Do This to Get Windows 10 or Windows 11 Cheap (or Free!)

Windows 10 logo on a laptop screen

Do This to Get Windows 10 or Windows 11 Cheap (or Free!)

Key Points

  • You can get Windows 10 or 11 cheap or even for free by upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11 or using the free version of Windows 10 or 11.
  • Check for student discounts and offers to get the full version of Windows 10 or 11 cheaply.
  • You can use a Windows 7 key to activate Windows 10, but it may not work for Windows 11.
  • Be cautious when buying Windows license keys from third-party sellers as they may be deactivated or not legitimate.
  • Legitimate Microsoft resellers often offer discounts on Windows during sales events like Black Friday.

Did you know that it’s possible to get Windows 10 or 11 cheap? Most people will buy a Windows key from the official Microsoft store for between $100-$200, but there are cheaper alternatives. In this article, we will walk you through how to get Windows 10 or Windows 11 cheap or even for free. You can save up to 80% with these methods.

How to Get Windows 10 or Windows 11 Cheap or Free

Method #1: Upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 Free

The best way to get Windows 11 free is to update from Windows 10. If your computer is running Windows 10 version 2004 or newer, a free update to Windows 11 is available through Windows Update in Settings>Update and Security. You can also go to Microsoft.com to download Windows 11, but they recommend waiting until you are notified via Windows Update that your machine is ready for the upgrade.

Windows 11
You can upgrade from Windows 10 to 11 for free using Windows Updates.


Method #2: Use the Free Version of Windows 10 or Windows 11

Microsoft allows people to use a limited version of Windows 10 or 11 for free. To install the free version of Windows 10, create a Windows 10 media installation, and run through the setup wizard. When asked to enter a license key, select the option to activate later. The Windows installation will continue and you’ll be able to use the operating system for basic tasks.

With the free version of Windows 10, you won’t be able to use personalization features and you’ll be asked to activate your copy of Windows every few days. So, you won’t be able to change the desktop background. There will also be a watermark in the bottom right corner of the screen. Nevertheless, if those limitations don’t bother you, then you can use the free version for as long as you want. It’s a good option for people who need to troubleshoot PC parts.

Windows 11 also can also be used for free, as long as your computer meets the hardware requirements. The system requirements for Windows 11 are different than the requirements for Windows 10. For the first time, you must have a multi-core processor. This means you need an 8th-Gen Core CPU or higher. You will also need 4GB RAM on a 64-bit processor, 64GB or more storage, and there is a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 requirement. Before you download Windows 11 from Microsoft, we recommend running Microsoft’s PC Health Check to ensure your device is compatible.

Method #3: Check for Student Discounts and Offers

Microsoft will provide various schools and education centers with heavily discounted license keys. We recommend this method for getting the full version of Windows 10 or 11 cheaply. If you an enrolled in a university or college, there’s a good chance you can grab an inexpensive copy of Windows 10 or 11. To check for student discounts, head to OnTheHub and enter the name of your school. If your school has a Web Store, it will show all available deals. These deals are also available to faculty members.

You might also be able to access free software from your school’s online student portal. Windows 10 or Windows 11 for Education is often available for free to students. The Windows for Education editions include all the features of Windows, plus some extra features such as AppLocker, BranchCache, and additional security features.

Method #4: Use a Windows 7 Key to Activate Windows 10 or Windows 11

Windows 7 keys are compatible with Windows 10. Microsoft allows Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. While the free upgrade period ended many years ago, Windows 10 still accepts Windows 7 keys, as well as Windows 8.0 and 8.1 keys.

You can enter a Windows 7 key during the Windows 10 installation process or you can enter it later on. So, if you have an old Windows 7 key from a previous computer, whether it’s a laptop or a PC, there’s a good chance it can work with your new computer. You might want to dig through your drawers for that old Windows 7 key!

Keep in mind, the Windows 7 license key must match the version of Windows 10 that you installed on your system. For example, if you have a Windows 7 Home key, it will work with a Windows 10 Home installation. It won’t work with a Windows 10 Pro installation. If the installation media doesn’t match the license key, you’ll have to remake it. Also, some license keys can only be used once. If you already used the key to upgrade to Windows 10, it might not work.

