How does Microsoft’s Windows 8 Pro upgrade licensing work?

Adrian Bagnato January 17, 2013
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I have Windows 7 Home Premium pre-installed on my Toshiba laptop and I have been confused for some time now about Microsoft and their Windows key licensing.

How does it work? If i buy a Windows 8 Pro upgrade and use it on my laptop, is the key binded to it? Or is the key now useless? I reinstall my operating systems basically once or twice a year, will the key have unlimited uses on that machine? Or after a few uses is the key invalid?

Can I do a clean install or only upgrade from an existing Windows installation?

Thanks, Adrian

  1. yt287456
    June 17, 2013 at 10:34 am

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  2. Newell Fisk
    January 26, 2013 at 7:08 pm

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  3. Safvan Vhora
    January 22, 2013 at 9:05 am

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  4. Alan Wade
    January 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    You can re-install to your hearts content! You may at some point get a refusal but then its just a case of selecting the telephone method of activating. As far as a clean install from an upgrade disk - Yes!
    I did it without any problem at all by just typing in the key, no little registry tweaks needed!

    • Adrian Bagnato
      January 19, 2013 at 12:35 am

      Thanks so much for your response Alan :)
      And by doing a clean install my Windows 7 key will still be valid if i choose to downgrade or use it on another machine?

      • Alan Wade
        January 19, 2013 at 2:38 am

        Your Win 7 key is definately OK if you downgrade (done that too). Whether or not you could use it on another machine is doubtful. Is it an OEM key or a full retail key?

        Back to Win 8,
        Read this from Paul Thurret:

        Should your Win 8 not activate, and this I know works, here is a work around:

        Open Regedit
        Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup\OOBE
        Double click on the value MediaBootInstall and change the value from 1 to 0
        Open an elevated command prompt (run as admin)
        Run the following command: slmgr -rearm

        If you have already entered your key then check the activation if not click on Activate Windows and enter your key
        It should now activate without any problem.

        • Adrian Bagnato
          January 19, 2013 at 2:56 am

          OEM, so if i buy the upgrade disk and boot from it, i can use the custom option it'll do a clean install and Windows 8 can be activated?

        • Alan Wade
          January 19, 2013 at 2:59 am


          Win 7 OEM cannot be transfered to another machine, or rather I dont know of a way to do that.

  5. Ahmed Musani
    January 17, 2013 at 5:34 pm
    • Paul Pruitt
      January 17, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      This article seems to be what you are looking for.

      I would add maybe expanding on what the article says, I have personally I think moved an Windows 7 operating system from a spinning platter disk to a blank SSD on machine that started as a Vista one. The machine's was upgraded to Windows 7 with an upgrade disk and then reinstalled on the SSD instead later also with the same upgrade disk. The activation worked fine.

      It seems to me that you should be able to do that with Windows 8 too when you need to do a reinstall. If not, you can always call Microsoft, explain the situation and get them to activate by phone. The actual install might not be the problem, I think it is the activation...

    • Paul Pruitt
      January 17, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      Also if what I said is not true you might be able to reinstall with formatting by even booting from the upgrade disk, just don't format ahead of time. That is:
      1. With a Windows 8 installation, boot from the upgrade disk, Widows then might verify that yes you have a Windows 8 instillation already running. Upgrading can mean reinstalling too I think.
      2. When it asks you where to install choose "Advanced".
      3. Delete the partition where you plan to install Windows clean.
      4. Create a new partition. Windows at this point may create a separate 100MB sized system partition, especially if you have removed it in the previous delete partition(s) step.
      5. Format the new large partition.
      6. Tell Windows to install on this new formatted partition.
      7. The sticking point might be activation, not installation, but even here my experience is it will activate. If not call Microsoft explain what you did and ask for an activation over the phone.

    • Paul Pruitt
      January 17, 2013 at 10:43 pm

      So take away message is I think you have unlimited installs from the upgrade disk on the same machine as long as a Windows installation exists on that machine. As for a clean install, use the Windows disk and the Advance menu to delete partitions, remake them and reformat before reinstalling.

      • ha14
        January 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm

        yap i think it should be unlimited install of windows upgrade on a machine having early windows OS

  6. dhanunjayarao chunduri
    January 17, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    If you purchase the upgrade media,then the old OS i.e. Windows 7 becomes useless as legally, But you can use it in same devices. And You can use windows 8 In another device But your windows License is Illegal.

