Can you get Windows 10 for free?

Surface Laptop 3 15
Surface Laptop 3 15 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Can you get Windows 10 for free?

Best answer: Yes, but only in some circumstances. Some people can get Windows 10 for free, but not everyone will be able to get a copy without having to pay.Getting Windows 10: Windows 10 license (From $139 at Microsoft)

Upgrading from Windows 7 and 8/8.1

When Windows 10 first came out, Microsoft offered upgrades from older versions of Windows for free. While that offer was supposed to end quite a while ago, it still works. Microsoft seems to have turned a blind eye to the tool and left the path open to upgrade from Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 for free.

To upgrade Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 to Windows 10, go to this page from Microsoft. Then, select "Download tool now." This tool will walk you through the process of updating your machine.

Transferring from another device

If you are building a PC or have a device that doesn't come with Windows preinstalled, you may want to transfer your Windows 10 license from one PC to another. With this setup, you're using something you've already purchased in the past on a new PC, which saves you from having to buy another Windows 10 license.

In addition to saving you money on your new device, transferring a license from an older PC can be useful if you want to retain the product key when selling a computer.

For a step-by-step walkthrough of how to transfer a Windows 10 license, check out our guide.

Getting Windows 10 Education for free

If you're a student, there's a chance that you can get Windows 10 Education for free. Students from some high schools and universities are eligible to receive Windows 10 Education for free, and you get to keep the license forever. That means that even after you graduate, you'll be able to retain your license.

If you're a teacher or work at an eligible school or university, you can't get Windows 10 Education for free, but you might be able to get it for a significant discount. Eligible faculty members can get Windows 10 Education for as little as $15.

To see if you're eligible, fill out your school or university's information on this site from Microsoft.

Buy a license from Microsoft

If you aren't able to take advantage of any of the offers listed above, your best bet is to purchase a Windows 10 license from Microsoft. Genuine Windows 10 licenses won't have a watermark and have access to all of the operating system's advertised features. Windows 10 Home costs $139 and Windows 10 Pro costs $200.

While some people use Windows 10 without activating it, we don't recommend it. An unlicensed version of Windows 10 has a watermark in the corner and prevents you from customizing the operating system.

Another option some people choose is purchasing licenses of Windows 10 from third-party sellers. These are often much cheaper than a license from Microsoft, but they can either be fake or illegitimate. If you do choose to go this route, remember that if a price is too reasonable to be true, it probably is.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at