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Up to date November 25, 2015: Some of the in style posts I’ve ever revealed at ZDNet was this one, initially titled Seven completely authorized methods to get Home windows 7 low-cost (and even free). I wrote it in late 2009, and posted a follow-up one yr later If you happen to had adopted my recommendation, you could possibly have saved tons of of {dollars} on upgrades and particular offers for college students and IT professionals.

Six years later, Home windows 7 is within the rear-view mirror. A lot of the offers listed in these unique posts are now not accessible. However it’s certainly nonetheless potential to seek out nice offers on PCs operating Home windows 7, if you realize the place to look. It is also potential to tweak and tune newer Home windows variations in order that they’re functionally equal to Home windows 7.

In that spirit, I’ve fully reworked this put up with info that displays the present PC market. [Last updated November 25, 2015]

Home windows 7 is formally middle-aged. It was publicly launched greater than six years in the past, on October 22, 2009. With every passing day it’s getting additional and farther from the midpoint of Microsoft’s 10-year help lifecycle for Home windows releases.

In January 2015, Microsoft ended mainstream help for Home windows 7, and the five-year prolonged help section started. In January 2020, the Home windows 7 help lifecycle will formally finish.


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However 4 years is a protracted, very long time, and if you happen to favor the acquainted setting of Home windows 7 over its successors, you continue to have a lot of choices accessible.

If you happen to navigate your method via the complicated maze of Home windows licensing guidelines, you may discover that the most effective offers go to PC producers, which suggests you may discover the most effective new and refurbished PCs with Home windows 7 preinstalled and able to run.

If you happen to simply want the software program, you’ll be able to nonetheless purchase Home windows 7 software program in shrink-wrapped retail and OEM packages, typically at costs which are actually too good to be true. If you happen to’re an IT professional or developer who wants Home windows 7 for testing, you even have subscription choices, though they’re much less of a deal than they had been six years in the past. For college kids, the most effective choices include newer variations of Home windows.

A lot of the particulars I embody on this put up apply to Home windows clients in america, however it is best to be capable to discover comparable gives in different international locations.

My purpose on this put up is to level you to offers that clients legitimately qualify for. I’m not attempting to encourage makes an attempt by anybody to get away with one thing you are not entitled to. If there are restrictions for a particular provide, I’ve famous them right here.

Able to get began? Choose a class and go…

Previous software program on new PCs

By far the easiest way to purchase Home windows 7 right now, six years into its lifecycle, is to buy it preinstalled on a brand new PC. You get a guaranty and, extra importantly, you get the OEM’s assurance that the {hardware} and software program had been designed to work collectively. This feature additionally spares you from the ache of Home windows setup, particularly the hassles of looking down important drivers and system-specific updates once you improve (or downgrade) a PC.

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New brand-name PCs with Home windows 7 preinstalled

Sure, big-name PC makers can nonetheless set up Home windows 7 on new PCs. There is a catch, although:
As of October 31, 2014

, any new PCs they provide should embody the costlier Home windows 7 Skilled. Machines that had been manufactured earlier than that date with Home windows 7 House Premium can nonetheless be offered.

Usually, the gross sales lifecycle for PCs with Home windows 7 preinstalled would have ended way back, however Microsoft prolonged that deadline in February 2014. PC producers will now not be capable to promote new PCs with Home windows 7 Professional as of October 31, 2016, (For particulars, see “What the Windows 7 Pro sales lifecycle changes mean to consumers and business buyers.”)

The trick in searching for these machines is to skip the entrance door and go straight for the enterprise part. Amongst on-line retailers, for instance, Dell gives filters to indicate all accessible desktops and all-in-ones and laptops operating Home windows 7. HP has separate pages for enterprise desktops and laptops, however you need to have a look at every mannequin to seek out the fashions with Home windows 7 accessible.

Massive on-line retailers that serve enterprise markets ought to have comparable alternatives overlaying a variety of manufacturers and the total spectrum of costs.

