You need a Microsoft product key to install Windows 10 on your PC. But if you’re on a budget, you can actually use generic product keys. There are legitimate and legal product keys released by Microsoft for free that you can use for installing Windows 10 on your PC. However, these keys may have some limitations.
What are Generic Product Keys and Where to Get Them
When you try to install Windows on a PC, it will require a product key to proceed.
Generic or default product keys simply let users install Windows on their PC. However, it has certain restrictions. But generic keys can be useful for volume licensing and bulk installation, testing and evaluation, VM setup, and as part of the upgrade process from earlier Windows versions.
Each version of Windows has a unique product key. These keys are often updated and can change without notice. You can check for the updated list of default keys or KMS generic keys from Microsoft’s official list.
Microsoft publishes generic keys for various versions of Windows 10, 8, 8.1, and 7, as well as for Windows Server versions. Take note that the keys published on their site can only be used if you have configured a KMS host. Microsoft also has also published a guide on how you can deploy KMS Activation to use generic product keys.
Generic Product Keys Limitations
Using generic product keys will not damage your PC at all. However, its services can be limited. Generic keys can only help you install Windows but they do not provide usage rights. Depending on the key you use, you may only be able to use the key within 30 to 90 days. It will expire and will still require you to install a full retail version of Windows 10.
Generally, a generic key will let you install Windows but it will not let you activate the OS. Tweaking this and bypassing Microsoft will cause you to commit a breach of the End-User License Agreement (EULA) and it can punishable by law.
The best way to proceed is to purchase a full retail version of Windows 10, which you can buy online on Microsoft’s website. Third-party sellers can also provide you with usable product keys, but there is no guarantee that they will work.
How to Upgrade Generic Product Keys to Full Retail Version
Once you have purchased a legal and full retail version of Windows10, you don’t need to reinstall your OS. The Windows you installed using the generic product key can be simply upgraded.
Go to Settings then look for Update and security, then click Activation.
From there, click on Upgrade your edition of Windows then choose Change product key.
On the pop-up screen, type in the product key from the full retail version of Windows you bought. Afterward, click on Start Upgrade.
From there, just as long as the product key you have is legally licensed, the activation will proceed. The process can take about a few minutes to a few hours, depending on Microsoft’s servers capabilities at the time of your activation.