­tail­ers.

Us­ing Mi­cro­soft’s Me­dia Cre­ation Tool, you can still man­u­ally up­grade Win­dows 7 or 8 to Win­dows 10 with­out re­stric­tions.

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