Used and refurbished PCs with Home windows 7 preinstalled

There are many websites the place you’ll find “factory reconditioned” PCs on the market at legitimately low costs. Amazon-owned Woot, for instance, all the time has a lot of selections in its Computer systems part, though you may must dig into the specs to substantiate that the working system you are searching for is included.

Different on-line sellers with equally intensive alternatives embody the next:

  • Tiger Direct gives “off lease” Home windows 7 PCs for as little as $100.
  • Newegg has an unlimited number of refurbished PCs as properly. Many are too outdated to suggest apart from diehard cut price hunters, but when you realize what you are searching for you’ll find completely good {hardware} that prices lower than you’d pay for a retail copy of the Home windows 7 model it consists of.
  • Staples has the same choice in its on-line retailer.

I do not suggest taking an opportunity with random sellers on eBay or Craigslist–not when there are such a lot of well-established retailers that provide correct warranties and return insurance policies, in addition to an assurance that the underlying Home windows license is respectable.

OEM Home windows software program for brand new or refurbished PCs

Underneath Microsoft’s arcane licensing guidelines, you’ll be able to legitimately buy OEM copies of Home windows 7 (any version). Nevertheless, the license settlement with these copies explicitly prohibits you from utilizing that software program on a PC you construct or refurbish in your personal private use. Loopy, huh?


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You’ll find OEM System Builder software program from dozens of on-line retailers. The present worth for OEM Home windows 7 Skilled at Newegg, for instance, is $140. After I checked a couple of minutes in the past, Amazon was providing OEM Home windows 7 Skilled packages from a number of sellers at costs starting from $101 to $150. After I checked simply now, a bundle particularly meant for refurbished PCs value solely $50 for a 64-bit copy.

There aren’t any technical limitations to forestall you from utilizing OEM software program by yourself PC, though this software program will work just for a clear set up and never for an improve. Previously, Microsoft has been remarkably inconsistent in its recommendation to clients about whether or not this observe is allowed. (See “Is it OK to use OEM Windows on your own PC? Don’t ask Microsoft.”)

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To make the topic much more complicated, Microsoft briefly modified its licensing guidelines with Home windows 8,
including a Private Use Rights clause

that allowed people to purchase OEM Home windows and set up it on private PCs. That change lasted precisely one yr: with the launch of Home windows 8.1, Microsoft restored the outdated licensing phrases.

The underside line? Sure, you’ll be able to set up an OEM copy of Home windows 7 on a PC in your personal private use; I like to recommend that you just keep away from doing so for your small business, nevertheless, particularly when you have a licensing settlement with Microsoft.

Improve (and downgrade) choices

A lot of the available choices for brand new PCs embody the most recent model of Home windows–that’s Home windows 10 right now (with many Home windows 8.1 PCs nonetheless on retail and on-line cabinets).

If you happen to love a specific piece of {hardware} and your most well-liked model of Home windows 7 is not accessible on the build-to-order choices record, do not despair. You’ve got 4 selections accessible.

Train your downgrade rights (free)

If you buy a brand new PC with a enterprise model of Home windows 8, Home windows 8.1, or Home windows 10 already put in by the producer, the license settlement provides you the suitable to downgrade to Home windows 7 Skilled. So in case your PC initially got here with Home windows 8/8.1/10 Professional, you’ll be able to substitute the put in working system with Home windows 7 Skilled for gratis.

Word that downgrade rights should not included on techniques that ship with the core model of Home windows 8, 8.1, or 10. Likewise, OEM System Builder copies of Home windows 8.x and later don’t embody downgrade rights.

To train downgrade rights, you should utilize media for Home windows 7 Skilled that you just purchase from any supply. Throughout set up, do not enter a product key. After finishing set up, you may must activate your newly put in copy of Home windows 7 through the use of the phone activation choice and explaining that you’re utilizing downgrade rights.

