I had some time at hand recently to run a couple of tests regarding the purchase of Windows licenses on eBay, and upgrades of said licenses to Windows 10.
As you may know, Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 licenses are sold on eBay for next to nothing. There is lots of talk about these licenses, how they are not legitimate, that they will not work, or that they will expire after a short period of time.
The licenses that I bought in September 2016 are still working fine. Granted, that is not a very long time to go by, and I will keep an eye on those licenses to see how things will evolve in the future.
I had some spare time at hand and decided to buy another batch of licenses on eBay. I got my hands on a Windows 7 Professional license for €3.90 (that's about $4.00). The going rate for keys seems to have dropped from $10-15, and that is not only the case for Windows 7.
A Windows 8.1 Pro license starts at about €5.90 currently on the German eBay store, and even Windows 10 Pro keys are available for €4.58 currently.
I bought a couple of licenses as I did the last time. The sellers use eBay's mailing system to mail you the product key and instructions on how to download the particular version of Windows usually minutes after the purchase.
All licenses were accepted in test installations, and the products were listed as fully activated. I did not have to go through the phone activation process either.
One thing that I wanted to try was to find out whether I could install Windows 10 on a brand new machine using a Windows 7 key.
These upgrades were free during the one-year free period, and worked even after the official free upgrade period ended.
What I wanted to know was whether this was still the case.
I downloaded the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft, and used it to create installation media on a USB device.
Connected the USB device to the machine afterwards, made sure it would boot from it, and watched it start the installation.
When asked for the product key, I entered the Windows 7 Pro key bought from eBay. This key was accepted just fine during installation. The installation of Windows 10 proceeded fine from that point on.
I did check the activation status afterwards using Windows-I > Update & Security > Activation, and it showed as activated using a digital license.
This suggests strongly that it is still possible to upgrade to Windows 10 for free using Windows 7 or 8.1 product keys.
Now, I cannot say for how long this system will remain activated. I did some research on the seller before I bought the product key on eBay. The company behind it had more than 24000 reviews, with 99.9% of them positive.
It is legitimate in Germany to sell OEM product keys without hardware, and to use these keys on any device the operating system can be installed on.
The main takeaway from the experiment is that you can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free using nothing but a Windows 7 or -- presumably as I have not tested it -- Windows 8.1 product key.
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