The Ultimate Windows 10 Activation & License FAQ

Gavin Phillips 19-11-2015

The confusion surrounding Windows 10, updates, licensing, activation, and versions is substantial. Windows 10 arrived on July 29 When Does Windows 10 Come Out, How Can You Get It & What Happens to the Technical Preview? Windows 10 is coming soon. Still confused about how the upgrade will work and wondering about the timeline? We have some answers, although more questions remain. Read More  and was initially met with widespread kudos throughout the technology world. Since then Windows 10 has repeatedly come under-fire Everything You Need to Know About Windows 10's Privacy Issues While Windows 10 has some issues that users need to be aware of, many claims have been blown out of proportion. Here's our guide to everything you need to know about Windows 10's privacy issues. Read More , and the reputation of the operating system goes from strength to strength.


As there are many people still considering whether to upgrade, hold fire How to Upgrade to Windows 10 Now & Why You Should Wait Have you been waiting patiently since July 29 for your Windows 10 upgrade? You should probably wait until you receive an official notification, but if you are determined, you can force the Windows 10 upgrade. Read More , or abandon Windows altogether, we thought we would assemble a document to help you through the struggles, answering some of the most commonly encountered questions regarding Windows 10 activation How to Turn Off Automatic App Updates in Windows 10 how to stop the auto-update function for apps in Windows 10, if you don't want the latest versions of apps for any reason. Read More and licensing.

Windows 10 Activation Terminology

Product Key refers to the traditional method of upgrading or licensing any version of Windows. If you purchase a new copy of Windows 10 from a retailer, have a Volume Licensing agreement, or even bought a new device running Windows 10, it is likely you’ll have to enter a product key during the installation and activation process.

Digital Entitlement refers to the upgrade process from Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, to Windows 10 without using a new product key.

This new method of activation in Windows 10 ties your product key to your hardware, meaning once you’ve upgraded from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 to Windows 10, you will no longer have to input your product key each time you wish to install Windows 10.

You can check your current activation status under Settings > Update & Security > Activation. If you’re still unsure of how Windows 10 has arrived on your system, Microsoft has provided a handy piece on where it might have come from.


Q1: Can I Upgrade My Hardware?

It depends on your license. Any user upgrading from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 How You Could Have Upgraded to Windows 10 by Accident & What to Do Windows 10 was accidentally auto-installed on Windows 7 and 8.1 machines without user consent. Microsoft apologized for the mistake. We analyze the events and show you once more how to NOT get Windows 10. Read More will be issued with a Windows 10 digital entitlement directly linked to your system hardware — namely, your motherboard. While rumors have persisted that Microsoft will try to resell you Windows 10 in the event of an upgrade, it isn’t true.

Windows 10 Logo

In the event of a hardware upgrade, you’ll have to reactivate your Windows 10 installation using the automated phone service. So adding RAM, a new hard drive, an SSD, or a new GPU shouldn’t cause you any issues. If you’re still within the one year upgrade period, you can reinstall your old operating system and update from there. Long-winded, but almost guaranteed to work.

OEM licenses 4 Cheap Ways To Obtain A Legal Copy Of Windows 7 It seems like Microsoft is hitting the nail with Windows only every other version. Windows 7 was one of them. Thing is, Microsoft doesn't sell Windows 7 anymore. Here are your options. Read More are still just that: one time use, linked to your hardware. Retail licenses still allow you to shift your installation from system to system, provided you keep your product key somewhere safe.


N.B: Digital Entitlement hasn’t replaced product keys altogether, but Windows 10 license keys seem to be of generic type, meaning keys are not unique to your activation.

Speculation: I know there is a huge amount of uncertainty surrounding the status of Windows 10 activation following a hardware upgrade. This author would contend that once you have upgraded your existing operating system to Windows 10, your product key will be marked as such. Any upgrade outside of the yearlong upgrade period will be reactivated, so long as you’re not breaching the terms of the licensing agreement.

Q2: Can I Use My Windows 7/8/8.1 Key for a Clean Windows 10 Install?

Yes. Starting with Windows 10 version 1511 An Insider Review of the Windows 10 Fall Update The Windows 10 Fall Update contains many minor improvements, a few feature updates, and a bunch of new settings. We show you what to expect and which default settings you might want to adjust. Read More (the Fall Update), you can activate Windows 10 using a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 product key. See Windows and Devices Group Vice President Gabe Aul’s statement concerning registration with those keys:

“If you install this build (…) and it doesn’t automatically activate, you can enter the product key from Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 used to activate the prior Windows version on the same device to activate Windows 10 by going to Settings > Update & security > Activation and selecting Change Product Key,”

Q3: Can I Do a Clean Install at All?