Switch a license (no value)

Did you buy a retail copy of Home windows 7 any time up to now six years? Any full or improve license bought via the retail channel or immediately from Microsoft can legally be transferred to a different PC. That features any of the deeply discounted improve gives that Microsoft made accessible when Home windows 7 was new, together with the three-license Household Packs of Home windows 7 House Premium.

When you’ve got the unique Home windows 7 set up media and product key and have eliminated the working system from the PC on which it was initially put in, you’ll be able to reuse that key on any PC. You is likely to be required to activate over the telephone; when requested, make sure you specify (honestly) that your copy of Home windows 7 is put in on just one PC.

Word that OEM copies of Home windows 7 that had been put in on PCs by the producer are locked to that machine and can’t be transferred.

Purchase an improve license

If the PC on which you need to set up Home windows 7 initially included a license for any model of Home windows, you should buy a Home windows 7 improve license from any vendor that has the software program in inventory and set up that improve in your PC. You need not reinstall the outdated working system; if you wish to carry out a clear set up utilizing improve media, you should utilize the workaround I describe in this put up: Boot from the improve media and do an set up with out getting into a product key. Then use the identical media to “upgrade” your brand-new set up.

Word that when you have a PC with Home windows 7 House Premium put in, you should utilize the Anytime Improve choice to improve it to Home windows 7 Skilled for $90. Observe the directions in this put up.

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Purchase a full retail license

The most costly choice is to buy a full retail license for Home windows 7. It is assured to work with any PC, with no set up or licensing problems. The issue is discovering this software program, which Microsoft stopped promoting years in the past. Most on-line retailers right now provide solely OEM copies of Home windows 7.

Subscriptions for Home windows and extra

All of the choices I described earlier apply to PCs you propose to make use of within the residence or workplace. However if you happen to’re a developer, an IT professional, or a pupil, you might need a totally completely different set of wants, together with a want to have a number of PCs operating Home windows 7 for testing functions.

Microsoft ended the TechNet subscription service

in 2013. However there are nonetheless helpful choices accessible to anybody who wants Home windows 7 in a lab or digital machine. Home windows 7 analysis variations are additionally now not accessible.

Microsoft Developer Community (MSDN)


MSDN subscriptions are specifically intended for professional software developers. An annual subscription gives you access to a wide range of professional developer tools and pre-release products.

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Each MSDN subscription consists of entry to the most recent model of Home windows with a number of activations. You may select from completely different ranges of MSDN subscriptions. The most affordable is the MSDN Working Methods subscription, which prices $699 for the primary yr and $499 for renewals. It gives full entry to each consumer and server model of Home windows (going way back to Home windows 3.1).

Costs go up for different editions, with completely different MSDN subscription ranges together with entry to different Microsoft software program, toolkits, and SDKs in addition to credit score for Microsoft Azure. For a full record of accessible packages, see this chart.

The MSDN license settlement is detailed and value studying in full. There’s a superb abstract of your rights as a subscriber right here. This paragraph is very noteworthy:

Many MSDN subscribers use a pc for combined use–both design, improvement, testing, and demonstration of your applications (the use allowed below the MSDN Subscription license) and another use. Utilizing the software program in another method, similar to for doing e-mail, enjoying video games, or enhancing a doc is one other use and isn’t lined by the MSDN Subscription license. When this occurs, the underlying working system should even be licensed usually by buying an everyday copy of Home windows such because the one which got here with a brand new OEM PC.

If you happen to’re knowledgeable developer or designer who makes use of Microsoft merchandise, MSDN subscriptions generally is a cut price. If you happen to simply need low-cost entry to Home windows 7, you may have higher choices.

Microsoft DreamSpark (free)

In case you are enrolled in a science, expertise, engineering, or math division at an academic establishment that subscribes to Microsoft DreamSpark Premium, you may get free software program to be used in your research.

(The DreamSpark Normal program is accessible to people for $99 a yr or $199 for 3 years. It consists of server software program and improvement instruments however doesn’t embody Home windows consumer software program.)

To test your eligibility via these applications, register right here utilizing a school-issued e-mail handle or a code equipped by an instructional establishment.

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