Windows 10 product keys and activation - and the KMS angle

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  1. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 15,659
    Windows 10 Pro
       #41

    br1anstorm said:
    - That rather leads me towards the alternative suggestion made by NavyLCDR: that instead of persisting with a clean install that seems not to be possible, I could try a different way of (re) activating the existing Win 10 by using the different key suggested. I hesitate to ask for an explanation of what that key is and why it might work. But right now I'm not sure there are any other possible ways forward.
    Changing the product key to the generic Windows 10 product key will reset activation to the standard retail channel for activation. It might just activate (if there was a previous digital license for Windows 10 for that computer established with Microsoft). Once Windows 10 is back on the retail activation channel, then more than likely changing the product key to the Windows 8 product key using the same method may work.
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  2. alphanumeric's Avatar
    Posts : 14,216
    Windows 10 IoT
       #42

    When you enter the key, your entering the OEM Key: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-GMQH2 key right?

    As near as I can remember, even though my embedded key stopped being detected. It wasn't rejected when entered manually. I'm almost positive I did that at least once as a test. That laptop already had a DL for 10 Home though. It has DL's for just about every edition of Windows 10. A result of my days as an MVP and testing different editions.
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  3. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,655
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #43

    br1anstorm said:
    ...right now I'm not sure there are any other possible ways forward.

    There are always other possible ways forward.

    If @alphanumeric can tell us how old a build of W10 was needed to successfully read the embedded key, then you could run the MCT Wrapper tool from post #39 to make an install usb for that build.


    Or how about clean installing W8.1? I'd be very surprised if that didn't see the embedded W8 key. An activated W8 could then be upgraded to W10 and get a digital licence. You could then clean install W10 and skip entering a key when asked, it would activate from the existing digital licence.

    Microsoft no longer provide the MCT for W8.1, but it can still be downloaded from the Internet Archive Wayback Machine's archived copy of the MS download page.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20151006...nload/windows8
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  4. Superfly's Avatar
    Posts : 3,357
       #44

    I just tested a Win 8 RTM Professional OEM key on clean install and got the same issue.

    Windows 10 product keys and activation - and the KMS angle-image.png

    It is accepted in the change Product Key dialogue, however.
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  5. Posts : 79
    Windows 7, Windows 10, Linux Mint
    Thread Starter
       #45

    Bree said:
    There are always other possible ways forward. ....

    Or how about clean installing W8.1? I'd be very surprised if that didn't see the embedded W8 key. An activated W8 could then be upgraded to W10 and get a digital licence. You could then clean install W10 and skip entering a key when asked, it would activate from the existing digital licence.

    Microsoft no longer provide the MCT for W8.1, but it can still be downloaded from the Internet Archive Wayback Machine's archived copy of the MS download page.
    Bree - I admire and appreciate your positivity! Even though (having latterly spent much more time using Linux, which is a breeze [no pun intended!]) I can't help feeling that by comparison, getting a Windows OS installed and functioning is a bit of a labyrinth - or obstacle course!

    I'm intrigued by the idea of going for a clean install of Win 8 and then upgrading. It certainly is another possible route to try. So I'm downloading the Win 8 ISO from that archive site in preparation. I'll then need to check whether the actual clean install process for Win 8 is any different. Is there a separate tutorial and process? It looks as if the "tool" [MCT] for Win 8 is no longer available - which leaves me wondering how I use a downloaded ISO for a clean install. Does the MCT I downloaded for Win 10 work for a Win 8 ISO? And after that, assuming Win 8 does get activated (I'm taking nothing for granted!) , I then have to tackle the upgrade to Win 10.

    But this post from Superfly has got me a bit worried.

    Superfly said:
    I just tested a Win 8 RTM Professional OEM key on clean install and got the same issue..... It is accepted in the change Product Key dialogue, however.
    Rather suggests that even activating Win 8 with my embedded OEM key is not guaranteed. I deduce however that after a clean install of Win 8, if it works, there is an option to change Product Key (and activate...) thereafter. Then after that, the upgrade to Win 10. A long and winding road indeed!
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  6. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 15,659
    Windows 10 Pro
       #46

    Why not just change your existing Windows 10 Product Key?
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  7. Posts : 79
    Windows 7, Windows 10, Linux Mint
    Thread Starter
       #47

    NavyLCDR said:
    Why not just change your existing Windows 10 Product Key?
    Yup, fair question. I like keeping it simple! Is a key-change guaranteed to work? If not, is it possible to revert/undo? Part of the problem is that because the ThinkPad in question is second-hand, I have absolutely no knowledge of its history. We've established that it had Win 8 as OEM, and has an embedded key But I have no idea where the currently-installed KMS-activated Win 10 came from and whether or what kind of "retail" licence key (if any) may be saved and on what servers.

    Presumably there is a chance that as a corporate laptop it may never have had a "retail" licence at all? As I've noted separately, this licensing/activation framework is an absolute labyrinth to a simple user like me.
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  8. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,655
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #48

    br1anstorm said:
    I'm intrigued by the idea of going for a clean install of Win 8 and then upgrading. It certainly is another possible route to try. So I'm downloading the Win 8 ISO from that archive site in preparation. I'll then need to check whether the actual clean install process for Win 8 is any different. Is there a separate tutorial and process?
    Yes, Brink has a tutorial for that over on the sister-site Eight Forums. Much the same as for W10....

    Clean Install - Windows 8 | Windows 8 Help Forums
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  9. Superfly's Avatar
    Posts : 3,357
       #49

    br1anstorm said:
    Yup, fair question. I like keeping it simple! Is a key-change guaranteed to work? If not, is it possible to revert/undo? Part of the problem is that because the ThinkPad in question is second-hand, I have absolutely no knowledge of its history. We've established that it had Win 8 as OEM, and has an embedded key But I have no idea where the currently-installed KMS-activated Win 10 came from and whether or what kind of "retail" licence key (if any) may be saved and on what servers.

    Presumably there is a chance that as a corporate laptop it may never have had a "retail" licence at all? As I've noted separately, this licensing/activation framework is an absolute labyrinth to a simple user like me.
    No need to worry.

    Enter your Win 8 key in the change product key dialogue under Activation settings - nothing bad will happen - it should by rights accept it and activate to a digital licence when online.
    Once the digital licence is obtained you can clean install and skip entering a key as it will activate with the digital licence
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  10. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 15,659
    Windows 10 Pro
       #50

    Changing the product key to the generic product key for Windows 10 Pro is 99% guaranteed to move activation to the standard retail activation channel. Then if it doesn't activate just from that, then changing the product key to the Windows 8 is almost guaranteed to activate. If for some reason it doesn't then you will know the Windows 8 product key will not activate Windows 10 directly.

    You can use @Superfly's method or mine, either or both.
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