Of course. On Windows 10.0 (the version prior to 1511), you could only do a clean installation of Windows 10 How to Install Windows 10 for Free on any Windows, Linux, or OS X PC You don't have to upgrade to Windows 10 to try it. Whether you qualify for the free upgrade or want to try Windows 10 on Linux or OS X, you can evaluate it for free. Read More  once you had upgraded.


During the upgrade process from Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 to Windows 10, you were assigned a unique machine identifier –the Digital Entitlement we mentioned earlier — linked to your motherboard. Once you installed Windows 10, you could download a new ISO and perform a clean installation Should You Refresh, Reset, Restore, or Reinstall Windows? Ever wanted to reset Windows 7 without losing personal data? Between a factory reset and a reinstall, it was tough. Since Windows 8, we have two new options: Refresh and Reset. Which one is right... Read More .

You can still initiate a clean installation this way and Windows 10 should activate automatically via the unique machine identifier stored on a Microsoft server. In this case, you can skip entering the product key. Your machine will be assigned a generic product key until your Digital Entitlement has been confirmed with Microsoft’s upgrade database.

Windows 10 USB

Since Windows 10 version 1511, you can use the Windows 10 Media Creation tool to create Windows 10 installation media Make Today Your Launch Day: Get Windows 10 Now! You're eager to install Windows 10. Unfortunately, you missed the Insider Preview and now it's taking a while until the upgrade will be rolled out to you. Here's how to get Windows 10 now! Read More , install Windows 10 from scratch, and activate that clean installation using your Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 product key.


Q4: I Will Lose My Key if I Upgrade!

This would be particularly devilish of Microsoft, but it isn’t true. However, the wording surrounding licenses has been particularly convoluted, and we’ve seen information disseminated from a wide range of sources, causing confusion.

Microsoft updated the license agreement Free Windows 10 Ebooks & Information Material to Prepare for the Upgrade Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. The final countdown for the Windows 10 release on July 29 has begun. We have compiled a wealth of Windows 10 information to guide you through the upgrade and onto calmer... Read More to accommodate the changes to transfer rights, while retaining their basic licensing terms. This means, as mentioned above, OEM licenses are locked to the device on which they’re sold, retail copies can be moved from device-to-device so long as the old copy is removed first.

The licensing agreement also protects your downgrade rights How to Downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.1 Windows 10 is here and maybe it's not what you expected. If you already upgraded, you can perform a rollback. And if you haven't yet, create a system backup first. We show you how. Read More if you aren’t happy with the Windows 10 upgrade. However, the changes haven’t appeased everybody, as to be expected.

Q4a: What Type of Key Will I End Up With?

All keys will translate across versions. Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 retail keys will remain as so. OEM and volume keys likewise, so on, and so forth.

Q5: Can I Migrate My Windows 10 License to a New PC?

As with old Windows licenses, this depends on the type of license you wish to transfer. You can use the Microsoft Genuine Advantage Diagnostics Tool to find out your license type. Download and run the tool. You’ll see your Validation Status, Product Key, and importantly, Product ID Type.


If you have a retail license, you can transfer your Windows 10 license to a new PC without issue. You can not transfer your Digital Entitlement to a new system.

Q6: I Bought Windows 10; Am I Digitally Entitled?

No. Only users upgrading from legitimate Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 licenses How to Get a Cheap Windows 7 or 8 License Now to Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free Worried about the future of your old or pirated Windows copy? Now is the time to snatch a cheap Windows 7 or 8 license to secure yourself that free upgrade to Windows 10. We show... Read More will use Digital Entitlement to secure their Windows 10 activation. Users purchasing shiny new Windows 10 licenses How to Get a Cheap Windows 7 or 8 License Now to Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free Worried about the future of your old or pirated Windows copy? Now is the time to snatch a cheap Windows 7 or 8 license to secure yourself that free upgrade to Windows 10. We show... Read More will need to enter their product key as normal, be that digital or disk based.

Q7: Will My Non-Genuine Copy Become Legitimate?

No. You’ll be updated, but you’ll have a black mark against your copy and it’ll be unsupported. Meaning no security or feature updates.

However, during the initial upgrade period following the July 29 release date, a number of users reported their non-genuine copies of Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 receiving upgrades via the Windows Update/Get Windows 10 app, with several of those upgrades showing the “Windows is activated” status, alongside a shiny new product ID.

