We’ve received a lot of feedback from Insiders that it should be easier to activate Windows 10 on devices when taking advantage of the free upgrade offer from genuine versions of Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. With Build 10565+ of the Windows 10 Insider Preview on PCs, we’ve made some changes to activation. If your device doesn’t automatically activate after installation, you can now enter the product key that was used to activate the prior version of Windows on the same device, by going to Settings > Update & Security > Activation, and selecting Change Product Key. If you prefer a clean install of Windows 10 by booting from media, you can now also enter the product key from prior Windows versions on qualifying devices during setup. Insiders can find details about device activation improvements in the Insider Hub article here.
Now that we’ve made these changes to activation, we’d love for you to test them. Please provide feedback using the Windows Feedback App, and if you have a problem you need a solution for, please start a separate thread and post the question.
Common Questions and Answers around this new activation model:
Q: What type of Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 product keys can be used for activating Windows 10?
A: The following types of product key are supported:
Product keys that came with OEM Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 devices
Product keys that came with retail boxed copies of Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1
Product keys purchased from online retailers like Amazon
Product keys purchased using the Windows Anytime Upgrade wizard
Product keys purchased using the Get Genuine Windows wizard
Windows 8.1 Pro Pack product keys can activate Windows 10 Pro
The following types of product key are not supported:
Volume licensing product keys: GVLK or Multiple Activation Keys (MAK) are not supported
Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8 Enterprise or Windows 8.1 Enterprise product keys are not supported
Q: If I upgrade from my genuine qualifying Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 PC to Windows 10, do I need to enter my old product key?
A: No. Windows 10 introduced a new activation technology that uses “digital entitlements” (more information available at Activation in Windows 10) that doesn’t require product keys. Basically you no longer need to remember and enter product keys.
Q: I upgraded to Build 10565, and it shows that I’m not activated. How can I activate?
A: If you have installed build 10565 on your device and it is not activated for whatever reason, you can enter your Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 product key to activate your copy of Windows 10 by going to Settings > Update & security > Activation and selecting Change Product Key.
You must enter a product key that qualifies for the currently installed edition of Windows 10. Please see the upgrade editions table to determine the qualifying Windows 10 edition for your prior OS product key.
Q: I am upgrading from build 10240 or higher. Do I have to enter a product key to upgrade?
A: If you are upgrading an activated device and you are upgrading to the same edition of Windows 10, you will not be prompted for a product key.
If you are upgrading to a different edition, setup will prompt you for a product key. You cannot enter Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 keys in this scenario. To upgrade to a different edition of Windows 10, you’ll need to first install and activate the appropriate version of the down-level version of Windows. Please see the upgrade editions table to determine the qualifying Windows 10 edition for your prior OS product key.
Q: How do I activate a clean install of Build 10565 or higher?
A: For clean installs on a device that was previously activated using Build 10240 or higher, click the "I don't have a product key" button and your device will be activated automatically using the digital entitlement as long as you install the same edition of Windows 10 previously activated.
For clean installs on a device that had not previously installed build 10240 or higher, you can enter your Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 product key, provided that the key was previously used to activate Windows on this device. If Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 was pre-installed on your device by the OEM, you will not need to enter a product key -- the product key is provisioned in firmware and it will be used automatically in setup.
To determine when your device is activated with a digital entitlement, please see the Activation in Windows 10 article.
Q: My device came preinstalled with Windows, where can I find the product key?
A: For Windows 7 devices the product key is printed on a sticker attached to the device. For laptops the sticker is usually attached to the back of the laptop.
Windows 8 & Windows 8.1 devices have the product key provisioned in the firmware. Windows will read the product key from your device’s firmware and use it for activating.
Q: Can I use my Pro Pack product keys to activate Windows 10?
A: Yes. You can activate Windows 10 Pro using your Windows 8.1 Pro Pack product keys. These keys can also be used to clean install Windows 10 Pro.
Q: Can I activate Windows 10 using my Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 product key after the free upgrade offer has expired?
A: No, you cannot activate Windows 10 using your prior OS version product keys after the free upgrade offer expires. Any Windows 10 device activated during the free upgrade period will remain activated for the rest of the device’s lifetime.