Since its release in 2015, Windows 10 has become one of the most popular operating systems in current use. While its predecessor, Windows 8.1, was widely decried and disliked, Windows 10 has been readily accepted by users, providing a variety of easy-to-use functionality that is hugely beneficial.
However, while Windows 10 has been widely adopted, there are some Windows users who may not have not yet made the shift. If you fall into this category and are hoping to upgrade to Windows 10 in the future, then there is one thing in particular you will need to complete the process: a Windows 10 product key.
What is a Windows 10 product key?
Every installed version of Windows 10 should be unique. In order to ensure this is the case, Windows provide product keys – which are essentially a license to use the product for a single computer. By purchasing a product key, you are buying the right to use the operating system on your computer.
If you’re still a touch confused, then this simple metaphor might help: think of a product key like a hotel keycard. If you have a valid keycard, you can access your hotel room and use the facilities contained therein – similarly, if you have a valid Windows 10 product key, you can access the Windows 10 software.
Product keys have been a standard feature of Microsoft’s operating systems for some years. For example, you may have had to use a Windows 8 product key or a product key for Windows 8.1 in the past; the same applied to 7, Vista, and even as far back as XP. The Windows 10 product keys perform the same function as previous versions: they confirm that the user has legitimately purchased a copy of the operating system for use on a single device.
Do I need to purchase a Windows 10 product key if upgrading from an older version of Windows?
Unfortunately, yes. When Windows 10 was first released, users could upgrade for free via the Microsoft website. However, the free update window closed in November 2017. Now, anyone who wishes to upgrade to Windows 10 from a previous version of Windows will need to purchase a Windows 10 product key in order to do so.
Are all Windows 10 product keys the same?
All of the numbered releases of Windows tend to have different versions, which offer different levels of functionality. The good news is that Windows 10 has significantly fewer versions to choose from, with just three options to choose from:
- You can use a “Home” product key for the domestic “Home” version of the OS, or…
- A “Pro” product key for the more advanced, professional version of Windows 10.
- A “Pro For Workstations” product key for the most advanced version of the software
However, for clarity, we will just note that the product keys always perform the same service: they give you the right to use the operating system on a single device. The only difference is in the level of functionality of the OS, which is reflected in the price of the keys; for example, “Home” is the most basic functionality, and therefore the cheapest; Pro For Workstations is the most advanced, and therefore the most expensive.
Can I use a Windows 10 product key to install the OS on more than one computer?
A product key or digital license entitles you to use Windows 10 on a device, which means you can reinstall it as often as you wish on a single computer. You cannot use the same product key for two different computers, even if you own and use both computers: each installation requires its own, individual key.
If you do try to use the same Windows 10 product key on two different computers, then it simply won’t work. Trying to do so is akin to spending one night in a hotel room, which you accessed via a valid keycard, but then attempting to spend a second night at the hotel without paying to do so. No hotel would let this happen, and Windows apply the same philosophy to their product keys and digital licenses.
How can I buy a Windows 10 product key?
If you are looking to upgrade an older version of Windows, you can purchase a Windows 10 product key directly from the Microsoft store. Simply select the version of Windows you wish to purchase – Home, Pro, or Pro For Workstations – make your payment, and download.
We hope the above answered all the questions you may have had about Windows 10 product keys!