That said, those positive reports were vastly outweighed by the negatives, with many pirated users reporting “pay and activate Windows 10 Upgrade - Free Doesn't Mean It Won't Cost Anything There's a catch to the free Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft understands its audience all too well; they are more likely to pay for the freedom of control, rather than for extra features. Read More ” prompts, likely relating to the crack used to activate Windows 7, 8, or 8.1. The update process will see each user upgraded to a Windows 10 version matching this matrix, and pirates will follow the same suit.

Q8: Why Didn’t My Insider Preview Version Activate?

While many expected the Windows Insider program Be the First to Test New Windows 10 Builds as Windows Insider Windows Insiders are the first to test new Windows 10 builds. They are also the first to suffer from bugs. Here we show you how to join or leave the program and how to share... Read More to have their copies activated for free, it hasn’t strictly been the case. My own version fully activated during the Windows 10 launch, but following an updated build returned to an evaluation copy. Others have reported their activation remaining intact. Quite hit and miss, it would seem!

You can still sign up for the Windows Insider Preview here.

Q9: Help! Nothing Is Happening!

First, check Settings > Update & Security > Activation to see your current activation status. If you’re activated, huzzah! If not, there are a number of reasons why, and an equal number of ways to fix it.

If you see “Connect to the Internet to Activate Windows” select Activate to manually begin the activation process. If this doesn’t work, Microsoft advises contacting customer support.

If you’re certain you have upgraded using a legitimate Windows license, it could be prudent to wait a short time for Windows to activate of its own accord, in the background.

Q10: Help! Nothing Is Happening and I Don’t Want to Wait!

If you don’t want to wait, you can try and do two things.

Automated Phone Activation. Press Windows+R, or type this command 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy Don't let the command prompt intimidate you. It's simpler and more useful than you expect. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish with just a few keystrokes. Read More straight into the search bar: SLUI.EXE 4. The dialogue box will offer a list of countries. Choose yours from the dropdown list and it will show you both the free number to call and your installation ID.

At this point, make a note of the installation ID and call the number. The automated system will read your installation key back to you. Use the Enter Confirmation ID to confirm your installation.

Windows 10 Confirmation ID

Force Activation: Open an elevated Command Prompt 15 Windows Command Prompt (CMD) Commands You Must Know The command prompt is still a powerful Windows tool. Here are the most useful CMD commands every Windows user needs to know. Read More . Press Windows+R, followed by CMD. Alternatively, right-click the Start menu and locate Command Prompt (Admin).

Once opened, use command vbs –rearm to re-attempt activation. You’ll have to restart your computer for the process to complete. On reboot, enter your product key.

If you’re still out of luck, reopen the elevated Command Prompt and enter slmgr.vbs /ato. This command forces a check for the Windows 10 license.

Finally, if you cannot enter a product key following each of the above commands, try slmgr.vbs /ipk XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX, replacing the X’s with your product key.

Command Prompt Admin Windows 10

These methods can be used to alleviate a number of common error messages, such as 0XC004E003, 0x8007000D, 0x8007232b or 0x8007007B. See the following section for more common error codes.

Common Error Codes

These are the most common error codes encountered during the Windows 10 activation process. Most can be remedied using one of the aforementioned fixes.

Error 0xC004C003: This product key didn’t work

You might encounter this error code if you’ve performed a clean install of Windows 10 without previously upgrading from Windows 10. This was a common occurrence in the time following the Windows 10 release, but has been partially remedied by the Windows 10 Version 1511 update, allowing Windows 10 activation using a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 key.

This is also the error code produced if the Windows 10 upgrade servers are busy at the time of asking. If that is the case, you can wait a short amount of time, or head to Settings > Update & Security > Activation, and select Activate.

If you still experience errors following an upgrade, it could be worth rolling-back to your previous Windows installation and ensuring this version is activated.

Windows 10 Activation Error Code

Error 0xC004F034: License could not be found or was invalid, Error 0xC004F050: The product key you entered didn’t work, Error 0xC004E016: Error installing product key

This error is usually encountered if you enter an invalid product key, or a product key relating to a different version of Windows.

However, this is set to change in Windows 10 version 1511, which may alleviate some of these errors.

Error 0xC004C4AE: Genuine Validation detected tampered Windows binaries, Error 0xC004E003: The Software Licensing Service reported that the license evaluation failed

This error may appear if you’ve previously installed third-party software onto your system. This is commonly used to add an unsupported display language, though it could also be due to tampering with Genuine Validation in the previous version of Windows.

