Windows Activation Methods (getting license)

get windows key free or cheap
You got your new PC(referring to both desktop and laptop) and need to install Windows on it. Or, you have to format your old PC but you don't have the Activation key on you for some reason. Getting Windows 10 is easy, you can download it from the official website or ask for a bootable media from a friend. But getting it activated is the real dilemma. Therefore, in this post, I'll discuss about all the Activation methods.
So, there are 3 common methods for windows activation 
  1. The official way
  2. The Economical way
  3. The risky way

The official way

This is the easiest way to get guaranteed genuine license of the Windows. All you have to do is visit the official Microsoft website to purchase the OS license. But, that assurance comes with a price. At the time of writing this post, Windows 10 Pro costs ₹14,799 and Windows 10 Home costs ₹9,299 at the official Microsoft store.

The Economical Way

If you are Indian then you know most people have the maximum budget of ₹25,000-50,000 for a PC. And paying approximately ₹15,000 for just an OS doesn't seems like a good idea for such people. Even the people capable of buying ₹1.5-2lakh PC will have second thoughts for spending that much on OS. So, what should you do? You turn to authorised resellers offering a discounted price. Those resellers can offer Retail license in the range of ₹2500-5000. Still too costly? You can opt for OEM keys instead, it will cost you ₹700-1400 on average. Only drawback is, OEM keys are activated with Motherboard. So if you change your motherboard for some reason, you'll have to purchase another copy.

The Risky Way

I know for a fact that some people have even lesser budget for PC. I've came across people asking for a PC build for ₹10,000-15,000. With such low budget, an extra ₹1000 saved on OS can have a huge impact on PC congratulation. So in such cases, people turn to shady websites offering retail keys for ₹500-700. I'm not saying all of them are scams but usually they sell gray market keys that might end up getting deactivated by Microsoft. If you're lucky, your key will not be flagged for a long time(10-15 years).

So how do some sellers offer Windows for cheap

There are 3 types of sellers offering cheap Windows Keys
  1. Authorised Resellers : These guys are legitimate PC Hardware/software sellers who ordered a large amount of activation keys from Microsoft and got some discount. That way they can resell the keys for cheap without loss.
  2. Third party Resellers : There can be cases where a authorised reseller overestimated the number of keys they can sell. So instead of total loss, they offer further discounts to some small and upcoming resellers if they buy the keys in bulk.
  3. Unauthorised resellers : These are illegal sales. Microsoft uses different pricing in different countries. So in an underdeveloped country where people can't afford the standard cost, they sell them for really cheap. These unauthorised seller bulk order the keys under a false organisation name and resell those keys in grey market. Some used key also end up in grey market, for example, suppose I bought one desktop for my father and one for my brother. But later they ended up getting a laptop because it is more convenient for them. Since most laptops comes with pre activated OEM license, the old desktop activation keys are of no use to me. So I might give away the Activation key along with the old desktops to the person buying them. He might already own an activation key so he might sell them to someone else and eventually those activation keys might end up in grey market.

Should you buy cheap activation keys?

Well it depends. If you can verify that the person/website is a genuine/authorised seller then yes, go ahead and save some money. But if you don't have a way to verify then it is a gamble. Proceed only if you believe you have a good luck.
What if you can't afford the asking price of a genuine seller?
Then you have two options 
  1. Use a Linux Distro: Most Linux distros are free and open source. Which means you can legally make copies and distribute them to your friends for free. So if you don't have any specific use for windows, use Linux instead. Even I use Linux as my primary OS.
  2. Use Windows legally for free: Yes, you can legally get windows for free. Just visit Microsoft website and download Windows 10 ISO. You can install it and use it without activation but the tradeoff is, you'll see the "Activate Windows" watermark all the time and you'll lose some personalisation option(mainly wallpapers).

What about those free Windows activators?

There are some tools like KMSPico that activates windows for free but they're intended for personal testing purposes only. On top of that, there are numerous fake websites claiming to be official website. And trust me, none of the search results you see on Google are official websites. So you're risking getting a malware by downloading the activator from there. 
An alternative free method is using scripts. Some github users have uploaded some activation scripts that you can run to activate your Windows. Again, this method also is meant for personal testing purposes only.

Are there any other legitimate way of getting official license of Windows for free?

Yes, if your university/college enlisted in the student discount program then all the students of that college/university can claim their free copy. But you'll have to use windows education edition. Which in not a bad thing as Education and Enterprise editions actually have more features than Pro version. Talking about Enterprise edition, some companies also offer free activation of windows for their employees, but generally their IT cell will not give out the keys for activating your home PC. 

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