If you’re interested in building a Windows 10 PC running Windows 10, you’d better hurry — Microsoft will stop directly selling Windows 10 licenses by the end of the month.
According to notices posted to the Windows 10 Home, Pro, and Workstation pages on Microsoft’s site, Microsoft will halt digital downloads of Windows 10 on Jan. 31, 2023. While Microsoft will support Windows 10 for a few more years, Microsoft’s decision means that you won’t be able to buy a Windows 10 license except through existing stores of licenses at third-party retailers.
“January 31, 2023 will be the last day this Windows 10 download is offered for sale. Windows 10 will remain supported with security updates that help protect your PC from viruses, spyware, and other malware until October 14, 2025,” Microsoft’s Windows 10 Home product page says. Windows 10 Pro’s product page says the same.
Mark Hachman / IDG
The elimination of the Windows 10 license means that Windows 11 will not only be the operating system that Microsoft wants you to buy, it’s also the only operating system that Microsoft will allow you you to buy. Naturally, Microsoft will encourage you to buy Windows 11 licenses instead.
The alternative for those wishing to buy a Windows 10 license will be to turn instead to third-party retailers. OEM copies of Windows 10 are still available at Amazon, although the Windows 10 product listing lacks any indication that Microsoft itself will soon stop selling Windows 10 licenses. Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool for Windows 10 also remains in place, for now.
Deal alert: The PCWorld Software Store frequently sells Windows 10 editions at reduced prices. Make sure to check our Home and Pro listings before settling for full price—at the time of publication, we were selling them for $50 and $70, respectively.
Otherwise, Microsoft’s decision means that you’ll have to buy a Windows 10 license from a third-party retailer. Fortunately, PCWorld’s guide to buying Windows for cheap still holds valid — and will become more valuable as time runs out on Windows 10.
The bottom line, though, is this is bad news if you’re a system builder or enthusiast, a fan of Windows 10 and someone who doesn’t want to upgrade to Windows 11. Soon, you’ll have even less choice about which operating system you’ll use.