How to install and activate Windows 10 using your Windows 7 or Windows 8 product key

Technical Level : Basic

Summary
Microsoft recently announced the first major update to Windows 10 which includes numerous improvements for end users and businesses. One of the welcome improvements is the compliance check when qualifying for the Windows 10 upgrade. Previously, Windows 7, Windows 8.0 and Windows 8.1 users needed to have either of those versions Windows installed and activated in order to qualify for the free upgrade offer. For persons who needed to perform a clean install of Windows 10 from the outset, it was a two step process of first validating the machine through the upgrade routine, ensure the Windows 10 Upgrade was activated, then proceed to perform a Reset. With the latest November Update (1511), users no longer have to go through this process. In this article, we take a look at how to install and activate Windows 10 using your Windows 7 or Windows 8 product key.
Details

For the purposes of this article, I am using a Windows 7 license to perform clean install using Windows 10.

Please note: The copy of Windows 10 you download must correspond with the edition of Windows you are licensed for:

  • Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Windows 8.0 Core, Windows 8.1 Core must use a Windows 10 Home ISO
  • Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8.0 Pro, Windows 8.1 Pro must use a Windows 10 Pro ISO
  • If you are using Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8.0 Enterprise, Windows 8.1 Enterprise editions you won't be able to use the free upgrade offer.

Review complete instructions how to download the Windows 10 ISO in the following article:

How to download official Windows 10 ISO files

Review instructions here how to start a clean install if you desire, if you want to perform an upgrade, click here.

Have your Windows 7 or 8/8.1 product key ready. If you purchased a retail license, you can find the product key within the product box. The Windows 7 product key is normally found on an orange sticker attached to a pamphlet inside the box. The Windows 8/8.1 product key is found on a small business size card. See examples below. Please note, you can also use your OEM product key too if Windows came preinstalled on your computer.

Retail:

Windows 8/8.1

If your computer came preinstalled with an OEM version of Windows 7, look for the Certificate of Authenticity sticker attached to the chassis of your computer. Normally this can be at the side or top of the system unit. For laptops, look at the bottom of the chassis or inside the battery or memory compartment. It looks like the following:

If you are running an OEM preinstalled Windows 8/8.1 license, Windows 10 setup should automatically detect the product key and install it automatically.

With Windows 8, Microsoft had changed from stickers that have the product key that the user has to type in when installing the operating system to new BIOS embedded product keys. The idea is that by eliminating the sticker, you eliminate one of the easier ways for nefarious users to get a legitimate product key. Eliminating the product key sticker also removes any worry that the sticker might get damaged while at the same time eliminating the long and irritating process of typing in various letters and numbers when installing the operating system.

If the user has to reinstall the operating system on a machine that came with Windows 8, the installation process automatically grabs the software product key from the motherboard BIOS with no input from the user. This means that those familiar Windows product key stickers will no longer appear on the Windows 8 computers.

If you have lost your Windows product key, Microsoft recommends you purchase a new one. 

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/where-find-windows-product-key#where-find-windows-product-key=windows-7

You might be lucky by contacting Microsoft Support who might be sympathetic to your situation:
http://support2.microsoft.com/kb/326246/en-us

Contact the Microsoft store:
US: http://www.store.microsoft.com/Help/Contact-Us
1-877-696-77861-877-696-7786 FREE
Canada: https://www.microsoftstore.ca/shop/en-CA/Contact-Us

Microsoft Support Contact Information:
http://support.microsoft.com/contactus/?ws=support

General Microsoft contact site: http://support.microsoft.com/contactus#tab0

If you are prompted to enter a product key during Windows 10 setup (November Update aka 1511) from within a running version of Windows, your Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 product key will not work. Instead, you should activate your Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 first, then re-run Windows 10 setup. You will not be prompted to enter a product key.

During Setup: If you are prompted to enter a product key when you boot from the Windows 10 setup installation media, click the option 'I don't have a product key'. Select the appropriate edition you are licensed for.

Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Windows 8.0 Core, Windows 8.1 Core will install Windows 10 Home ISO

  • Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8.0 Pro, Windows 8.1 Pro will install Windows 10 Pro ISO

  • Out of Box Experience, if you are prompted for a product key, Click Do this Later.

    Complete the installation

    Review instructions how to activate

    How to troubleshoot Product Activation in Windows 10

    Suppose I decide to reinstall Windows 7 or Windows 8?

