Using one of Microsoft’s generic product keys, anyone can install Windows 10. Here’s what you need to know, including some limitations.
Microsoft regularly releases free product keys for the various editions of Windows. Also known as generic product keys or default keys, it is not immediately apparent what they are for or why you should use them.
Will they give you a free copy of Windows? Are the available to use on any machine? And why does Microsoft make them available for free? Let’s take a closer look.
What Are Windows 10 Generic Product Keys?
Generic product keys allow users to install any version of Windows on their machines. Each version of Windows has its own key.
Here is a list of all Windows 10 generic product keys that are available in 2020:
- Windows 10 Home: YTMG3-N6DKC-DKB77-7M9GH-8HVX7
- Windows 10 Home N: 4CPRK-NM3K3-X6XXQ-RXX86-WXCHW
- Windows 10 Home Single Language: BT79Q-G7N6G-PGBYW-4YWX6-6F4BT
- Windows 10 Pro: VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T
- Windows 10 Pro N: 2B87N-8KFHP-DKV6R-Y2C8J-PKCKT
- Windows 10 Pro for Workstations: DXG7C-N36C4-C4HTG-X4T3X-2YV77
- Windows 10 Pro N for Workstations: WYPNQ-8C467-V2W6J-TX4WX-WT2RQ
- Windows 10 Pro Education: 8PTT6-RNW4C-6V7J2-C2D3X-MHBPB
- Windows 10 Pro Education N: GJTYN-HDMQY-FRR76-HVGC7-QPF8P
- Windows 10 Education: YNMGQ-8RYV3-4PGQ3-C8XTP-7CFBY
- Windows 10 Education N: 84NGF-MHBT6-FXBX8-QWJK7-DRR8H
- Windows 10 Enterprise: XGVPP-NMH47-7TTHJ-W3FW7-8HV2C
- Windows 10 Enterprise G N: FW7NV-4T673-HF4VX-9X4MM-B4H4T
- Windows 10 Enterprise N: WGGHN-J84D6-QYCPR-T7PJ7-X766F
- Windows 10 Enterprise N LTSB 2016: RW7WN-FMT44-KRGBK-G44WK-QV7YK
- Windows 10 Enterprise S: NK96Y-D9CD8-W44CQ-R8YTK-DYJWX
- Windows 10 S: 3NF4D-GF9GY-63VKH-QRC3V-7QW8P
Are Windows Generic Product Keys Legal?
Yes, there is nothing wrong with using a generic product key to install Windows on your computer. However, doing so comes with some significant restrictions.
Most notably, a generic key gives no usage rights. Instead, they are only designed to help you install Windows. Within 30 to 90 days (depending on the key), the generic key will expire, and you will need to add a full retail key.
In theory, Microsoft will never let you activate Windows using a generic key. If you try and activate Windows using a generic product key, you will see the following message on-screen:
We can’t activate Windows on this device because you don’t have a valid digital licence or product key. If you think you do have a valid licence or key, see Troubleshoot below. (0x803f7001)
Even if you somehow manage to bypass Microsoft’s controls (and yes, there are ways of doing that), you will be in breach of the End-User License Agreement (EULA) and could be liable for prosecution.
Why Use Generic Product Keys on Windows 10?
It is perhaps best to think of generic product keys in the same way as you would think of a free trial for a piece of software. Yes, you get access to all the features and can put the app through its paces, but you know you’ll need to spend some money at some point to retain access.
They are ideal for people who are building systems or who want to run Windows in a virtual environment.
How to Upgrade a Generic Product Key
If you used a generic product key to install Windows, you can easily replace it with a full retail version and thus obtain a legal copy of Windows without needing to delete and reinstall your operating system.
Note: Before following these steps, you first need to purchase a retail version of a Windows product key. You can buy them directly from the Microsoft online store. Some third-party sellers may also have legitimate keys available, but we cannot guarantee they will work.
When you are ready, open the Settings app and go to Update and security > Activation > Upgrade your edition of Windows > Change product key.
A new box will pop up on the screen, and you will be prompted to enter the retail key that you just bought.
If your key is legal, the activation process will begin. The process could take anything from a few seconds to several hours, depending on how busy Microsoft’s servers are.
If the Windows key doesn’t work then it breaks a lot of handy shortcuts. Troubleshoot a broken Windows key with these tips and get it working again.
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