Windows 10: Multiple Keys associated with MS Account?
Yes, it is still linked to hardware. That has never changed. If you look at the device listing in your Microsoft Account you will see a list of DEVICES that have digital licenses for Windows 10.
Yes, you can still reuse retail product keys. The only obstacle is if it is a Windows 7 or 8 product key that has been blocked from online activation by Microsoft - then you would have to use other activation methods.
Licenses for Windows 10 are still issued on a per DEVICE basis, not a per user basis. Microsoft has only added the ability to store a DEVICE's license for Windows 10 in a user's Microsoft Account.
So, if I look on the list of devices on my MSA, there are some that I don't even own any more. Can I delete them and free up whatever key was used on those devices to be used on another device?
Deleting the old devices from your Microsoft Account will not affect your ability to reuse retail product keys one way or the other. I say leave them on there. You should be able to use those devices to transfer a digital license to a computer in the event that a valid product key you have is not being accepted for some reason. Right now I have three computers listed on my Microsoft Account that were all upgrades from Windows 7 that were activated with the same product key because I have a family three pack Windows 7 license which uses one product key for all three installations.
I will always attempt product key activation first, then only if that fails, fall back on transferring a digital license from my Microsoft Account.
Regrettably, just because a device is listed, does not necessarily mean it is activated.
Ok, so what is the point of them being stored and listed on the account?
I had a bunch of VM's that I used for activation testing and forgot about on there... ended up just deleting the lot.
We are still figuring out exactly the best way to tackle digital licensing...
I'm at a loss to understand why MS don't simply link a key to a MSA account and simply allow one installation like other software developers. Is it a money thing?
Why are you against MS making it easier to activate Windows? I now have more options to activate Windows 10 than any previous OS. With Windows 7 and Windows 8 there was only one way to activate it, that was with a valid product key. Now on all the computers in my house I don't need any product key to activate Windows when re-installing it. Or I can enter a product key. Or I can transfer a license from a device listed on my Microsoft Account.
Against MS making it easier? Why on earth do you say that? I am absolutely all for simplifying this whole cumbersome, confusing process that doesn't seem to have changed much for many years now.
Not that it matters too much what I think, but I am suggesting the simplest form of activation, i.e. every key being linked to one install at any time for a particular user. Let's take the whole hardware thing out of the equation. That is how a lot of software licences work, i.e. activated for 1 install at a time.
I am still missing something crucial here. You say re-installing is simpler now, but that wasn't really ever an issue. Not for me at least. All that was required was to input a key, then there was a check against the hardware, and bingo, everything was fine.
My issue over the years, and in this thread, is about what happens with hardware changes and transferring to a new PC completely.
I was under the impression that life in this respect had been made easier with Anniversary by associating keys with MSAs rather than hardware, but throughout this thread, that opinion has proven to be wrong. Keys are still locked to hardware.
I am interested in your statement 'I can transfer a license from a device listed on my Microsoft Account'. That seems to suggest what I was thinking in the first place!
I'm afraid, despite all you guys' best efforts, I remain totally confused! Honestly not trying to be awkward here.
And that is EXACTLY how product key activation still works with Windows 10 if you choose to enter a product key. Product key activation of Windows 10 works EXACTLY the same way it has for Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 and probably versions of Windows prior to that, I just can't remember. So...let's say you purchase a retail license for Windows 10 which comes with a unique retail Windows 10 Product Key.
1. You start Winodws setup. One of the first things it asks you for is a product key. You enter your Windows 10 retail product key. That determines which version of Windows 10 is installed, Home or Pro, and you won't even be asked to choose.
2. Windows setup finishes. When connected to the internet, Windows 10 sends the Installation ID to Microsoft Activation servers. The Installation ID is a number that includes a bunch of different factors including the unique Product Key you entered, the version of Windows 10 installed and hardware information unique to the computer installed on.
3. If this was the first activation of that Installation ID, and your product key is recognized as a retail product key, then Microsoft Activation Servers will return the activation code to activate Windows 10. Just like before, with Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1.
4. Now, you re-install the same version of Windows 10 on the same computer entering the same retail product key. The resulting Installation ID will be the same as the first install. When connected to the internet, Windows sends it to Microsoft Activation Servers which recognize the Installation ID as being activated before and will send the activation code back to activate Windows. Just like in Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1
5. Now you change your motherboard. You have created a new computer. You install the same version of Windows 10 with the same product key - or leave the same version of Windows 10 installed that you had before. The Installation ID will be different. This gets sent to Microsoft Activation Servers. There is no match for this Installation ID, so the activation servers retrieves the product key from the Installation ID. Now, depending on how many times this product key has been used on different computers in a certain amount of time, one of two things will happen:
5a. If the limit for using the product key has not been reached, Microsoft Activation Servers will return the activation code and Windows 10 will activate. Just like before with Windows 7 or Windows 8. This additional use of the product key is recorded and the number of times the product key has been used is increased by 1.
5b. You hit the limit of the number of times the product key can be reused. Microsoft Activation Servers will return a code that tells Windows that the product key has been blocked from online activation. The user will then be prompted to call the Microsoft Activation phone number where you will have to manually enter the Installation ID. A computer voice will ask you how many computers you have installed with this copy of Windows. You answer 1. You get the activation code in return that you type in and Windows 10 activates. Just like with Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1.
Microsoft has not changed how activation with a product key works for Windows 10. What Microsoft has done is added digital license activation to Windows 10. But that only provides MORE options for the user to activate Windows 10 with. But they took nothing away from standard product key activation of Windows 10.
Now, instead of remembering a whole bunch of different product keys, and keeping track of which product key goes with which computer - I choose to just click the link at the bottom of the page that says "I don't have a product key" and let Windows retrieve the digital license for me and activate by itself. But, if I really want to enter a product key, I still can.
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