HeiDoc.net: The Technology Treasure Chest

Disk images of Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 have never been available for public download on Digital River. In this article we have a look at the alternative download sources that Microsoft provides for these operating systems, and some other options to get hold of a legitimate OS copy.


Windows 10 Downloads from Microsoft Tech Bench

Tech Bench is a new website from which you can download Windows 10 media in many languages without requiring a product key. This is the easiest and most straightforward way to get hold of a Windows 10 disk image.

The Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Media Creation Tools

Using the Media Creation Tools is not as comfortable as the direct download from Tech Bench, since these tools download individual source files, and then build the disk image on your local computer. The only advantage is availability of the download tool for Windows 8.x as well.

The Media Creation Tool will let you choose the bit edition and language version you require. It will give you the full choice on versions that are available from Microsoft. The previous restriction that only allowed download of the same language and bit edition as the current system no longer exists.

Both Microsoft tools create iso images that considerably differ from the full version DVDs. They can only install the same Windows edition for which they have been downloaded.

Windows 8.x and Windows 10 Test Drive

If you don't want to spend any money now, but still have a look at the final release of Windows 10, you can download a 90 days evaluation version of Windows 10 Enterprise. The previous releases Windows 8.x are also available for evaluation.

After the 90 days are over, these versions can't be converted to a full product by entering a purchased product key.

Install now, Activate later

In previous versions, it was possible to install Windows without key, run it as trial for up to 120 days, and enter a product key later. This option on first sight seems to have been removed as of Windows 8.

However, it's still possible to pre-install Windows 8.x or Windows 10 with a generic key. These keys can only install Windows. It's not possible to activate it unless you enter an original key purchased from Microsoft. Here they come...

XKY4K-2NRWR-8F6P2-448RF-CRYQH (Windows 8 Professional)
RR3BN-3YY9P-9D7FC-7J4YF-QGJXW (Windows 8 Professional with Media Center)
FB4WR-32NVD-4RW79-XQFWH-CYQG3 (Windows 8 [Home])
XHQ8N-C3MCJ-RQXB6-WCHYG-C9WKB (Windows 8.1 Professional)
GBFNG-2X3TC-8R27F-RMKYB-JK7QT (Windows 8.1 Professional with Media Center)
334NH-RXG76-64THK-C7CKG-D3VPT (Windows 8.1 [Home])
VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T (Windows 10 Professional)
YTMG3-N6DKC-DKB77-7M9GH-8HVX7 (Windows 10 Home - multi language)
BT79Q-G7N6G-PGBYW-4YWX6-6F4BT (Windows 10 Home - single language)

If you can get hold of the installation disk, you can use these keys to install now, and purchase an activation key after 30 days. Rearming the trial period is no longer possible as of Windows 8, therefore, after the initial 30 days' trial period the installation becomes useless until you enter a valid product key.

Windows 8 left-over lot on Amazon

Windows 8

If you prefer to hold a physical disk of Windows 8 in your hands, you can get one from the leftover stock of the initial upgrade offer at Amazon. This version can be upgraded to both Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 free of charge. In fact, this option is much cheaper than purchasing a full version. Microsoft stopped distribution of the initial offer on 31 January 2013, but Amazon still seems to have some stock remaining.

Of course it is also possible to purchase a brand new version of Windows 10 from Amazon as well.