You can rollback to the previous version and make sure the license you upgraded from is validated. If it is, you may well have to restore you PC to its pre-third-party software status before activation will complete.

If everything else fails, you could be using an invalid version of Windows. However, read on for more tips!

Error 0xC004FC03: A networking problem has occurred while activating your copy of Windows

This is a networking error. If you have upgraded from a previous version of Windows, you might not yet be connected to the Internet. Check that you have installed the requisite drivers to access the Internet and perform an activation.

Equally, your firewall settings may be blocking the activation. Check your settings, but if it is still an issue, Microsoft advises contacting customer support.

Error 0xC004C008: The activation server has reported that the product key has exceeded its unlock limit

If you’ve used your product key to activate another Windows 10 installation, or have an OEM license, you may encounter this error code. There are two courses of action here: check your product key is valid, and/or rollback to a previous version of Windows and confirm your activation, or contact customer support to discuss your product key status.

It could be possible your previous Windows license was invalid; in this case you’ll have to purchase a new Windows 10 product key. If you have purchased a cheap license key, you may have been caught out and sold a volume license, which has been retroactively blocked. See also the next error code.

Error 0xC004C020: The activation server reported that the Multiple Activation Key has exceeded its limit

This error will occur if a volume license has been activated on more systems than the Microsoft Software Licensing Terms allow. It can mean different things though, to different users.

If you’re working in or for an organization using volume licensing keys, contact the IT department and explain what has happened. They should be able to steer you in the right direction.

If you’re an individual that has purchased a volume license, contact the seller and ask for an exchange or refund.

It is almost guaranteed that someone out there will be sharing your pain, meaning a quick online search for the error code in question can usually reveal some of the commonly encountered problems, and how to remedy them as quickly as possible.

Activation Roundup

Microsoft has changed their license distribution and activation methods, but it shouldn’t worry you. The constant speculation surrounding the new methods should come to nothing; Microsoft makes money hand-over-fist without causing a major public relations issue, alienating people further, or harming the largely positive reputation Windows 10 is now enjoying.

Windows 10 Activated Screen

It should come as no surprise that Microsoft isn’t forthcoming with the exacting details of their activation service. Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 were cracked within months of their release, and Windows 10 has been no different. Microsoft might venture that any information provided becomes ammunition for crackers.

At the crux of Windows 10 activation is the free upgrade from an existing version. It is important to remember that the upgrade process includes the unique machine identity process, guaranteeing your machine details are recorded in the big Windows 10 activation database and certifying your license for reuse down the line.

With Windows 10 version 1511, activation has become a little easier, and hopefully we have provided an answer for everything else!

Have you had Windows 10 activation issues? What was your problem? How did you fix it? Let us know below!

Related topics: FAQ, Software Licenses, Windows 10.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Allen
    December 10, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Hi Gavin,

    I'm an administrator for many PCs. Can I link all of the windows 10 PCs under one Microsoft account? or is it one PC for a single Microsoft account each?

  2. Lora
    June 8, 2017 at 3:33 am

    Go to Google to search "vinhugo" to get 100% genuine key, fast delivered, great price, and of course works like a charm!

  3. Kate
    August 8, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Reactivating Windows 10 After a Hardware Change

    In Windows 10 (Version 1607 or later), you can link your Microsoft account to the Windows 10 digital license on your device. This can help you reactivate Windows using the Activation troubleshooter if you make a significant hardware change later, such as replacing the motherboard.

  4. jondavis
    August 6, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Will my single language license work on home version? I can't completely download the iso from windows but i got an AIO iso which has home version.

  5. David Opskins
    July 30, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks Red, the website licence-activation is very interesting.

  6. Anonymous
    July 29, 2016 at 2:26 am

    For people who wanna genuine Office 2016 Product Key, visit this page

  7. Red
    July 27, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    For an original Windows 10 licence key, I suggest you to go and visit this websit :, it's really awesome ! I have had some keys from them and they are just perfectly working.

    • David Opskins
      July 30, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Thanks Red, the website is very interesting

  8. Elena
    July 22, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    I have old windows xp and vista keys. I have the threepack of upgrade to windows 7 home keys, one used, two available. I have a machine on windows 7, one on xp, one on a separately purchased windows 7 professional, a laptop still on vista, and the surface pro 3 I upgraded from 8.1 to 10 already..

    Argh. Can't I just go get upgrade keys from XP to 10 without completely reshuffling my machines around? Except for the Surface, all my licenses were purchased separately as I've been building my own boxes for a decade.

