Can I clean re-install Windows 10 after upgrading?

After doing a free upgrade to Windows 10, how do I clean install Windows 10 subsequently?

Once your device upgrades to Windows 10 using the free upgrade offer and activates online automatically, an entitlement is registered to your PC’s hardware for your edition of Windows 10.  (If you go to Settings  >> Update & Security >> Activation says “Windows is activated”.)  Now you will be able to clean install (i.e. boot from media and install Windows 10) the same edition of Windows 10 seamlessly without having to enter a product key.


  1. Make sure your PC is activated by going to the Settings >> Update & Security >> Activation. 
    If the activation has not completed, you can click the Activate Now button to complete the activation process. 
  2. Create your installation media for the appropriate edition of Windows 10 by clicking here.
  3. Skip entering the product key during Windows 10 Setup. Windows 10 will activate online automatically on such devices. The skip option is only available when booting from media and launching Windows 10 setup


The automatic online activation will occur seamlessly after clean installing Windows 10 if the device had previously upgraded and activated online, with the same edition of Windows 10.


If you followed the above steps and are experiencing Activation failures, click on Activate Now button in Settings – Update & Security – Activation. If your PC won’t activate, either you clean installed after upgrading without checking if the PC activated after upgrading or directly clean installed Windows 10 on a Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 PC.


You CANNOT activate Windows 10 using a Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 product key. Upgraded Windows 10 PCs do NOT use unique product keys for Activation – all upgraded Windows 10 PCs use the same generic product key that activates ONLY if you launched upgrade while booted in your Windows 7/8 system.


Keep in mind that if the hardware configuration of your Windows 10 device changes significantly (e.g. motherboard change) Windows 10 may require re-activation on the device. This is the same experience as prior versions of Windows (e.g. Windows 7 and Windows 8.1) and you’ll need to contact Support.

Vinod Archak
Forum Moderator

64 people found this reply helpful

Was this reply helpful?


Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for your feedback.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback.


Question Info

Last updated May 23, 2021 Views 119,861 Applies to: