Clean install using USB, cannot verify key as no network

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  1. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 15,508
    Windows 10 Pro

    merpman2001 said:
    "Product keys are attached to the motherboard-ID" This is for OEM only though right ? Full version you can still switch hardware ?
    It depends upon which type of activation you have which depends upon the method by which you achieved activation.

    Two examples:

    1. You do an in place upgrade from Windows 7/8/8.1 to Windows 10. The Windows 10 will create it's own activation based upon the genuineticket.xml file created during the upgrade (the license for the previous OS, not the product key) and use the generic product key that everyone gets for an upgrade. It will push that activation along with the hardware ID to Microsoft activation servers for future use. That is called a digital entitlement. If you have such a digital entitlement stored on MS activation servers then no product key is required in the future because Windows 10 will retrieve the license from Microsoft using the hardware ID. (In layman's terms, "tied to the motherboard"). This type of activation cannot be moved from computer to computer (or motherboard to motherboard) because there is no unique product key to generate a new activation with.

    2. You purchase a Windows 10 Product Key for a new computer that has never had Windows 7/8/8.1 on it. You activate Windows 10 by entering your purchased Product Key. This type of activation is just like the old activations - it retrieves a license from Microsoft activation servers based upon the unique product key entered. This is called a Product Key activation and is not stored on Microsoft activation servers (although they do track the number of times and frequency that product key is used). Each time Windows 10 is re-installed, the product key will have to be entered for activation.
      My Computer

  2. Posts : 7
    MacOSX 10.9 ... WindowsX

    merpman2001 said:
    "Product keys are attached to the motherboard-ID" This is for OEM only though right ? Full version you can still switch hardware ?
    Sorry for the delay.
    Yes, if you buy a Windows-10 license that will NOT be attached to a motherboard.

    If you previously bought a separate win-7/8 license, you might even "move" a free win-10-upgrade (internet, or saved on USB stick / DVD) to a new PC/motherboard but would first have to install your win-7/8 before doing the upgrade to win-10.

    Btw: It was mentioned in the article that MS promised free win-10 updates for one year - leaving it open what will happen thereafter.
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  3. spapakons's Avatar
    Posts : 2,891
    Windows 10 Pro 64-bit 202H (Nov 2020 build 19042.867)

    After the year they will probably remove the offer and force anyone to buy Windows 10 if he hasn't yet upgraded. I cannot blame them, we are given the chance for one year. If we miss it, it is our fault, not theirs.

    So if you upgrade from a previous version or use the utility to create the GenuineTicket.xml file then your activation data are stored in Microsoft's server and you can clean-install Windows 10 on the same hardware without using a key (click skip). This means using the same version (Home or Pro) based on the previous Windows version. In that case you can change most of the hardware (better not all at the same time) but changing the motherboard would make automatic activation impossible. Then you would have to call Microsoft, explain that you upgraded your system, and they might be kind enough and activate you again.

    If you buy a retail Windows 10 version, you have to enter the key when asked. A retail version can auto-activate 2-3 times (as long as there aren't many changes to the original hardware) and then you have to do it by phone. If they see on their records that it is your 5th or greater attempt to activate the same key, they will be suspicious that you may give it to friends and start asking you questions like in how many computers you have installed it etc. You will have to convince them that you are legitimate and they might activate it one last time. Next time forget it! With a retail key you can do as many changes as in the first case (anything but motherboard) with the difference that it will activate 1-2 times online and you won't have to call Microsoft for a small change. If you overdo it with upgrades to the hardware, you may be forced to buy a new license! So don't! A regular user will upgrade his computer once or twice and then buy a new one. It is certainly not common to upgrade it once every few months and it will draw suspicion.
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