Windows 10 is a great operating system for almost any PC – whether it is a gaming, professional, or home machine.
The good performance and wide range of supported hardware and software comes at a price, however, and the top-of-the-range version – Windows 10 Pro – is priced at over R3,000 for a retail version.
The term “retail” version is important here, and means more than it being available from a store shelf.
Windows 10 is available in multiple versions, with the “retail” version the most flexible – and the most expensive.
A retail version, often called the “boxed product” or “Full Packaged Product” will see you receive full support from Microsoft if you contact them with any Windows 10 issues.
If you use a Windows 10 retail key to install and activate Windows on a PC, you are also able to transfer the key to a new PC should you format and discard your old machine – or if it stops working.
When you buy a new pre-built PC or laptop in South Africa, however, Windows 10 is often included with the PC – removing the need for you to pay for a licence key.
If you are building your own PC, though, you will have to pay for Windows 10 separately.
In this scenario, users have two options: a Windows 10 retail key, as described above, or a Windows 10 OEM key.
The OEM key, also called a DSP key, is an “original equipment manufacturer” key – and can be used by those building their own PC.
This cheaper price brings with it limitations, however.
If you use an OEM key for your PC you will not receive full support from Microsoft if you have a problem. Online reports have gone so far as to say you will receive zero support, as you are deemed an equipment manufacturer – not an individual user.
The other big drawback is that when you install Windows 10 using an OEM key, the key is linked to your PC’s motherboard.
This will be a problem if you want or change your motherboard, or if your motherboard breaks. It is also an issue if you want to upgrade your CPU, and your motherboard does not support the new CPU.
Windows 10 Pro for R400
This price-versus-flexibility issue for Windows 10 is one many PC builders have faced, and was the basis of a video by popular YouTube channel Paul’s Hardware.
In the video, the channel looks at a site called Kinguin.net, which sells Windows 10 Pro OEM keys at heavily-discounted rates.
At the time if writing, a Windows 10 Pro OEM key was €25 – which is R400.
Paul’s Hardware claims that the keys are legitimate, and the site offers a buyer protection option in case the key you purchase does not work.
This makes purchasing and using a Windows 10 OEM key an attractive option, due to its low price.
The question this presents, though, is whether these “R400” keys are legitimate, and does Microsoft support individual users purchasing OEM keys.
To find out, MyBroadband spoke to Microsoft South Africa about the matter.
Microsoft told MyBroadband that users can purchase and use a Windows 10 key through the following channels:
- When a customer purchases their motherboard and components, you can purchase an OEM version of Windows from an authorised hardware supplier. It must be at the time of component purchase.
- Customers who decide to install Windows following their component purchase have the sole option to purchase a Full Packaged Product.
“Consumers should be aware that online sites which sell OEM keys as a standalone product are generally fraudulent,” said Microsoft.
Purchasing OEM licences after you purchase your hardware is not allowed and the user will be viewed as non-compliant, added Microsoft.
“A further drawback is that the OEM key for your version of Windows will live and die with the current hardware it sits on. It will not be transferable to another PC.”
Microsoft said that websites selling OEM versions of Windows may expose a user or their company to counterfeit or mis-licensed versions of Windows.
“This could put your company or yourself personally at legal risk.”