  9. Andreas
    July 22, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Hi there, I have a question that has not been answered so far... I have a new win 10 home laptop and in addition to that I have a defect old HP PC with win7 Pro license. I used a Tool to verify the Key and it is still valid. This is the what I got from the tool:Product Key : Win7Pro key
    Profile : NT 6.1 SP1
    Validity : Valid
    Product ID : xxxxx-OEM-9304113-50860
    Advanced ID : xxxxx-00186-041-150860-02-1031-7601.0000-2032016
    Activation ID : an Activation ID
    Edition Type : Professional
    Description : Windows 7 Professional OEM:COA
    Edition ID : X15-37341
    Key Type : OEM:COA
    EULA : OEM
    Crypto ID : 186
    Can I use this one to update my win 10 home to win 10Pro? Or could you give me a link where I can check tihs before upgrading with the general key and than using this key I have. I do not want to have no lizense anymore. I red that you cannot roll back if key is not fitting

  10. Anonymous
    July 22, 2016 at 1:51 am

    Guys can try this link to get Office 2016 Product Key !! Be quick! Click Here:

    July 11, 2016 at 11:27 am

    i have just formatted my system and os and installed a new windows 10 copy downloaded from torrentz. now its showing 0x004f074 error. and my windows is not getting activated.what should i do to activate my windows... please help me.

    • Gavin Phillips
      July 11, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      First off, if you're attempting to activate a torrented version of Windows, I cannot help you.

      If you need a legitimate version of Windows 10 you should use the various official download links, and provide your key during installation.

      Details of how to activate your version of Windows 10 through Command Prompt are included in the article.

      MUO does not condone the illegal pirating of licensed software.

  12. Anonymous
    July 5, 2016 at 6:27 am

    Just wanted to
    I have helped people "who cannot afford" computing, refurbish old systems donated by schools, they help me a lot.

  13. Mohamed Hamdeen
    June 29, 2016 at 9:47 am

    First thank you for the Amazing Article.

    I have a question, i have Volume License key , NO SW Assurance,to my company for Windows 7 PRO , i plan to test Windows 10 and Later upgrade some of the Users to Windows 10 while many others will remain using windows 7.
    So, my question is , will my Win 7 Volume License Key remain active for both Windows 7 and Windows 10 Mixed Environment ?
    and will subsequent Installations of Either Windows 7 or Windows 10 in case of Replacing hardware Still work with the Same Key ?

    • Gavin Phillips
      July 11, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      AFAIK, once the update period ends, you'll have to purchase a new set of volume license keys. Unfortunately, I don't know how they work in your scenario. I would suggest directly contacting Microsoft.

      Good luck, and thank you for reading.

  14. Yokamura
    June 18, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Like Sandy said, the website is really good. The prices are the cheapset and the keys are original. I recommend

    • Gavin Phillips
      June 23, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      What sort of licenses are they, Yokamura?

      • Yokamura
        June 28, 2016 at 3:25 pm

        Original keys for Windows 10, Microsoft Office 2016....

  15. Sandy
    June 10, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    You can go visit this website : for original windows 10 keys at a lower price

    • MK-88
      June 11, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks for the website Sandy it's perfect

    • Edward Backingham
      July 25, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      Thank you.. it did work perfectly !

  16. David
    May 15, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    I installed windows 10 Enterprise. I don't remember how I did it, but it asks me to Activate it. I rang Microsoft and they said I had a company code ( that wasn't for me!) I can't go back to an older build , because apparently the old windows 10 has been removed from my machine. I am left with an Enterprise version , which I don't need or want, but Microsoft want me to buy a licence. My fault for messing about , but can I download an old windows 8 , straight onto my computer? Microsoft said ( and they were very nice) that even if I restore factory settings, I would still have windows 10 Enterprise.

    • Gavin Phillips
      June 23, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      Your Windows.old folder was removed? Did you accidentally delete it, or was it after the 30 days of installing Windows 10?

  17. erikdenhouter
    February 16, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    DLG, I think it will work, but making a separate USB stick (or DVD) with the Windows 10 installation files on it is fairly easy to do on your Windows 7 or 8.1 machine, with the use of the Microsoft Media Creation Tool (MCT), which can be found on the lower half of this page:

    If you use it, the ISO will be downloaded for you, and placed on the disk or stick, which then will be perfectly bootable for installation.
    So there is no need for taking chances.

  18. DLG
    February 16, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I have a Win7 computer that I'll be upgrading to Win10 soon, after which I plan on doing a clean install on it. I'm also building another computer from scratch. For that computer I'm buying the USB stick with Win10 already on it.
    My question is, can I use that retail USB stick for both the new machine and for the clean install on the old machine? Will the same USB OS work with two different product keys, or is the retail OS tied specifically to the accompanying product key?

