The Lowest Price for Windows 10?

Category: Windows-10

Recently, I checked up on the two methods for getting Windows 10 for free that I described in a February 2017 article. Today, 13 months later, both methods are obsolete. So the next best thing, if you want to buy Windows 10, would be how to get the best price. Read on for the answer, and my warning about some sticky situations regarding the Windows 10 license key scam…

How to Buy Windows 10 (and how NOT to)

In my article “Can You Still Get Windows 10 For Free?”, I outlined two loopholes that would enable you to get a free and legal copy of Windows 10. Unfortunately, both of those have been closed.

So if you did not upgrade to Windows 10 prior to December 31, 2017, you will need to buy a copy to upgrade now. Here is how Microsoft explains things on its “Download Windows 10” page:

“If you don't have a license to install Windows 10 and have not yet previously upgraded to it, you can purchase a copy here. If you previously upgraded to Windows 10 on this PC and you’re reinstalling it, you don’t need to enter a product key. Your copy of Windows 10 will automatically activate later using your digital license.”

What does “previously upgraded to Windows 10 on this PC” mean? Recall that during Windows 10’s launch period, and for more than a year thereafter, you could upgrade your existing Windows 7 or 8.1 installation to Windows 10 and then change your mind. You could undo Windows 10 and get your old, familiar operating system back.

Best price for Windows 10

Now, if you did such a rollback, you can still upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge, permanently. (See the instructions on Microsoft's Download Windows 10 page.) But if you do, there is no going back to Win 7 or 8.1 again. And to the best of my knowledge, there is no other legal path to a free Windows 10 upgrade.

So if it’s time to buy Windows 10, what’s the best price we can find? Of course, I turn to Google first, searching for “Windows 10 retail price.” But the results are somewhat disturbing.

The image accompanying this article is a screen capture of the Windows 10 deals that appeared at the very top of my search results. Microsoft’s Home Edition’s price is $119.99, and the Pro Edition is $199.99. Best Buy’s Home Edition is $99.99. But what about the other two?

The Windows 10 License Key Scam

Windows 10 Pro for $39.00? That’s 19.5% of Microsoft’s price! What is a Windows 10 Professional OEM Software License, and why is it only $27.99? Can you really get Win 10 Pro for 14% of Microsoft’s price?

No, of course you can’t. At least not without certain complications. Both of these insanely low prices are bait for a “honeypot” - a trap laid for the greedy and hasty shoppers who scan search results for the lowest price, grab it, and get grabbed in return. There must a lot of such shoppers, or the scammers would not be paying top dollar for top billing in Google Shopping search results.

The $39 outfit looks like it’s named “Software Max” at first, “America’s Number One Online Software Store.” Red, white, and blue all over that site gives Real Americans confidence; patriots are honest people, right? But look closely at this site’s domain name.

“” - see the “s” before the “M?” That is British spelling. This outfit is passing itself off as “born in the USA” but it is not! Its owners might be in the UK, India, the British Virgin Islands, or any country where British ex-pats hang out. (You can verify that by doing a WHOIS lookup on the domain name.) If you peruse that site carefully, you will find the telltale “s” in several other places. It’s very hard to break spelling habits you learned in elementary school and use every day except on your “made in the USA” site.

Even though you'll see a picture of a Windows 10 software box, both SoftwaresMax and the $27.99 outfit are selling Windows Product keys, those long strings of gibberish that you have to type in, often more than once, in order activate an official, legitimate license to use Windows. Big batches of keys are often provided to systems integrators who have to activate hundreds of Windows machines en masse. But those OEM keys are not supposed to find their way into the hands of individual end-users.

Yet they do. People who download pirated copies of Windows from peer-to-peer networks like Bittorrent love OEM keys and will pay - about $27.99 for one. Heck of a deal, and we just put one over on the Evil Corporation. Right?

But unauthorized use of an OEM license key violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and that’s a federal felony. There are no misdemeanors at the federal level. So before jumping on the lowest price, especially if it’s a lot lower, wonder why it’s so low and inspect the seller with a microscope. Even if you get what you pay for, you may not stop paying.

Avoid Sticky Situations

Scammers like these could just take your few dozen dollars and run, but they will probably stick to you just like honey - hence the term “honeypot.” During your Windows setup experience, something may go wrong, so of course you call the seller's toll-free number for help. Now you’re in the hands (or handset) of a smooth pro who knows exactly how to milk you for more money and personal info.

