Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
It’s the next big operating system and everyone can’t wait to get a piece. Microsoft recently unveiled the all-new Windows 10, and allowed enthusiasts to download an early Technical Preview version of the new OS.
But it is not without a few bugs, which is par for the course for an early build. The only problem is that mischievous elements are trying to exploit these bugs by tricking you into downloading harmful files on your system.
If you see a link, a video, or anything else that is asking you to activate Windows 10, don’t click on it. Security firm MalwareBytes says most of these links and purported activators are malicious.
Beware Of Geeks Bearing Gifts
Did you find a “helpful” blog post or YouTube video telling you how to activate Windows 10? Don’t click it. Run. Run like the wind.
“The videos show a nice looking activation tool complete with some buttons to press (everybody likes button pressing) and the promise of technical preview operating system unlocks galore,” says MalwareBytes. “Downloading the files and running them, however, lead us to PUP (Potentially Unwanted Program) offerings (VirusTotal 24 / 57).”
The security firm saw similar results with surveys that promise you an activated and unlocked Windows 10, as well as websites dedicated to fully unlocking Windows 10. The same goes for a “Windows 10 Gamer Edition.” Stay far, far away from all these, folks.
In case you did use one of these activation tools, download a good antivirus program and run it to get rid of any malware on your PC. In fact, if you are paranoid like me, it might be best to format and reinstall Windows. Once you’ve done this, spend a few moments thinking about where you’re getting your advice from. You’ll find a lot of scammy videos on YouTube, linking to activation key unlocks and “free downloads” of premium applications and games; these are all, of course, scams. At the very least, review the comments on these videos, but for the safest results, steer well clear of them. No one you can trust is offering downloads or serial keys via YouTube.
Windows 10 Cannot Be Unlocked, It’s Free
If you want to try out Windows 10, please do it safely. There are three easy and safe ways to install Windows 10 on your computer, so use one of those instead of downloading an ISO from a third-party site or a torrent.
The official version of Windows 10 cannot be unlocked to a full version, so there is no question of going around looking for a way of doing this. More importantly, Windows 10 is free and works on both mobile and desktop, so there is absolutely no reason you should go around looking for a way to hack it and unlock it.
What To Do When You Are Prompted To Activate Windows 10
Most users can enjoy the splendours of Windows 10 Technical Preview without ever encountering a prompt to activate it. However, there are certain scenarios where you will face this prompt:
Ed Bott of ZDNet encountered the prompt above. The solution isn’t to panic (when is it ever?), nor is it to search Google for ways to activate Windows 10. It’s actually far simpler. Here’s how you activate Windows 10:
- Go to the official Windows 10 Technical Preview download page, where you grabbed the original ISO.
- Scroll down to where you see “Product Key”, right before the download links.
- Copy that product key, then click on that activation prompt or follow the steps to activate Windows 8; Windows 10 uses the same method.
And before you go, our Windows editor Tina has one more piece of advice you should heed: The Windows 10 Technical Preview should not be your main OS.
Have you tried to activate Windows 10? Perhaps you’ve stumbled across malware by following links from other videos on YouTube? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments box.