Windows 10: What happens with my retail licenses after July 29, 2016 ?
What happens with my retail licenses after July 29, 2016 ?
I have both Windows 7 and 8.x retail licenses.
They have now been used up by upgrading to Windows 10 (both as hosts and as vm's).
A few questions:
1) Where can I find Microsoft information as to what will happen with these licenses after July 29, 2016, i.e. after the free upgrade period?
2) Say, I have created an .iso (using Media Creation Tool) just before this date and use that for all future (clean) re-installs* after the expiry date, will that work?
(* as long as there are no hardware changes)
3) In case of a hardware failure (or replacing a HDD with a SSD) after the free upgrade period and a clean install obviously is necessary, then presumably one has to buy a new (retail) license?
(or return to Windows 7 or 8 as likely those product keys are still valid for those Windows versions?)
You have digital entitlement to transfer the upgraded Windows 10 licences to any compatible new hardware indefinitely. Keep a record of the Windows 7 or 8 product keys safe though.
The current means of transfer is to enter the Windows 7 or 8 Retail or COA key as the qualifying product key in the Windows 10 setup for builds 10565 up to build 10586 (November update 1511).
You are unlikely to have to reinstall Windows 7 or 8 in future, in order to perform a new upgrade to Windows 10.
This may change over the period until and beyond July 29 2016, and you should be informed of these changes through notifications to your system, and indeed, here on TenForums.
The way that Microsoft wants you to register your entitlement is to sign in from your Windows 10 computers with your Microsoft account. This is probably a good idea, to do at least once, but you do not need to do this all the time. Using a local account will still allow you to receive all official updates, as long as you are activated.
Many thanks for your elaborate reply. To my understanding, but most probably I am wrong...
- Microsoft is not giving away Windows 10 licenses based on 7/8.x keys,
- Windows 10 upgrade is activated based on the hardware used (I can't find a Windows 10 upgrade key)
What I mean to say:
after July 29, 2016 and buying new hardware:
- I can not use the 7/8.x keys to upgrade (free upgrade period expired)
- I don't have the 'W10 upgrade key'
So after July 29 2016 the 7/8.x keys became nul and void.
I know about the 1511/10586 update, I have been using that for installing vm's.
Whilst creating these I entered the Windows 7 prod.key. and used the 10586 iso (likely the activation server is checking the guest hardware (vm), not the host hardware)
Nonsense. There is no such thing as registering your digital entitlement with a Microsoft account. Having and using a Microsoft account has NOTHING to do with the Windows 10 activation process.
tfwul, this is the way Windows 10 activation is currently working:
There are two types of Windows 10 activations, product key and entitlement. Product key is pretty much the same as it always has been and applies when you have actually purchased your own unique product key for Windows 10. If you purchase your own unique Windows 10 product key you have to enter it each time you install Windows 10 and that provides your activation. But that isn't what you are really asking about.
The other activation is a digital entitlement that is stored on Microsoft activation servers and has nothing to do with having a Microsoft account. The digital entitlement is created when a previous Windows 7/8/8.1 is upgraded to Windows 10. With the new November update to Windows 10 the entitlement to upgrade to Windows 10 for free can be verified in several ways.
The first way is to do an in place upgrade of an installed Windows 7/8/8.1 (either via Windows update, or by a downloaded Windows 10). During the upgrade a program called gatherosstate is ran on the previous operating system creating a file called genuineticket.xml. This xml files carries over to the Windows 10 installation and that file provides the initial request for activation that gets passed to Microsoft activation servers along with a matching unique computer hardware ID. The Microsoft activation server grants the activation and stores it along with the unique computer hardware ID. The hardware ID is calculated by Windows 10 and each computer (each motherboard, really) will have a unique hardware ID. That is how activations get "registered", not through your Microsoft account.
The November update allows an activation to be created by the product key alone from Windows 7/8/8.1. The product key can be entered manually, or Windows 10 can read a product key stored in computer bios during installation. When Windows 10 activation is requested by using a Windows 7/8/8.1 product key, that activation request is passed to Microsoft servers as a digital entitlement request just like the in-place upgrade activations are and the activation is granted and stored by the Microsoft Activation server along with the matching unique hardware ID. Nothing physically happens to the Windows 7/8/8.1 product key after upgrading to Windows 10. You are still able to use it legally in accordance with the previous EULA (License Agreement) and the Windows 10 EULA (IE, can't use the old Windows 7/8/8.1 and the new Windows 10 at the same time). But Microsoft does not deactivate the old Windows 7/8/8.1 product key in any way.
