Windows 10: Activation switched from "with product key" to "with Digital License"

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  1.    08 Aug 2016 #21

    Slartybart said: View Post
    I have not tested this, but there are statements re: MSA and Local accounts: Change the sign-in to a local account and the digital license is gone. It doesn't make sense to me, but I've seen it in a few places (sorry, no citation).
    Not for me - I just tried it.

    With MSA it says "Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account". Change to local and it just drops the words "linked to your Microsoft account". Change back and they come back again.

    My understanding is linking to MSA helps with moving you license that is all (as you said).

    I actually just did a clean install (using a local account) after being activated using a MSA and it activated fine so I'm pretty sure changing to local account doesn't mean you lose your license.

    Perhaps the original machine would lose the license if you transferred it to a new machine but I don't know as I've not tried that.
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  2. Posts : 3,506
    Win_8.1-Pro, Win_10.1607-Pro, Mint_17.3
       08 Aug 2016 #22

    lx07 said: View Post
    Not for me - I just tried it.

    With MSA it says "Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account". Change to local and it just drops the words "linked to your Microsoft account". Change back and they come back again.

    My understanding is linking to MSA helps with moving you license that is all (as you said).
    Thanks for testing that ... it makes sense.

    Windows is activated with a digital license
    or
    Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account

    I'll look (but not too hard) for a reference - it might be what I read was Insider comments before 2 August.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  3.    08 Aug 2016 #23

    My understanding is the Digital Entitlement is the mechanism that gives you your Digital License. I think they are one in the same.

    I have run 10 Home, 10 Pro, 10 Education and 10 Enterprise on my laptop and main desktop PC. Home and Pro were upgrades via the free upgrade offer and showed as licensed with a digital license. I'm pretty sure it said "license", not 100% sure though. Education and Enterprise would always show activated with a product code. I had to enter key to activate those two versions.

    After the Anniversary update Education switched to activated with a digital license. Now I can install it with a skip key and it will activate. Before the Anniversary update that was not possible.
    Enterprise can never be activated with a digital license. MAK and VL keys are the only options for it.

    My laptop has a Windows 8.0 core key. On a clean install, 10 Home is automatically installed with no choice in the matter. That's how it got a Home entitlement. It was originally upgraded from 8.1 Pro to 10 Pro via the free upgrade and got a Pro entitlement. I hadn't planed for it to have both. It wasn't intentional.

    My desktop ended up that way due to testing an upgrade from an Windows 7 OEM Home Premium install. It was done after the free upgrade had officially ended, but upgraded anyway to 10 Home. That PC was originally upgraded from 8.1 Pro to 10 Pro so now it has Home, Pro and Education Entitlements.

    Both PC's only ever have one OS installed and running on them at any one time so they are only ever using one license each. I have no idea how Microsoft keeps track of that?
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  4.    08 Aug 2016 #24

    And here's a twist. What if a second user logs into the computer with their Microsoft Account? :-). I'll bet the activation screen says that the computer is activated with a digital license associated with that users Microsoft Account.
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  5.    08 Aug 2016 #25

    NavyLCDR said: View Post
    And here's a twist. What if a second user logs into the computer with their Microsoft Account? :-). I'll bet the activation screen says that the computer is activated with a digital license associated with that users Microsoft Account.
    I wondered about that too. The only PC here that might have two accounts on it is my wife's laptop? I can't remember if I actually setup my account on it? Would be easy enough to add it. Then see what happens when I upgrade it to 1607. That won't happen until early tomorrow morning. She's a late riser so that's when I'll play with it. She's off and on Facebook during the day and stays up late. I'll post back what I uncover in the process.
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  6. Posts : 3,506
    Win_8.1-Pro, Win_10.1607-Pro, Mint_17.3
       08 Aug 2016 #26

    alphanumeric said: View Post
    My understanding is the Digital Entitlement is the mechanism that gives you your Digital License. I think they are one in the same.

    My laptop has a Windows 8.0 core key. On a clean install, 10 Home is automatically installed with no choice in the matter. That's how it got a Home entitlement. It was originally upgraded from 8.1 Pro to 10 Pro via the free upgrade and got a Pro entitlement. I hadn't planed for it to have both. It wasn't intentional.