Out of curiosity, I clicked the "Shopping" link on the Google search results for "Windows 10 retail price," and then sorted by price. I found even more egregious examples of illegitimate sellers, with prices starting at US$5.95 for Windows 10 licenses. I checked out a few of them; they were all similarly sketchy, and located outside the USA. That means it's harder for US-based law enforcement to go after them.

Stay away from honeypots; it’s very hard to get that stuff off. If you want Windows 10, buy it legitimately and sleep well at night.

I am really disappointed that Google did not flag those impossibly low prices and prevent those listings from appearing in Shopping search. It is not at all hard to do. Microsoft will gladly tell Google the lowest price for which Windows 10 can be sold to end-users. Heck, with all the machine learning and artificial intelligence at their disposal, they shouldn't even have to ask Microsoft.

Are you ready to move on to Windows 10? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "The Lowest Price for Windows 10?"

(See all 27 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

14 Mar 2018

Coldest City is correct. I replaced a work station that had W10 on it. I used the hard drive from the old one and it would not work. Had to call Microsoft and reinstall W10 and a new license.

Posted by:

14 Mar 2018

When looking for Windows OS (Operating System) products. . .The best thing you can do for yourself is to go to reputable places to purchase the product!

There are many online reputable places where you will not be scammed. I am talking about Newegg, Tiger Direct, Fry's, Best Buy, Office Depot/Office Max, Staples, Walmart or Sam's Club and so on.

Compare prices at several places and I mean reputable places. This will give you a good idea of what to expect when you want to purchase a new Windows OS. Remember, Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 are still being sold. Sometimes, you do need to have the earlier OS to function for your computing needs.

In checking several good, solid places, it looks like Windows 10 Pro 64-bit is being sold for $139.00 to $149.00 and higher. I haven't checked all of my computer places, just a couple of them, okay? But, this is what you do. . .You check out all sources, so that you can get the best deal.

Remember. . .If, it sounds to good to be true. . .It isn't. . .And probably a scam, big time!!!

Posted by:

Joe M
14 Mar 2018

You are misusing the term honeypot. You also seem to have a vendetta against one specific scammer. There are 100's of them out there.

Here's your article. "Windows costs a lot more than $20. If you think you've found the secret deal of the century, remember, if it sounds too good to be true..."

There. No hype, no singling out one scammer. No BS.

EDITOR'S NOTE: No vendetta. I was using them as an example because they are one of the top search results for the term. And what's wrong with drawing attention to a scammer?

Posted by:

Charles James
14 Mar 2018

Bob, I give free computer training to local seniors through a foundation grant. For several years now I have pushed them to download Windows 10 and helped them upgrade their PCs while it was still free. Unfortunately, many seniors never have upgraded, but rather chose to keep their old operating system in place on advice from (I believe) misinformed relatives or friends. Considering that Microsoft created the backlash towards Windows 10 with its introduction of Windows 8/8.1.
I would like to see MS consider special discount pricing for those with W7 and W8/8.1, especially seniors, who are often on a limited income. Using the Internet is beneficial for aging parents and grandparents, keeping them from becoming isolated or mitigating the harm suffered by those homebound due to illness or mobility issues. I hope this is something that you can encourage Microsoft to consider.

Posted by:

14 Mar 2018

I can't believe how many people are ignorant of the following: if you have a Windows 7 computer, download from Microsoft the Win 10 OS and, when activating, insert the Windows 7 product key. You now have Win 10 activated with a digital license. If you have a Win 8 computer, you probably don't have the product key, so install the Win 10 OS as before. Go to the Activation tab in Settings and run the activation troubleshooter. Again, you now have a digital license.

Posted by:

14 Mar 2018

Windows is not the only operating system out there. Many (most) Linux distributions are free for everyone all the time. Linus is generally more stable than Windows and most software is also free.

Want a simple OS? Try Chromium OS. It's also free, will run most newer computers and on many older computers breathing new life into older, slower machines, it boots much faster, and is relatively immune to viruses (just reload Chromium and all malware is gone). (Chromium has the same code base as the OS used in Chromebook computers.)

Posted by:

14 Mar 2018

Hi Bob,do you recommend Windows 10? I tried it when it was free but I really didn't find it easy to operate it.Has it changed or should I give it another chance?

Posted by:

14 Mar 2018

Hi Bob,do you recommend Windows 10? I tried it when it was free but I really didn't find it easy to operate it.Has it changed or should I give it another chance?

Posted by:

14 Mar 2018

OK, my W7 machine died about 9 months ago and I was forced to become a W10 user. I hate W10! So how can I go back to a sane life and use W7?