  19. erikdenhouter
    February 15, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Edit for my prior comment:

    the explanation of the link I wrote is not correct. The link is only talking about a fresh install of Windows 10 without the need to upgrade first.
    Still I think it could be useful to know, and use it as an extra, also in the case you want a fresh install with the use of the old key, as would be possible, according to Microsoft, "Starting with Windows 10 version 1511 (the Fall Update)".

    Sorry for this mix-up.

  20. erikdenhouter
    February 14, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    You will not have to pay for the upgrade when you own the licence key for Windows 7 or 8.1, as long you have one of the versions that are entitled to upgrade for free to Windows 10.
    ( ! Excluded editions: Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1 are excluded from the free upgrade offer)

    'Just' install your old version fresh on your new SSD, activate it, even if you have to call them for installing on the new SSD (although I do NOT expect that) and then first update everything to a full working 7, or 8.1.
    Then start the upgrade, and I think you will not have any troubles.

    Here I found another way to secure your step to upgrade a bit, although it is only theory for me:

    What it says is:
    * Burn the W10 installation disk with the help of the Media Creation Tool from Microsoft.
    * Locate the executable gatherosstate.exe (probably in the map x:\sources) and copy it to your W7/8.1 desktop.
    * Execute it (probably as an Administrator).
    * After a few seconds a file GenuineTicket.xml will be placed on your desktop.
    * Copy this file safely outside your systemdisk/PC, so it will not be formatted away.
    * Do your upgrade as explained everywhere, but as you go along do not enter product key, skip that for later.
    * After the upgrade place the file GenuineTicket.xml in the HIDDEN folder C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\ClipSVC\GenuineTicket.
    * Reboot your PC.

    I cannot tell if this works as told, I have not tried it, but it is a straight forward and quick process, and as an extra security it could be something to keep on hand.

  21. dbaps2
    February 14, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Well I had a full install media box of 8.1. I upgraded to 10. Then I did a fresh install of 10. Recently I purchased a new SSD hard drive. It is a Samsung M.2 Pci-E x4 SSD. I made an image copy with Acronis, and Samsung's software. Both times the activation was refused. I called Microsoft. I went through the process where you have to put in the long ke. This process gave me an error and the Microsoft technician said I would have to install Windows 8.1 from scratch because of my new hard drive. As I said, I did this twice, with two different imaging packages. So if someone says replacing a hard drive will not cause a reactivation. that is not necessarily true. My problem could be because of the new architecture of the SSD. That is all that changed. But it was my boot drive. However, I did this type of install under Windows 8 several times and was always activated, though sometimes I had to call Microsoft.

    So does this now mean that when and if I lose my Windows 10 install, I will be required to go back to 8.1 and pay for an upgrade? Or at least I will always be required to go back to 8.1. Microsoft, the user friendly licensing company. They wonder why people no longer use Windows.

  22. erikdenhouter
    February 11, 2016 at 11:27 am

    A system information program like 'Speccy' (under 'Operating System - serial number'), or keyfinder 'ShowKeyPlus' can retrieve the key for you if rubbed off.


    • dbaps2
      February 14, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      That's good to know. I just think that when Windows 10 asks for my 8.1 license, which comes from a full Pro version, from a retail store, this should work. One thing I did not mention, my source was a Samsung 850 SSD. So both source and target SSD hardware were Samsung.

      Thanks though...

  23. Jer
    January 16, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    thanks for the info

  24. Donna
    January 14, 2016 at 12:16 am

    These common Windows 10 upgrade and installation error codes can be solved by being patient and willing to try out new methods, depending on why you're faced with your installation or upgrade error. A great source to get reliable and timely answers is at In some cases, it's rather difficult and cumbersome getting info from Microsoft's website, anyone of them, so that source can be used for assisting in manually fixing your computer.

  25. chanakya
    December 18, 2015 at 12:44 am

    hi guys,
    I had my windows 10 activated and running fine till yesterday when it did some major update automatically. And now it says Windows not activated. what's that about? Thanks! :-)


  26. dan
    December 16, 2015 at 6:21 am

    My Vista Home Premium OS would not boot and I lost all my data. What do you think the chances are that MS would allow me to upgrade to a free Win7/Win10 Home Premium license if I explain my case?


    • Jer
      January 16, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      No chance. You can reinstall Vista from the disk and keep using it or buy a new copy of Windows 7, 8.1, or 10 and use that. If you buy WIndows 7 or 8, you can then upgrade to 10 for free. I see copies online for $50 to $70.