  7. susendeep dutta
    January 17, 2013 at 11:22 am

    If you purchase the upgrade media,then the old OS i.e. Windows 7 becomes useless as legally,you cannot use it on any other devices.

    If you reinstall your OS,then you may need to reactivate your key by contacting Microsoft on phone.In Windows 8,there is a feature called Reset in which it returns the machine to its factory defaults.So,you'll feel that you did a new installation of Windows 8.

    You cannot perform clean install from the upgrade media as during installation,it'll search for previous Windows installation.So,if you become unsatisfied with Windows 8's Reset feature and want to reinstall the OS,then you'll first have to install Windows 7 and then use the upgrade media to upgrade to Windows 8.

    • Adrian Bagnato
      January 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      There is a way to clean install an upgrade DVD, i've seen it online.
      So is my Windows 7 key still valid? Can i still reinstall Windows 7 if i want to go back?

    • Adrian Bagnato
      January 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      There is a way to clean install an upgrade DVD, i've seen it online. So is my Windows 7 key still valid? Can i still reinstall Windows 7 if i want to go back?

      • ha14
        January 17, 2013 at 8:18 pm

        OEM computer manufacturers are required to provide some ways to reinstall Windows in case needed - either through a restore partition on your hard drive, or Windows install OEM/restore disks.

        Since Windows 7 editions provided by OEM are customized, it is possible certain Windows 7 component provided by the OEM is not installed properly with another windows dvd, and likely the license will not work. So you have to stick with Toshiba dvd.

        Reinstalling Windows® 7 on Toshiba® Laptop
        [Broken Link Removed]

  8. Jan Fritsch
    January 17, 2013 at 10:22 am

    To be eligible for a Win8 upgrade you need a valid full license of the appropriate prior Windows version.

    While it is technically possible to "re-use" the old Windows 7 Home Premium license it is not within your license and upgrade rights.

    (1) The Windows 7 license pre-installed on the device is bound to this single device.
    (2) The Windows 8 Upgrade license is only valid as long as you have a prior full license "reserved/installed" on this device. So basically "Windows 7 Home Premium + Windows 8 Pro upgrade = 1 Full license of Windows 8 Pro".

    • Adrian Bagnato
      January 17, 2013 at 11:03 am

      Thanks, but thats not really related to my questions.

      • Jan Fritsch
        January 17, 2013 at 11:47 pm

        I thought you were referring to the Windows 7 license ~ whether it's "useless" then.

        How does it work? It depends whether you buy a "physical" upgrade in a shop where you get a installation media or you buy a digital version.

        With the media the installation is like with any other Windows.

        With a digital version you will start with the Upgrade Assistant which has to be run on the machine you want to upgrade. Basically it will guide you through the process, help you chose the correct version (32-bit or 64-bit), enable you to install right away or create an installation media.

        The licence is only bound as long as it is installed. If you decide to roll back to Windows 7 you can use the upgrade on another machine eligible for the upgrade. For retail licenses this is fully legal, for OEM versions it is against the license agreement but will work regardless.

        You can also re-install Windows once or twice a year as before. There is no activation limit. (Only) As with older versions of Windows, certain hardware changes e.g. new motherboard will be considered a secondary installation and require to call the activation hotline to re-active Windows.

  9. ha14
    January 17, 2013 at 9:39 am

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    windows upgrade will allow only to upgrade from an already installed windows 7 to windows 8, you cannot use it as indepandant installation. Windows 8 "non-OEM" versions are "upgrade" licenses, which can always be trasnferred to antother system, you will need remove the upgrade on the previous one.

    • Adrian Bagnato
      January 17, 2013 at 9:47 am

      I know that already and there is a way todo a clean install using the upgrade DVD's.

      • ha14
        January 17, 2013 at 10:42 am

        reply like format windows and install windows 8? in this case is no, license activation will not work. Windows 8 upgrade requires older Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 on the machine.

        Windows 8 Upgrade: clean install possible?
        as clean install choose Nothing (third option) on Windows 8 setup screen.
        try the registry hack if it works for you (violates the license terms)

        [Broken Link Removed]

        Toshiba Windows 8 Upgrade Information
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        Clean Install of Windows 8
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