Not paying OnTheHub to redownload Windows ISOs

If you’re looking to re-download Microsoft Windows 10 Education edition ISOs and have a valid key from the university licensing program already, grab the education edition ISO images directly from Microsoft instead of paying OnTheHub/Kivuto protection money.

Context

UC Berkeley, like many other universities, has a volume licensing deal with Microsoft for its operating system products. In particular, it offers free downloads of Windows 10 Education edition to all current students.

The irritating thing about this is that they offer this deal through a shady vendor called OnTheHub or Kivuto. Instead of allowing the ability to re-download the ISO image, it holds you hostage if you want to access the image file again after 60 days.

When you first download, it offers you a discounted “extended access guarantee”:

To ensure that your download and/or key(s) remain accessible to you, you can extend your coverage to 24 months with the Extended Access Guarantee for $4.95. With this service, Kivuto will back up your download and/or key(s) on their servers, allowing you to access this information at any time under the “Your Account” section of the WebStore.

If you declined to take advantage of this oh-so-generous offer, and find yourself needing the ISO again after 60 days:

Access Guarantee Retrieval (60 days)
Purchase this service if you wish to recover your download(s) and/or key(s) after access has expired.
You will gain another 60 days of access to any expired product in your order.Learn more
$11.95

In my case, I backed up the wrong ISO — the generic install ISO, instead of the education edition ISO. The product key Kivuto issues you is for the Education edition, so the generic ISO you can get online won’t let you install with the key. It’ll report an error of “The product key entered does not match any of the Windows images” at install time.

So when it came time to reinstall, suddenly I’m faced with the OnTheHub protection racket.

Solution

For Windows 10, at least, you don’t have to pay the protection money. Education edition ISOs are available directly from Microsoft after product key verification. The download page is rather well-hidden, under the “more options” link from the software download page.

Unsurprisingly, OnTheHub makes no mention of this download source.

I wonder how much money OnTheHub makes off people who didn’t realize there was a free, official source for Windows 10 ISO images. Bandwidth costs money, sure, but you are a *education software download vendor* in 2015, with a target market of underpaid students and faculty. Nickel-and-diming poor student users for software downloads, in this era of cloud-driven computing, is an obsolete and despicable business practice.

One thought on “Not paying OnTheHub to redownload Windows ISOs

  1. Michael Bradley

    Taking of Windows 10 … many of us have newer Macs with very small SSDs (I use a new 2013 Mac Pro) and using Boot Camp therefore becomes problematic. I found that an $8 USB connector from Amazon and a bare 250 GB SSD (now very cheap) also from Amazon solved this. The only issue was how to put Boot Camp on an external drive? The answer is not to. If you have Parallels or VMWare simply use two free utilities, to transfer your Windows ISO to the external SSD all from within Windows running in the VM. The free utilities are WintoUSB and to prepare the SSD with the partitions I used MiniTool Partition Wizard. The latter allows you to create the two partitions, one small FAT 32 one, the rest as NTFS and set them as Primary and Active. The installation is very fast. Once done simply hold option on Mac and select the EFI drive for booting and then follow along with the installation of Windows as normal. Once done I then install the Boot Camp drivers. Caveat, make sure all this is done on the Mac you will be using since the new Windows 10 will authenticate to that machine. The nice thing is once done you can create endless SSDs like this and they always get authenticated automatically. This means you can have several bootable Windows 10 externals for tests and various set ups. I have one dedicated to gaming and another for real work for example.

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