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 22, 2016 at 10:14 pm

      I'm with Jer on this. No chance.

      • dan
        May 23, 2016 at 4:13 am

        Oddly enough, MS was generous enough to offer me a free copy of Windows 8 after I attempted to migrate to it a couple of years ago. Apparently my PC wasn't powerful enough but they still granted me a license!

  27. Ceej
    December 8, 2015 at 10:07 am

    I keep hearing all this about how your old license definantly wont be lost... but in practice thats exactly what is happening to many many people who absolutely do have a genuine windows install, im another one of these where i had an absolutely genuine copy of windows 7 ultimate , thanks to pretty much no changes to the system, but because the product key was on a label on the bottom of the machine, its now rubbed off. Followed all instructions, did the upgrade, and got the obligatory non genuine copy of windows crap. Thankfully its only an old backup machine because had my new machine borked after i upgraded from that Windows 8.1 abortion (thank god win10 came out about 2 days after i bought my laptop) i would have been absolutely livid.
    They might be making a big song and dance about everyone having the same version of windows and 'guaranteeing' youll be getting a genuine copy 'for free' but the reality is that its just not true in a lot of cases, and these people are being compared to pirates. Thankfully it will make zero difference whether the spare is activated or not, i guarantee anything that breaks will either be non critical or workarounds to whatever theyre trying to cripple will be available 5 minutes after theyre found.

    • Dave
      February 1, 2016 at 12:37 am

      If you don't have the product key because "the label on the bottom of the machine rubbed off", you probably should have made a backup. I take a photo of the product key stickers whenever I get a PC, and also write them down with pen and paper. If you didn't make a copy of the physical sticker, then run Belarc Advisor to display the product key from the hard drive.

  28. Anonymous
    November 27, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    I had OS 8.1 Pro Genuine (ASUS Laptop), didn't wont to upgrade immediately but in August the machine (Laptop) updated by itself to OS Windows 10 Pro. I have apps as Office 2013, Nero Express, Cyber Link Power DVD 14, Revo Uninstaller Pro 3.1.2 which licences I paid. After Update 1511 Windows 10 changed all keys so now I have both OS run at the same time but MOST IMPORTANT Windows Store doesn't work with error code 0x80131500 (CV:yF5x5wzX70iUqN28) (not available in your country!?) and Groove Music work but can't sign in. I made image for back up with all drivers and apps using Macrium Reflect. I'm allowed to download apps from sites I trust, so if anyone can help me out of this situation. Weather to clean up PC and delete Macrium and Windows.old or what. Also had several updates so in Settings is: Edition Windows 10 Pro Windows 10 Activated Version 1511 OS Build 10586.14 Product ID (---------) Product Key (----------)

  29. Anonymous
    November 27, 2015 at 1:10 am

    When I upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7, I couldn't connect to the Internet. And no matter what I tried to do to connect, I couldn't connect. So I went back to Windows 7. Has anyone had this type of issue with Windows 10?

  30. CNC machine
    November 22, 2015 at 12:58 am

    I have OEM version and it will not upgrade. It tells me I have invalid product key. Any solutions?

  31. Gianluca
    November 22, 2015 at 12:18 am

    Thanks for your information. I had my hdd broken so that I installed a clean windows 10 around mid October (winver.exe gives me 10.0 build 10240) and discovered this problem.
    Then I apply all the M$ updates released. Can I now activate my windows 10 using my Windows 7 code? Or must I reinstall with this particular build 1511 you are describing?
    Is this difficult to put this capacity inside the updated system?
    Because trying to change product key I'm getting 0xc004f050 error even after applying all the updates

    What a crap this operating system. I normally use Linux and trying to help my cousin and in the time I'm using on it I would have been able to install almost all the flavours of Linux... ;-)

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 22, 2016 at 10:09 pm

      Hi Gianluca. As you said, only the specified build (and those following it) will accept a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 license. It seems quite logical, and I agree it should have been there from the beginning.

  32. Fiat Lux
    November 21, 2015 at 6:01 am

    I also found this discussion pages and pages and pages long :

    HOW do I transfer windows (retail license) after upgrading to Windows 10?

    Discussion is a pure MESS and ranges from (and to) quotes like these :


    Vardhaman S replied on

    Microsoft Support Engineer

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for posting in Microsoft Community.

    You can’t transfer Windows 10 to new computer. However you can create recovery disk and install Windows 10 on the same computer multiple times.