Posted by:

Art F
14 Mar 2018

Glen, have you tried Classic Shell under Windows 10? It gives you an interface very similar to Windows 8, so that you never see the new screen with all the smartphone-style apps unless you deliberately want to. I found the transition from Windows 8 very easy after installing Classic Shell, which Bob has occasionally recommended in the past.

Posted by:

14 Mar 2018

I may be mistaken but if a user had Win7/Win8 installed that was the 32bit version; Microsoft will only allow "like-for-like" upgrade path and stepping up to Win10-64bit for free is not allowed. I felt like I got scammed by Microsoft with my Win8Pro as it was the 32bit variant.
I scammed them back by purchasing an MSDN license (Win10Pro-64bit) on the web for under $50.
Microsoft did another scam against Win10Pro owners, by introducing Win10Pro for Workstations, which they charge around $120 for the upgrade. I am seriously thinking of scamming them back again!

Posted by:

14 Mar 2018

Or just install a Linux for free. I've tried quite a few distributions, and I always come back to Linux Mint MATE. Unless you're a gamer, you won't miss Windows.

Posted by:

john silberman
14 Mar 2018

Why would anyone pay for WIN10? There are so many OSs out there that are far more stable, fully supported and free. My OS of choice is Ubuntu-Mate. Eventually people will figure it out and ditch MS Windows.

Posted by:

15 Mar 2018

Windows OEM used to be available legitimately for system builders. I bought Windows 7 that way and installed it on my home built machine. It was perfectly legal, however the price was not nearly that low. It was more along the lines of half the price of the commercial version. I believe that Microsoft has stopped selling OEM versions.

As for buying another computer and transferring the license, that is not possible. The version that comes on a computer is an OEM version (OEM means original equipment manufacturer). It cannot be transferred to any other machine. OEM software is licensed to the specific machine, not the user. Commercial, full price software can be transferred to another machine (subject to limitations), and that is the reason that people have bought it in the past even when making their own computers.

Posted by:

Bob Deloyd
15 Mar 2018

My HP G72 laptop has an Intel 4500HD video which does not have a Windows 10 driver I found out. Now I know why Win 10 kept hanging on updating... I tried to reinstall Win7, but says it isn't genuine; which it is!
I have found this mess, everyone's calling Windows 10, is a complete failure for me and many others. After a lot of effort and time spent on the G72 I finally installed Linux Mint and it runs just fine and I don't have to "babysit" my computer when doing an update. I have a few other machines running Win 10, but I kinda switched over to OSX, Mint, and Chrome without all the hassle and hoops Microsoft forces you to navigate.

Posted by:

Edvins Briedums
15 Mar 2018

Good one Bob,
any facts on Microsoft Office 2016 Pro Plus from the web?
Look forward to your advise.
Kind regards

Posted by:

15 Mar 2018

'Softwares' is definitely not a part of my British version of the language. In British English, 'software' is uncountable, just like news, trash, luggage, etc., and hence can't - or shouldn't - be used in the plural (or with the indefinite article). The clue you showed us doesn't point to Brits!

Posted by:

15 Mar 2018

Hear, hear Dicky Boy. Quite right, thank you Richard.

Hear, hear is an expression used as a short, repeated form of hear him. It represents a listener's agreement with the point being made by a speaker. Thank you also to Wikipedia for the clarification/definition.

Posted by:

15 Mar 2018

I agree with others who installed Linux. Linux at least the debian varieties (ubuntu, mint) has become more user friendly. No need to type commands in a terminal like the earlier releases. Search for wanted software in an installer and apply. BOOM! Installed! Just as easy to uninstall. Use update manager and your updates are done quickly. Minutes. Unlike Windows updates. And Linux is faster. To boot, shutdown. Netflix playing in Linux Firefox is sharper, i believe.
2 older laptops here. Windows 7 Pro on both. This one dual booted with Linux Mint. The hardest thing to do is to learn PARTITIONING. For dual booting. If you get that down, installing is smooth. When Mint 17 came out, I installed it. Very nice operating system. Last week i installed Mint 18. It's different. An improvement over 18? I can't decide yet. 17 is supported with updates until 2019 end. 18 until 2021 end.
Windows 10 Pro would not install on any of the 2 legal laptops here. It also would not install on another i had with a retail Windows 7 home that i installed. So- Phooey to Windows 10. Although i like my Windows 10 phone MS is abandoning them.
Just my 2 cents.

Posted by:

Clarence Zacharias
04 Nov 2019

you have ads on this newsletter page for Windows 10 for $47.24. Is this legit??

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