When you get a digital entitlement through an upgrade you do get a Windows 10 product key, but it is generic. Everyone gets the same product key for the same version of Windows 10 coming from an upgrade. There is one good use for the Pro generic product key. If you have a computer that originally had Windows 8 Home and the product key for Windows 8 Home is stored in bios and you purchased the Windows 8 Pro upgrade. If you do an in-place upgrade from Windows 8 Pro to Windows 10, you will get Windows 10 Pro just like you should. BUT, if you later do a clean install of Windows 10 on the same computer, the first thing that Windows 10 will use is the Windows 10 Home product key stored in bios and you will get Windows 10 Home installed and activated based on the product key in bios. Currently Windows 10 Home will not accept the Windows 8 (or 7) Pro product key to upgrade to Windows 10 Home to Pro. But it will accept the Windows 10 Pro generic product key to trigger the upgrade. Then the Windows 10 Pro will go to the Microsoft activation server and retrieve the previous activation for Pro stored on it by sending the unique hardware ID and matching it with the hardware ID already stored there.
Now, fast forward to after July 27, 28 or 29, 2016. It is pretty much the motherboard that determines a computer's unique Hardware ID. We will call July 27, 28 or 29, 2016 "expiry" for simplicity, meaning the end of the free upgrade period. After expiry, when you do an upgrade from Windows 7/8/8.1 or a clean install of Windows 10 without a purchased and unique Windows 10 product key, Windows 10 will pass the Hardware ID of the computer (really the motherboard) to the Microsoft activation server and if there is a matching Hardware ID with an activation stored for the same version of Windows 10 (Home or Pro) the activation will be retrieved and Windows 10 will be activated.
If you have a new motherboard that did not have a previous activation stored on Microsoft servers, the same activation request generated by Windows 10 will get sent to Microsoft activation servers. Since the unique hardware ID will not match one stored on the server, the server will deny the request for activation. At this point there will be two options for you. You can enter a unique Windows 10 product key to convert the activation to a product key activation. Or you can call Microsoft and they can grant the activation request approval. Whether or not Microsoft grants transfer of a digital entitlement to a new computer will be based on what they decide to do then.
All that happens on the expiry date is Microsoft turns off the ability of the Microsoft activation servers to grant new digital entitlements automatically and each new digital entitlement will have to be approved manually. All digital entitlements already stored on the Microsoft activation servers based upon Hardware ID and version of Windows will remain unaffected. Hopefully this cleared it up for you.
Currently there have been a few users who have contacted Microsoft with the concern of transferring their full retail Windows 7/8/8.1 licenses to Windows 10 full retail licenses. They have stated that in the future (after expiry) they should be entitled to transfer Windows 10 to new computers just like they would be able to transfer their old Windows 7/8/8.1 to new computers. Microsoft has responded to them by simply providing them with a unique Windows 10 product key that can be used to achieve product key activation of Windows 10 instead of a digital entitlement.
Last edited by NavyLCDR; 25 Nov 2015 at 07:07.
Many many thanks for your elaborate reply!
I truly appreciate your taking the time to explain things in depth.
Whilst assuming that I may not the only one wondering about what may happen with their Windows 7/8.x licenses after the free upgrade period, it may worthwhile considering to have this explanation saved as a 'locked post' somewhere on the TenForums.
Maybe titled 'What happens with your license(s) after July 2016' (or something like that)
Obviously it's just an idea but it's upto you and the administrator to decide.
Anyway, once again : many thanks indeed!
Yes the clean install is valid for the life of the machine. One only has to buy a new license for a new machine. A new machine is defined as a new motherboard.
Windows 10 doesn't use a product key per say it uses a hash number based on your hardware. This is used so when you do a clean install you don't have to enter a key. When you do a clean install it verifies this hash number and activates Windows 10. Each machine will have a unique has number. If you change a moherboard the hash number won't match and Windows 10 won't activate without call MS. If you buy a new copy of Windows 10 either OEM or retail is will have a Windows 10 specific key. But as long as your machine doesn't change mother board you can do cleans installs forever.
a) after the upgrade and activation, there is no need to enter any product key anymore, as long as the hardware doesn't change
b) same applies after the expiry of the upgrade
c) in case of hardware changes, it becomes a little vague. meaning,
a new motherboard, graphics card and harddisks = no doubt a new license is required : too many hardware changes
same goes for an entirely new pc.
but what when adding e.g. a PCI SSD to become the new drive for Windows.
Maybe thru this 9 blocks of 7 digits method (phone activation)
As VM I am still a bit unsure - successfully activated 2 W10 VM's, whilst using the purchased key (on the DVD-box). Maybe VMware Workstation passes on host hardware info when activating. Really wouldn't know.
If you like, there's more information and links about this in the yellow tip box at the top of the tutorial below.
Activate Windows 10
Looks like the preview (insider) program will be ongoing for the foreseeable future
Build 10532 (the latest) is set to expire on 16 JULY 2016 so nice long testing periods.
I own 2 notebooks:
The first one (the older one), with the following upgrade history:
Windows 7 OEM -> Upgraded to Windows 8.1 PRO with a bought and legitimate license -> Upgraded to Windows 10 PRO with free Micorsoft upgrade.
what is nor explicit for me is :
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