    Hope this information helps.

    Thank you.

    Paul from London replied on

    Hi all, I have confirmed:

    The Windows 10 free upgrade is tied to the machine you activate it on. So even if the pre-existing OS was a full retail copy and it itself can be transferred to a new machine, the Windows 10 upgrade license won't transfer with it.

    So if you get totally new hardware, you can transfer your pre-existing OS to it, then upgrade it to Windows 10. That's free until July 29, 2016, or after that you'd have to buy an upgrade for (whatever that costs).

    That's not entirely true, I was told by MS a couple of days ago via their chat that if upgrading from a prior operating system that is allegeable for the free upgrade that is also a Retail Stand alone copy that it would be able to be transferred to a new system as long as you remove the old one first.

    Their exact words was "once you upgrade as a retail copy then it's good as a retail copy of windows 10" and that it was transferable as long as its removed from the previous device first.

    I asked them twice to confirm this and they said yes.

    That is why on the store page on your profile section you will see your devices where you can remove your existing PC from the list allowing you to install the retail copy onto the new system resulting in a new device being added to the list.

    And I am assuming this is their new way to transfer the retail licence from one device to another.

    They way I think it works is that when you do the first upgrade from either windows 7/8.1 to 10 it links to your MS account that you have a legit previous qualifying OS that you upgraded to 10 with and also stores the hardware ID that it created for that device.

    Now that info is used when you do a clean install and when it goes to validate it sees the same device id matches what they have in their database, now if you now install windows 10 on a new device consisting a new mother board, the new generated hardware id would mismatch like you said, however MS have added a way to remove the previous device that you last installed windows 10 on and when you remove your last windows 10 device you can/should be able to activate on the new device.



    Marcin ?ubgan replied on

    Good morning everyone,

    About transfering Windows 10 to another machine, I've received an answer from official polish Microsoft employee on

    Basically, there are two ways of performing an upgrade from qualifying OS to Windows 10 now (at this very moment):

    Free upgrade offer, valid for one year
    Full retail copy of Windows 10, bought from a store, used to perform an upgrade

    What Microsoft employee states is, as follows:

    If You upgraded Your qualifying OS to Windows 10 using free upgrade offer, then this version IS NOT TRANSFERABLE and qualifying OS license does not matter (basically, free upgrade offer does not give away Windows 10 product keys, thus no transfer is possible)
    If You upgraded using full retail copy of Windows 10, then this version is transferable (because You do have product code supplied with full retail Win10 copy, thus You can use it for re-activation when transfering)

    It seems - despite not being said in official Windows 10 EULA and contradicting to many people experience or answers they got from MS - that Windows 10 aquired through free upgrade offer is tied to machine, even if previous, upgrade-qualifying OS had full retail (box, standalone) license and had transfer rights.

    After upgrade via free upgrade offer, those transfer rights ARE GONE for Windows 10.

    That also implies, when Your motherboard dies after free upgrade validity period is over, You will have to buy retail copy of Windows 10 in order to continue using it.

    Below is the link to the thread (language used there is polish), if anyone is interrested to read for himself, questions and answers:

    Best regards,

    Marcin L

  33. Fiat Lux
    November 21, 2015 at 5:34 am

    Hello ,
    At they say that M.S. have changed attitude again! , so could you please tell me if this is true or if I still retain my 7 and 8.1 retail version rights ?

    Source :

    Quotes :

    "!Windows 7 and 8 retail users can't transfer Windows 10 after a year
    If you've got a retail version of Windows 7 or 8 and want to transfer it and your free Windows 10 upgrade to a new PC, you've got one year
    David Ludlow , 4 Aug 2015"

    "Unfortunately, once the Windows 10 upgrade year is off, Microsoft told us that you can no longer transfer the OS to a new computer. If you're planning to buy or build a new PC and transfer your copy of Windows 10 to it, you'll need to do it before the 29 July 2016 or you'll have to buy a new copy of the OS. Please note that this doesn't affect your existing Windows 7 or Windows 8 licence, and you can transfer either OS to a new computer; it's just that you can't run the upgrade.
    Chris Finnamore , @chrisfinnamore , 19 Nov 2015"

  34. Anonymous
    November 20, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    How very true.

  35. me
    November 19, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Wow what a lot of information for something that is an obscene nuisence for a legitimate purchaser.

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 22, 2016 at 10:06 pm

      I don't quite catch your drift. It is a lot of information, but it isn't really that complicated when you break it down. And if it is a legitimate purchaser or license holder, it should be (or should have been) an easy process.