You probably forgot to get a Windows 10 key if you just finished building a new gaming PC and are reading this. It’s completely understandable. We’ve all done it: gotten so wrapped up in choosing the right graphics card (chance would be a good thing), CPU, and SSD that we forget about the operating system. You don’t need a Windows 10 key to use your computer, though.
Linux is a fantastic and open-source operating system (OS) that you could use instead to run your gaming PC—and switching a gaming PC to Linux is actually quite simple. It’s about to get a lot better, too, with Valve’s Steam Deck running on Linux.
The disadvantages of this option are that the OS can be difficult for new users to grasp, and you may find that some of the games you want to play on your machine aren’t natively compatible with Linux. However, if you do manage to master this operating system, it can be gratifying.
Do I need a Windows 10 key?
Without a license key, you can install Windows 10 for free. Because the OS itself has a longer grace period, you only need to buy that part of Microsoft’s OS. However, without a genuine key, functionality is limited. Simply go to Microsoft’s official Windows download site, download the tool, and create a USB drive to boot your new build and begin the installation process.
The words ‘Activate Windows’ scrawled in the bottom right corner of the screen, on the other hand, might prompt you to upgrade. The transparency of the watermark allows it to blend in with the rest of what’s on your screen most of the time, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you get used to it. However, if you need to take a screenshot or something similar, you can temporarily disable this.
Can I remove the ‘Activate Windows’ watermark from Windows 10?
To remove the Activate Windows watermark from Windows 10, follow these steps:
- Hit the Windows key and type in the words: Command Prompt
- Right-click on Command Prompt and run as administrator
- In the terminal window, type in slmgr -rearm
It will then ask you to reboot, and the watermark will be removed for the time being. It’s a holdover from earlier versions of Windows. It does, however, allow you to remove the watermark for that session, allowing you to screenshot or stream a game without it being strewn across your screen. Keep in mind that this isn’t a genuine license key; it simply extends the grace period that comes with Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system.
If none of the above appeals to you, or if you’d prefer to be done with Windows 10 once and for all, you can purchase a Windows 10 license key. The cost varies depending on whether you buy one directly from Microsoft or through a third party.
How much does Windows 10 cost?
If you buy a key directly from Microsoft, Windows 10 Home will set you back $139. When compared to third-party sellers, who frequently ship genuine keys for as little as $25, this is a little on the high side.
Many of the top third-party sites, in our experience, are reliable and will quickly deliver a key for activation, but be wary of shady sites or links.
Once you’ve obtained your key, go to Windows Settings and enter it by clicking on the annoying little banner.