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How to get Windows 10 cheap (or even for free)

Windows 10 licenses are expensive—almost painfully so. Shelling out $139 for Windows 10 Home or $200 for Windows 10 Pro feels rough when Linux is free and Windows 7 still hasn’t been completely put down. That amount of cash can easily be a third of a budget PC build.

But with less developer support for Linux and the end-of-life deadline rapidly approaching for Windows 7, Windows 10 is an inescapable necessity for most of us. What’s not a given is paying full retail.

Yes, it’s possible to snag a discount on Windows 10. The amount you’ll save depends on how much hassle you can tolerate—as well as your circumstances. If you’re lucky, you could technically get Windows 10 for free. (Legitimately for free, because installing Windows 10 without ever activating it doesn’t quite count as getting a full, sanctioned copy of Windows.)

PACKRAT’S LOOPHOLE: TRY A WINDOWS 7 OR 8 KEY

Price: Free

If you have an old Windows 7 or Windows 8 PC lying around, you may still be able to reuse its key to activate Windows 10..

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