    My desktop ended up that way due to testing an upgrade from an Windows 7 OEM Home Premium install. It was done after the free upgrade had officially ended, but upgraded anyway to 10 Home. That PC was originally upgraded from 8.1 Pro to 10 Pro so now it has Home, Pro and Education Entitlements.

    Both PC's only ever have one OS installed and running on them at any one time so they are only ever using one license each. I have no idea how Microsoft keeps track of that?
    MS simply changed Entitlement to License in their terminology. Entitlement was used during the free upgrade period, but now that's over and you're not entitled to Win10 any more, you have to license it.

    What does slmgr /dlv tell you about the licensing on machines that show multiple licenses on the activation screen?
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  7.    08 Aug 2016 #27

    I've gotten the impression this is normal and simply means your system info is stored on MS servers so you can install Win10 again in the future without needing a product key. All three of my systems now show digital license.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  8.    08 Aug 2016 #28

    Slartybart said: View Post
    MS simply changed Entitlement to License in their terminology. Entitlement was used during the free upgrade period, but now that's over and you're not entitled to Win10 any more, you have to license it.

    What does slmgr /dlv tell you about the licensing on machines that show multiple licenses on the activation screen?
    That's as good an explanation as any.

    slmgr /dlv just shows me the info for the currently installed OS. Not sure what you mean by multiple licenses on the activation screen? Which activation screen? I may not reply to this until tomorrow. My chronic pain has spiked and it won't be long before I have to call it quits for the night.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  9.    08 Aug 2016 #29

    bfunke said: View Post
    I've gotten the impression this is normal and simply means your system info is stored on MS servers so you can install Win10 again in the future without needing a product key. All three of my systems now show digital license.
    Yes that's essentially correct. However, before the anniversary edition was released, systems with Windows 10 installed with a retail product code would show as activated with a product code. Only systems that did the free upgrade got a digital entitlement. Now, it looks like just about any PC activated running the anniversary edition gets a digital entitlement. Retail key or not. My activation toggled from activated with a product key to activated with a digital license. A subtle but important change. I don't have to enter key when I install the education version on this PC now. Up until I did the upgrade I had to every time or it would not activate.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  10.    08 Aug 2016 #30

    I am sort of repeating myself here a bit but just to clarify for people.

    The digital licence (formerly entitlement) is stored on MS servers, and this has not changed at all. It is irrelevant whether you use a local account or an MS account if you reinstall OS. There is NO CHANGE to the current activation process with a digital licence as we have seen over the last year.

    There is a common misconception that the new linking of the digital licence to an MS account enables you to AUTOMATICALLY activate a new clean install.

    This not the case at all. All the new activation tool does is enable Windows activation to find your digital licence on the activation server in the event that normal digital licence activation FAILS due to a hardware change (meaning the digital licence could not be found).


    Now here's where things get interesting.

    I have tested this whole area quite a lot, and I can categorically tell you if you login with an MS account, your windows install shows the device as being linked to the MSA and the PC shows as a device in the MSA.

    Equally, If you change the account to a local account, the windows activation message changes to saying digital licence only and no mention of link to MSA. More significantly, the device is removed from the MS account.

    I did a simple test in a VM1 with an activated version of windows 10 with a digital licence.

    I created a second unactivated VM2 and tried to see if it would let me do a transfer (without actually following through) if

    a) VM1 was using initially an MSA - here the activation tool could see VM1 (and it was shown as a device in MSA)

    b) I changed VM1 to using a local account - here the activation tool could NOT see VM1 (and it was NOT shown as a device in MSA)

    c) I changed VM1 back to an MSA - here the activation tool could again see VM1 (and it was again shown as a device in MSA).

    In another post, we tried to change the install to a local account whilst not connected to the internet (so the device would not be removed from MSA), and for a short period, this worked but eventually, the device got removed any way from the MSA - no idea why.

    So the obvious conclusion is you have to remain with your install as an MS account to guarantee to use the activation tool. You can of course flip flop as above but if your mobo failed whilst on a local account, you would not be able to reactivate using the tool.
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