I am interested in running windows 10 on my mac via apple's Boot Camp. I plan to follow the instructions laid out on this website: https://9to5mac.com/2017/01/23/how-to-install-windows-10-mac-boot-camp-assistant-partition-video/.

If I download the windows 10 iso file from microsoft, can I run windows without paying for a license? Does Microsoft allow you to run an unlicensed version windows? I have found conflicting information online and I don't want to start this process until I'm sure that I can use windows' without paying.

P.S. I only plan to use the Windows partition for ARCgis so it would be a shame to pay for a windows license just to use one software.

2 Answers 2


You can legally install and run Windows 10 (But not Windows 8.1 or earlier) as a trial up to 90 days on your Macbook Air with less personalization features, an “Activate Windows” watermark at the right bottom and some reminders about activating Windows time to time. Only thing you have to do is to download an ISO from Microsoft from this link (make sure to choose 64-bit) and use Bootcamp to install Windows as usual. During installation, when you are asked for a license key, there will be a button at the bottom of the window (not really sure about position), which says “I don’t have a license key” or something similar. Press it and choose the type of Windows you want to install if asked. You will be installing Windows 10 trial if you have followed this correctly, but there is no legal way to use it for free forever with all features.

If you are installing Windows just to run one application, try Winebottler for macOS first.

  • You can legally do no such thing.
    – Allan
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 22:53
  • I edited the answer.
    – user255044
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 10:02
  • Okay. Thanks. A quick search makes it seem like ArcGis doesn't work on WineBottler. Also why doen't they use https?: winebottler.kronenberg.org
    – axme100
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 1:12

If I download the windows 10 ISO file from Microsoft, can I run windows without paying for a license?

No. You legally must acquire a valid license. However, you can download a trial version that you can use to test out Windows 10 for a period of up to 90 days.

From the Microsoft Windows 10 Terms of Use:

You are authorized to use this software only if you are properly licensed and the software has been properly activated with a genuine product key or by other authorized method. When you connect to the Internet while using the software, the software will automatically contact Microsoft or its affiliate to conduct activation to associate it with a certain device. You can also activate the software manually by Internet or telephone. In either case, transmission of certain information will occur, and Internet, telephone and SMS service charges may apply. During activation (or reactivation that may be triggered by changes to your device’s components), the software may determine that the installed instance of the software is counterfeit, improperly licensed or includes unauthorized changes. If activation fails, the software will attempt to repair itself by replacing any tampered Microsoft software with genuine Microsoft software. You may also receive reminders to obtain a proper license for the software. Successful activation does not confirm that the software is genuine or properly licensed. You may not bypass or circumvent activation. To help determine if your software is genuine and whether you are properly licensed, see (aka.ms/genuine). Certain updates, support, and other services might only be offered to users of genuine Microsoft software.

I have found conflicting information online and I don't want to start this process until I'm sure that I can use windows' without paying.

You are getting conflicting information because most articles/blogs/comments on the web conflate what is legally allowed and what Microsoft is currently enforcing. Just because Microsoft is not strictly adhering to its T&Cs doesn't mean you are not bound by them through the use of their software.

Every Windows 10 installation whether it's on a physical device or in a VM, requires activation. At the introduction of Windows 10 and up to July 29th 2016, you were able to obtain a free license of Windows 10 if you were upgrading from (a valid) Windows 7 or higher installation.

Installing Windows 10 on a Bootcamp partition is no different than if you installed Windows 10 on the entire hard drive on any computer (including Macs)

I only plan to use the Windows partition for ARCgis so it would be a shame to pay for a windows license just to use one software.

I understand where you're coming from with this statement; it's important to note that even macOS is not "free". It is provided at "no charge" to use on Apple hardware. In otherwords, Apple's model is that purchasing their hardware entitles you to a license (they include whatever costs in the price of the hardware)

From macOS License Terms:

to download, install, use and run for personal, non-commercial use, one (1) copy of the Apple Software directly on each Apple-branded computer running macOS Sierra, OS X El Capitan, OS X Yosemite, OS X Mavericks, OS X Mountain Lion or OS X Lion (“Mac Computer”) that you own or control;

Bottom line... to install an OS, you must comply with the licensing terms. For Apple, that means buying Mac hardware. For Windows, it's to purchase a software license for installation on your hardware.

  • Can you get older versions of windows for free?
    – axme100
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 17:38
  • 1
    No. Older Microsoft products (from Win95 on) required a product key which must be purchased either via retail or via OEM (i.e. Dell computer or laptop with Windows preinstalled). Windows Vista/7/8/10 require activation. Obviously, you can't buy anything prior to Window 10 now. However if you are able obtain a license key (whether you pay for it or you get it free), you will be able to install a valid copy.
    – Allan
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 17:51
  • 2
    NB: Windows 10 actually allows you to continue running the "trial" version of indefinitely. You won't be able to change your desktop background or perform other visual customizations, and you'll get a little watermark in the bottom righthand corner asking you to activate Windows, but otherwise, no functionality is impaired.
    – JMY1000
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 18:46

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