Operating System

Hey everyone. I’m curious to know if I buy a non-retail windows key online just for one laptop. Will it work for life of laptop and any legit websites?

The OEM license will be linked to the mainboard. So if you replace the mainboard for example during an upgrade you may loose the license.

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Very true, thanks. It’s so expensive otherwise…might have to go Linux mint.

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There are sites that offer Windows for cheap. For example, I saw an offer for a retail windows 11 professional for $29. But I’m not sure how trustworthy or legal that is. Unless you need to run some windows software that doesn’t run on wine then Linux is a better choice anyway.

I’m not entirely sure. Microsoft seems to be very wish-washy about this kinda stuff. I have an old Windows 7 key I’ve been using for a long time now - have been upgraded to different machines through the years (desktops to laptops), and still able to activate. In fact, sometimes just logging in with my MS Account would activate the machine, then I would remove my MS Account and it’d still be activated.

Define “non-retail” though. I remember some XP or Vista/7 keys through my time at Best Buy (they had programs where you go thru training and you get hardware bundles such as motherboard/CPU and a copy of Windows). So it may have been one of those (which may be considered a retail upgrade key or an OEM key since it was bundled with hardware).

Those keys still worked with Win 8, 8.1, 10, and now 11.

I’ve also bought from those SCDKey type places when I don’t recall where I saved my keys from my Best Buy days and have successfully activated them also… I haven’t been keeping track since I rarely build many PCs these days. I may buy slightly used laptops, but since they’re OEM, they already have OEM licenses tied to them and I always find them already activated as soon as I finish installing Windows.

Hopefully this isn’t against the rules talking about this stuff. Not trying to “pirate” - all paid for stuff, but just stating my observations on my personal experiences with Windows and licensing. I’ve gotten to the point where I just want stuff to work and not so worried about tracking licensing. I used to, but I’ve got licenses from Win 3.1 to now (yeah been around a long time) and they cost a lot so I kept track of them until around the time Microsoft allowed the use of Win7 keys to work with the latest Windows. Now I have a bunch and I just a random one I have stored in a TXT file.

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Nope. Just call the number for reactivation. You can call up to reactivate it even if you are getting a license from some company online. I did that when I replaced my motherboard, CPU, and GPU a few years ago. MS doesn’t care anymore as they are trying to turn Windows into Windows as a Service.

So true! In my experience you can ask Microsoft support for another Windows activation key if you had an OEM machine and upgraded the motherboard losing your original licence.

The offer to upgrade to windows 10 for free ended on 29 July 2016. Yes you can still use the license key from the old version of windows to activate the new version, but if you do it after that date you don’t get a license. So in terms of legality it will be the same as if you download a pirated version of windows.

Thank you all. I’m trying to stick to one system really, mint looks really good and windows has so much fluff. I can choose “world” instead of US when downloading/installing which has less garbage apps/add-ons. Retail keys are what you pay for at the store $160 or so, and you can use with for life and many motherboards when upgrading. Non-retail cost is $30 but can only support one motherboard. Some sites will give you another key if you upgrade the motherboard. So I might just go with non-retail for windows and ms office since I’m familiar and compatibility with my work related programs. Could run mint on a separate ssd on FW 16. But yeah, lots of good info, thanks again.

I bought a win10 Pro retail Key for under £25 Microsoft accepted it

Very low price keys you find online are usually not legit keys.

But Microsoft just doesn’t care about this. They get their money from Manufacturers bundling Windows with new PCs and large corporations paying for huge numbers of licenses. There are free open-source activation scripts. Have been for years. Just because a key works doesn’t mean it was legit. It’s just that MS doesn’t care. Illegitimate keys sold for cheap work, and free activation scripts work.

Non-retail (OEM) keys cannot legally be sold except bundles with a system. If you find a key for less than MSRP, it is either being sold in the wrong region, against the EULA, it is an OEM key, or it was purchased with fraudulent credit card information.

We do not allow the discussion of grey-market windows keys, so I’ll be closing this thread now. If you’re looking for a free OS, I suggest one of Framework’s officially supported Linux distros.