Windows 10 product keys and activation - and the KMS angle

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  1. Posts : 79
    Windows 7, Windows 10, Linux Mint
       #1

    Windows 10 product keys and activation - and the KMS angle


    I have been a Windows 7 user and am now obviously being pushed to upgrade to Windows 10. I happen to have acquired a couple of second-hand laptops which already have Windows 10 installed. But I have a query about activation.

    One of these second-hand laptops is obviously an ex-corporate ThinkPad, sold with Win10 Pro installed. I have however discovered that the OS was apparently activated via the original business user, using the KMS system (with which I was unfamiliar). It looks as if - sometime in the next few months - that will be deactivated unless "renewed" by contact with a KMS server somewhere, which is obviously no longer possible. So I face the prospect of seeing the OS cease to function.

    I could of course replace that Win10 OS with Linux (which I have on other machines). But I am looking at another option. I also have a very small Acer netbook with modest CPU and RAM. It, too, has Win10 installed (possibly as an upgrade from the original Win7, I don't know). As far as I know this Windows installation in the Acer netbook is properly and legitimately activated. But Win10 struggles to run, as it clearly needs more resources than this little Acer can provide. So having Win10 on this small netbook is really not much use.

    So my question is: can I remove or uninstall Win10 from the Acer netbook, and somehow use it, or its product key, to reinstall or activate Win10 on the ThinkPad? I am not using Win10 on any additional computers: I just want to use the Win10 for which I have the proper key, on the ThinkPad instead of the Acer netbook.
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  2. Try3's Avatar
    Posts : 8,306
    Windows 10 Home x64 Version 21H1 Build 19043.1052
       #2

    Did your second-hand laptops originally have Windows 7?
    Do they have Windows "Certificates of authenticity" on them [the label, probably on the bottom, with the Windows 7 Product key on it]?

    If so then you can use that Product key to install & activate Windows 10.
    If it was originally Windows 8 rather than Windows 7, this tutorial can also be used.
    Directly Clean Install Windows 10 without having to Upgrade First - TenForumsTutorials
    The 'standard' upgrade tutorial's intro has some useful comments you might also like to look through Upgrade to Windows 10 - TenForumsTutorials

    I do not know how you might proceed if your second hand computers were originally supplied with Windows 10.

    Denis
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  3. Posts : 79
    Windows 7, Windows 10, Linux Mint
    Thread Starter
       #3

    Thanks Denis

    No joy, I fear. No CoA stickers on either. I'm not greatly surprised. The little Acer netbook (actually an Aspire One Happy) has a manufacturer serial number and date sticker showing it was built in 2011, but no indication of which Windows OS was originally installed. The Win10 now in place is showing as activated (and I guess I can get at the product key if I need to....)

    The second-hand ThinkPad has a Windows 8 brand-logo sticker underneath, but no CoA; and the computer settings/properties page has the information that 'Windows is activated using your organisation's activation service' (which is apparently the indication of the KMS scheme). Obviously I don't know who the first or corporate user of the ThinkPad was...
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  4. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,622
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #4

    br1anstorm said:
    The second-hand ThinkPad has a Windows 8 brand-logo sticker underneath, but no CoA..
    No, the CoA sticker went out with Windows 7. For Windows 8 and above the key is embedded in the bios firmware. That means you can clean install Windows 10 and it will activate from the embedded key, you won't even be asked for the key or which edition to install - Setup reads all that from the embedded key.

    Find out what yours is with: https://www.tenforums.com/software-a...howkeyplus.htm
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  5. Try3's Avatar
    Posts : 8,306
    Windows 10 Home x64 Version 21H1 Build 19043.1052
       #5

    The 2011 computer was probably Windows 7 originally but if the CoA has been removed I don't think you have anything to base a resolution on.

    I do not know enough about Windows 8 to comment on that one but the situation is, I think, explained in the tutorials. - I think they moved away from CoAs with Windows 8.

    Denis
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  6. Samuria's Avatar
    Posts : 6,190
    windows 10
       #6

    Its likely the kms ones are corporate so cant be used at home or its a pirate copy. In corporate they run a local kms server which license windows and the kms server contact MS with the number of activation which they then pay for. they have to contact the server ever X days to reactivate it cant be activated with MS
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  7. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,622
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #7

    Try3 said:
    I do not know how you might proceed if your second hand computers were originally supplied with Windows 10.
    All machines supplied with Win8 or Win10 pre-installed by the OEM have their product key embedded in the firmware. Just clean install Win10 and Setup will read this embedded key, using it to both choose the correct edition to install (Home or Pro) and to activate it.

    All my laptops were bought second hand, this particular Dell came with OEM Win7 installed (it was built a week or so before MS withdrew the W7 downgrade rights). I just wiped it and clean installed Win10....

    Windows 10 product keys and activation - and the KMS angle-w10-key-bios.png
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  8. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,622
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #8

    br1anstorm said:
    ...The little Acer netbook (actually an Aspire One Happy) has a manufacturer serial number and date sticker showing it was built in 2011, but no indication of which Windows OS was originally installed....
    Actually it had two OS: Windows 7 Starter and Android 2.1 (according to CNet)
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  9. Try3's Avatar
    Posts : 8,306
    Windows 10 Home x64 Version 21H1 Build 19043.1052
       #9

    Bree said:
    All machines supplied with Win8 or Win10 pre-installed by the OEM have their product key embedded in the firmware.
    So that would be in addition to the KMS-related activation the OP is concerned about replacing?

    Denis
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  10. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,622
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #10

    Try3 said:
    So that would be in addition to the KMS-related activation the OP is concerned about replacing?
    Yes, an embedded key in the firmware is completely independent of any corporate system image that has been applied. Typically organisations will buy laptops in bulk, wipe the pre-installed OS, then apply their own corporate system image, often a KMS one.

    The embedded W8/W8.1/W10 key is unique to that PC, and can always be used to do a clean install of Windows 10 on that PC.

    As an aside, another of my used Dells came with a corporate image of x86 W7 Enterprise installed (total waste of its 8GB RAM, x86 can only see 4GB). A clean install of Win10 found its embedded W8 Home key and used that to install and activate W10 Home x64.
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