Can You Get Windows 10 Pro for < $10?

Most every laptop you can purchase with the Windows operating system has the Home Edition installed. Many PC builders now are supplying Windows 10 S Mode on their low-end devices. Recently I decided to encrypt my laptop hard drive in case it was lost or stolen. Windows 10 Professional edition contains BitLocker, which makes it a reasonable choice for this task. Of course there are other reasons to upgrade to the Pro version, but my concern was disk encryption.

Note: A comparison of the Windows 10 editions can be found here.

My current laptop had the Home Edition installed. My choices for data encryption were either update to the Pro edition or find a simple to use, compatible, and effective 3rd party software solution. It is easy to find disk encryption software by doing a simple web search. So I will not go into any comparisons, but you can look over an extensive Wikipedia listing here. I decided that BitLocker was the answer because it was developed by Microsoft and included with the OS software. However, I still did not want to pay $60 and up (mostly up) for the upgrade.

When I build a Windows PC I always install the Pro version. Why not? The OEM versions of the Windows are not that much different in price, and, for a few pennies more you get built-in disk encryption. In the case of my laptop, it already had Windows 10, and I did not want to pay a lot for the upgrade. I also wanted to create a few Windows 10 VirtualBox virtual machines on which to test software; including the Windows Developer Previews.

Searching on eBay will bring up many different ways to license Windows 10. Some sellers offer OEM disk sets while others simply sell you a key. Prices range from $40 to the lowest I found $2.99 (a key delivered by email.) I have even seen “Free” license keys offered such as this YouTube video pushing free keys…I don’t expect this link to be good for long. There are even some legitimate-looking websites that offer Windows 10 Pro $19.

With all of these low-cost licensing options, why pay $199? It seems to me that Microsoft does not care anymore about controlling the license cost for its Windows 10 operating system products. Nor does it seem to be a significant (or at least valued) source of revenue for the company. Microsoft has a different business model and Windows licenses apparently don’t add up to much. I personally believe that there is so much money in the Windows-based Business Software Solutions and cloud-based applications that Microsoft simply wants its OS to dominate. This ensures their investment and fees are golden.

While web or cloud-based computing does not necessarily require a specific operating system there is still a fortune in licensing desktop versions of Office 365.