How to legally download Windows 8 for free

Alright, so the first words of this article title may appear to belie the latter half.

Vonnie, you’re telling me I can download Windows 8 for free, and it’s 100% legal?

Yes that’s because you can’t use the software to its potential with a valid product key.  Without a valid product key there’s no catalyst to even start the installation process.

After you finish installing Windows 8, you’ll need an internet connection to activate it; however, you can still create a local account and constantly ignore the Activation Reminder alerts that Microsoft will besiege you with.

Of course without activation you can’t install updates, personalize the computer or use a Microsoft Account.

I’ve already shown you how to download legal copies of Windows 7 for free and now I’m going to show you how to legally download Windows 8 without paying a dime.

Ah, but there’s a major caveat!

My unspoken premise is that you actually own a valid product key.  You can find the product key in the confirmation email that Microsoft sent you when the program was purchased. Or if you have the physical DVD, you’ll see it on the package represented as a 25 character string.

Now with the product key in hand you have two options:

You can either:

  • Go to Microsoft’s website and download the Windows Setup utility or
  • Enter your product information into the Windows Order Summary form.

Let’s explore each:

1. Using the Windows Setup Utility

Visit Microsoft’s website and download the Window 8 setup utility.

Windows 8 Setup Utility

The setup Wizard will emerge on your screen and beg you to enter the product key.  Feed it what it wants and choose Next.

Windows 8 Product Key

Windows will dilly-dally for a moment and before spitting up the Windows edition copy you’re licensed for.

Just click Next to start the download

Download Windows 8

Let the download do its thing…

Download Windows 8 for free

And then let the check complete… mine took about 5 minutes to finish.

Windows 8 File Check

And then let Windows get the files ready… that’s another 10 minutes.  After my installer reached 68% it moved to the next screen which allowed me to either install Windows 8 now or later.

On a side note, what exactly is Windows doing when it says “Getting the files ready?” If you know, please share in the comments.

Okay back to business…

Install Windows 8 by creating media

If you pick Install by creating media you can easily either create an ISO which you can burn to a DVD or if you have a USB drive with at least 3 GB of storage available try out the install the OS to a USB flash drive option.

Install Windows 8 to a USB flash drive

2. Using the Order Form

The other option is to use the Microsoft Windows Order Summary form.

Windows 8 Order Summary Page

I haven’t actually used this second method though so I can’t vouch for it.  But allegedly you enter your order number and you’ll se a link to download Windows 8 near the bottom of the Product Information page.

Hope this helps!

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Posted in How To, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Tagged with: