How to download and install Windows 10 & 11 for free

Thinking of checking out Windows 10 or 11 for free? Here is how to download and install it without a product key.

The majority of desktop operating systems run on the Windows OS and Microsoft intends to keep it that way by allowing users to install and use Windows 10 for free.

Gone are the days when you had to feel guilty about running an unlicensed Windows operating system. This free Windows 10 is fully functional and does not get in your way.

You can either upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 legally or install a completely new OS on a new computer or partition. This guide shows you everything you need to download and install Windows 10 by yourself.

Free As In Free Beer

Windows 95 CDs came with a product code system that made it impossible to install and run without entering the right key, and this continued with Windows 98 and so on.

The Windows world has changed a lot since then, however, with Linux OS variants dominating the server and smartphone spaces while threatening Microsoft’s dominance of the desktop OS market. Something had to give.

Computer enthusiasts from around the world also found joy in hacking the system for workarounds to get Windows working without a product code. But now Microsoft has given Windows 10 away for free as in free beer.

With free as in free beer (gratis), a software program is free to use as it is, but without further rights. With free as in free speech (libre) software like Linux, on the other hand, you are free to distribute and even modify the code.

So, while Microsoft Windows is yet to become open source, giving Windows 10 away completely free is still a very sound business decision.

What Is Windows Activation?

The entire Windows product key and activation saga could be seen as a marketing gimmick from Microsoft to make more money.

Sure, you could justify stuff like the discs, packaging, and logistics costs of earlier operating systems, but software code is very easy to produce on a large scale.

An operating system like Windows that is used on over 1 billion devices and downloadable over the Internet should be free because there are very competent alternatives.

So, what is Windows activation? It is a premium offer just like Twitter’s checkmark for $8 per month. Activating your copy gives you access to better services than everyone else. Microsoft also says that it helps to identify genuine Windows software. But if you want to be sure that your Windows 10 OS copy is legitimate, then just download it by yourself from Microsoft.

What Can You Do With An Unactivated Windows?

In simple terms: everything. You can work with it, browse the internet, install and use your favorite applications, play games, and build whatever you like with it.

Windows 10 Minimum System Requirements

To install Windows 10 on a desktop computer, make sure the system reaches or surpasses the following specifications. Of course, you can always work with lower configurations, but more is always better.

Here are the Windows 10 minimum system requirements:

  1. 1 GHz CPU (Central Processing Unit) or SoC (System on Chip).
  2. 1GB RAM for 32-bit computers and 2GB 64-bit.
  3. 16 GB hard drive for 32-bit computers or 20 GB 64-bit.
  4. Directx 9 compatible graphics card.
  5. 800×600 pixel minimum display.

*Please note that you will first have to determine your computer’s architecture type. That is if it is a 32-bit or 64-bit system.

Things You Will Need

To get started with your new Windows 10 installation, you will need the following:

  1. A PC – You can either use a completely different PC or a separate hard-disk partition on your existing system. The computer should have the minimum specifications listed above.
  2. An Installation Media – This could be a 5GB USB stick or a DVD with a DVD burner. You need this to download and save the OS image before the real installation on the target machine.
  3. An Internet connection – For downloading the Windows 10 ISO image either using the Windows Media Creation Tool or visiting the Microsoft website by yourself.

How To Download Windows 10 and 11 For Free

If you are already running a machine with Windows 7, 8, or 10, then you can simply use the Microsoft Media Creation Tool to download and prepare your installation media. Head over to https://www.microsoft.com/software-download/ and follow the instructions for your specific OS. Remember to choose between 32-bit and 64-bit.

If you are running a different operating system, you will need to download this ISO file separately, then create your installation media using your system’s startup media creator. And if your system lacks one, check out programs like Etcher or UNetbootin, which both work on multiple platforms.

Windows download

How To Install Windows 10 and 11 Without A Product Key

Once you are done creating your boot media above, it is time to install the operating system on the target machine.

Assuming you installed it on a USB stick, now insert the thumb drive into the target machine’s USB port and power it on.

If it doesn’t boot into the USB stick, you may need to modify the machine’s BIOS configuration by pressing F2 or Delete during the PC’s splash screen display. You just want the PC to try booting from the USB before the hard disk in the system’s boot sequence. So, set it that way and reboot.

Once the installation starts, simply follow the instructions to install Windows on your PC. And when you reach the page that requires a product code with “Activate Windows”, click on “I don’t have a Product Key” and continue with the installation. That’s all.

Disadvantages Of Windows 10 and 11 Without A License

Compared to running a fully-activated version of Windows 10 or 11, there are certain disadvantages to running an unactivated version. These include:

  1. The “Activate Windows” watermark at the lower right side of the display.
  2. An activation message on the settings page.
  3. Not being able to personalize the system’s settings.
  4. Random notifications to activate Windows.
  5. No guarantees of its eternally being free.

If you have no issues with the above, then you are free to go ahead and install Windows 10 on any machine of your choice. Given Microsoft’s extensive license agreement, on the other hand, you may want to do more research or buy a license if you plan on using the system for commercial purposes.

What About Windows 11?

Windows 11 is also available for installation and use without a product key. So, should you go for it instead of Windows 10?

Well, it depends on what you want. If you want to run the latest Windows OS and be on the edge of new developments, such as running Android apps on your PC and so on, then feel free to try Windows 11.

If, on the other hand, you prefer the consistency of sticking to well-known features, then Windows 10 might be for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is it illegal to use Windows 10 without activation?

A: No, it is completely legal.

Q: How long can you use Windows 10 without activation?

A: As it stands, there is no end in sight. It is completely free until Microsoft says otherwise.

Q: How much does a Windows activation license cost?

A: Windows 10 Home version costs $120 while the Pro version costs $200.

Q: How about those cheap Windows 10 keys?

A: They may or may not work, can’t say 100% for sure. Most are cheap because of the world’s regions they got licensed to, but you can never know what the other licensing conditions are.

Q: Does this method compromise my computer in any way?

A: No, you download the operating system directly from Microsoft. So, no third parties or viruses are involved.

Q: Does this free Microsoft Windows 10 work 100%?

A: Yes, you can run all your apps on it.

Conclusion

Downloading and installing Windows 10 for free and without a product key should be quick and easy if you have all the necessary system requirements.

Keep in mind that, unlike older versions, it is completely legal to use Microsoft Windows 10 without a product key. That is, so long as the limitations don’t upset you.

Nnamdi Okeke

Nnamdi Okeke

Nnamdi Okeke is a computer enthusiast who loves to read a wide range of books. He has a preference for Linux over Windows/Mac and has been using
Ubuntu since its early days. You can catch him on twitter via bongotrax

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