Anyone can install Windows 10 with one of Microsoft's generic product keys. Here's what you need to know, including some limitations.
Microsoft regularly publishes free product keys for the various Windows editions. Also known as generic product keys or standard keys, it is not immediately obvious what they are for or why you should use them.
Will they give you a free copy of Windows? Are they available on every machine? And why is Microsoft making it 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 computers. Each version of Windows has its own key.
Here is a list of all of the generic Windows 10 product keys 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 training: 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 Generic Windows Product Keys Legal?
Yes, there is nothing wrong with using a generic product key to install Windows on your computer. However, this comes with some significant limitations.
In particular, a generic key does not give any usage rights. Instead, they are just meant 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 sales key.
In theory, Microsoft will never let you activate Windows with a generic key. When you try to activate Windows with a generic product key, the following message appears on the screen:
We cannot activate Windows on this device because you do not have a valid digital license or product key. If you think you have a valid license or key, see the troubleshooting below. (0x803f7001)
Even if you somehow manage to bypass Microsoft's controls (and yes, there are ways to do so), you are violating the End User License Agreement (EULA) and open to prosecution.
Why use generic product keys on Windows 10?
It may be best to think of generic product keys as you would think of a free trial of software. Yes, you get access to all functions and can put the app through its paces. However, they know that at some point you will have to spend some money to keep access.
They are ideal for people who want to build systems or run Windows in a virtual environment.
How to update 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 get a legal copy of Windows without deleting and reinstalling your operating system.
Note: Before you can follow these steps, you must first purchase a retail version of a Windows Product Key. You can buy them directly from the Microsoft Online Store. Some third-party providers may also have legitimate keys, but we cannot guarantee that they will work.
When you're ready, open the the settings App and go to Update and Security> Activation> Update your Windows Edition> Change Product Key.
A new field will appear on the screen and you will be prompted to enter the sales key you just purchased.
If your key is legal, the activation process begins. The process can take a few seconds to several hours, depending on how busy Microsoft's servers are.
8 reasons your Windows key is not working
The Windows button is one of the most useful things on your keyboard. However, what if your Windows key isn't working? Not only do you lose quick access to the Start menu, but it breaks many …
About the author
(1387 articles published)
Dan joined MakeUseOf in 2014 and has been the partnership director since July 2020. Contact him for information on sponsored content, affiliate agreements, promotions, and other forms of partnership. You can also see him walking around the exhibit space at CES in Las Vegas every year. Say hello when you leave. Prior to his writing career, he was a financial advisor.
More from Dan Price
Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up for our newsletter to receive tech tips, reviews, free e-books, and exclusive offers!
One more step …!
Please confirm your email address in the email we just sent you.