As for Windows 11, you typically can’t use a Windows 7 key to activate Windows 11. However, you can use a Windows 7 license key to install Windows 10 and then upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 for free. Some people have had luck activating Windows 11 directly with a Windows 7 key, but if your machine is still natively running Windows 7, it is unlikely to meet the stricter system requirements of Windows 11. You can check here to see if your machine is compatible.

Method #5: Buy a Windows License Key from Third-Party Sellers

There are many platforms that sell Windows license keys for low prices. Even online marketplaces like eBay often have license keys for sale. Another reputable website for digital products is Digital Chill Mart. The problem is it’s not easy to tell which of these platforms are legitimate. These platforms offer incredibly cheap Windows keys. You can often find Windows license keys on third-party platforms for $10-20 a pop.

While you won’t get into legal trouble with these keys, your license might be deactivated, and then you’ll be back to square one. Also, a lot of these websites sell OEM keys (Original Equipment Manufacturers) that are collected from old prebuilt laptops or PCs. To avoid issues, we recommend buying retail license keys from verified Microsoft resellers and using a payment processor that offers buyer protection.

delete cookies on Windows 10
Third-party sellers may have Windows keys, but we recommend buying from verified Microsoft retailers.


Method #6: Wait for Sales

From time to time, legitimate Microsoft resellers will offer discounts on Windows 10, and we will likely see discounts on Windows 11 in the near future. This is one of the best ways to get Windows cheaply. One notable event is Black Friday, which most online platforms participate in. We recommend adding Windows to your wishlist on legitimate sites such as Newegg, Amazon, BestBuy, and others, so that you’re notified when they’re on sale. If Black Friday is coming soon, it might be a good idea to use the free version of Windows 10 or Windows 11 until you can buy a key at a discounted rate.

Types of Windows License Keys

There are three types of Windows licenses: retail, OEM, and volume. We will give you a brief comparison of each option so that you know what to expect.

Retail Key

A Windows retail key is the best option and also the most expensive. Retail keys usually come in official Windows boxes with installation media. Retail licenses can be carried over to a new system. However, you can only use one retail license on one machine at a time. This is the safest option. Microsoft also provides official support for retail keys.


These are licenses that are tied to specific hardware in your system. Once you activate an OEM license, it will only work with your system. It can’t be carried over to a new computer. Also, if you change components in your build, you might need to buy a new key. Microsoft does not provide support on OEM keys unless they’re bought from the Microsoft store.

Volume Keys

Volume keys are for IT experts who manage multiple Windows machines. These keys are all a part of one parent key and every system uses the same one. Sometimes Volume keys can work on individual machines, but if the parent key is deactivated, then all the linked machines will lose their license.

Can You Get a Virus from a Fake Windows Key?

It’s not possible to get a virus from attempting to activate Windows with an invalid key. Windows will simply return an error and ask you to enter a legitimate code. Having said that, some sketchy websites will ask you to download a file that contains your Windows key. The file may include a virus.

So, if you buy a Windows key from a third-party seller, don’t download any files. Ideally, the seller should send the key directly to your email or account in plain text. If you’re worried about viruses, take a look at our best Antivirus programs.

Wrap Up

To summarize, there are many different ways to get Windows 10 or 11 cheap or free, but there are some risks involved unless you buy retail Windows keys from legitimate Microsoft sellers. You can look for a “Digital Only” option that doesn’t include the box, as it’s usually a bit cheaper. You can also use the free versions of Windows 10 or 11, but they do not include all of the features of the full versions.

Another option is to get Windows from your school’s online hub. Many colleges and campuses offer Windows for free or heavily discounted. These are legitimate copies of Windows for Education, too. There are also sales from time to time, especially around Black Friday at the end of November.

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Do This to Get Windows 10 or Windows 11 Cheap (or Free!) FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is it legal to buy cheap Windows keys?

As long as you purchase from a legitimate reseller, it is legal to buy a discounted Windows key.

Can you use Windows 10 for free?

Yes. Microsoft allows you to use their free version of Windows but personalization features are deactivated.

How much is an official Windows 10 key?

Most legitimate Microsoft keys are sold for between $100 to $200 for a retail key.

What's the best type of Windows license key?

The best Windows license key is retail. These are official keys from Microsoft and can be carried over to a new system.

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