    You can reinstall or restore a system image of your previous version of Windows and continue using it, this will not affect the validity of the license.

    If you continue to experience problems entering your product key:

    Click Start > Settings (press Windows key + i) > Update & security > Activation then click Change product key

    OR

    Press Windows key + X

    Click Command Prompt (Admin)

    At the command prompt, type the following commands:

    slmgr.vbs -ipk xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx (allows you to replace the current product key with the specified)

    xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx - represents your product key

    Hit Enter on your keyboard

    Exit the command prompt

    Restart your computer

    Wait a while and it should activate, if not, give it a few days.

    Resources:

    How to Activate and resolve common Product key issues in Windows 10

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    Forum Article Info


    Last updated December 7, 2019 Views 427,901 Applies to:

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    May I burn an iso from Insider Build Version 1511 (OS Build 10586.6) Pro ESD from my test computer.  Then clean install to SSD on another computer.  I have 8.1 Pro upgrade.  Use 8 pro key and lose Media Center?

    Best,
    Andre
    Windows Insider MVP
    MVP-Windows and Devices for IT
    twitter/adacosta
    groovypost.com

    If your computer came preinstalled with an OEM version of Windows 7, look for the Certificate of Authenticity sticker attached to the chassis of your computer. Normally this can be at the side or top of the system unit. For laptops, look at the bottom of the chassis or inside the battery or memory compartment. It looks like the following:

    sorry  i didn't understand that i didn't find it at side or on the top where shall i find it

    Yes, you can do that.

    How to: Create a bootable ISO file from your Windows 10 Download for reinstallation

    Thanks.  I used this:

    ESDtoISO (Build 10158 and later)

    http://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/2570-esd-iso-create-bootable-iso-windows-10-esd-file.html

    to download click this on the page above bit.ly/TenForums

    Have a problem with a win 8 machine which was used during the Insider program which I clean installed during the two weeks between  Insider 240 and RTM 240 which means that the machine will not activate. I do not have a win8 key as there is no sticker.  Has this situation been sorted ?

    Quote ---

    If the user has to reinstall the operating system on a machine that came with Windows 8, the installation process automatically grabs the software product key from the motherboard BIOS with no input from the user. This means that those familiar Windows product key stickers will no longer appear on the Windows 8 computers.

    end Quote -----

    With build 1511, that issue should also be resolved although I am going to be honest, I have not tested it but others have confirmed. I am going to link you to some resources for more information:

    Updating your (UEFI) BIOS and Optimising (UEFI) BIOS Settings for Windows 10 TH2:

    http://dellwindowsreinstallationguide.com/updating-the-bios/

    This also has a tutorial video.

     

    Download Windows 10 TH2 OEM and Retail .iso:

    http://dellwindowsreinstallationguide.com/download-windows-10-oem-and-retail-iso/

    I am planning to make a tutorial video of this.

     

    Download Windows 10 TH2 OEM and Retail .iso Direct Links for Older Versions of Windows and Linux:

    http://dellwindowsreinstallationguide.com/download-microsoft-windows/download-windows-10-th2-and-prepare-a-bootable-usb-on-linux/

    Best,
    Andre
    Windows Insider MVP
    MVP-Windows and Devices for IT
    twitter/adacosta
    groovypost.com

    Just a warning - Microsoft Support had said to me that the 586 release has a problem - I know it hangs part way through on my ASUS t100ta - a win 8 tablet when new. The nov update does not run on this hardware. TRY the update first from win update before trying to use the create media option.

    Do you have a link to the 10240 creation tool - the "Answer Desk" can not access it anymore - I have a dead computer no OS and no access to create the media to reload.

    The "Answer Desk" can only access the latest 10586 - and as you can see from my post this has killed my machine so need to go back to 10240.

    Many Thanks if you have

    Peter G

    Any idea why a new upgrade to 10 from 7 would prompt for a product key?

    Every computer I upgraded to 10 did so smoothly, and I was never prompted for a product key. I am trying to upgrade another so it will network with the rest, and it wants a product key. My 7 key doesn't work. There is no do this later button. Where do I go from here?

    If you are experiencing problems activating using either your Windows 7, Windows 8.0 or Windows 8.1 product key, contact chat support:

    Activate Your Windows 10 License via Microsoft Chat Support

    Best,
    Andre
    Windows Insider MVP
    MVP-Windows and Devices for IT
    twitter/adacosta
    groovypost.com

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