Change in Windows 10 build 10565 makes activation less of a headache

This week's release of the latest Windows 10 Insider build, 10565, brought plenty of great improvements to the OS. However, one of the more interesting changes that Microsoft slipped in deals with making activation much easier for those doing a clean install of Windows 10 on a machine that previously ran Windows 7, 8, or 8.1. Here are the details from the changelog:

Device activation improvements: We have received a lot of feedback from Insiders on making it easier to activate Windows 10 on devices that take advantage of the free upgrade offer to genuine Windows by using existing Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 product keys. If you install this build of the Windows 10 Insider Preview on a PC and it doesn't automatically activate, you can enter the product key from Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 used to activate the prior Windows version on the same device to activate Windows 10 by going to Settings > Update & security > Activation and selecting Change Product Key. If you do a clean install of Windows 10 by booting off the media, you can also enter the product key from prior Windows versions on qualifying devices during setup. Refer to the Insider Hub for more information on these activation improvements including requirements.

Up until now, those taking advantage of the free upgrade offer couldn't initially do a clean install because the free copy didn't include its own product key. This latest change essentially means that, when you upgrade a machine currently running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 with a clean install of Windows 10, you'll be able to use your previous Windows 7 or 8 product key to activate the OS.

It looks like Microsoft is using some hardware ID magic on the backend to make this happen, matching the hardware setup of your older Windows activation, and subsequently its product key — to confirm that your Windows 10 install is valid. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley has even tested this out and confirmed that it indeed works as advertised. However, keep in mind that this is only live for the current Insider preview, and won't be live for all users until the update sees a wide release.

Via: ZDNet

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • About time!
  • Is there any speculation date when all of these insider preview updates/builds will become available for non-insiders?
  • Rumor says sometime in November.
  • They were targeting late November, I believe. For what it's worth, though, the Insider builds are reasonably high quality, but while it works great most of the time, I have seen two blue screens just today already with the latest build that came out yesterday. I'm hoping the telemetry data will help them push out a fix soon. From what I recall, I think Microsoft said to expect 3 big updates per year, i.e. 1 every 4 months (or was it 4 update, 1 every 3 months?)
  • @Jessicator, believe it was two - TH1, TH2, Redstone 1, Redstone 2 etc. Spring and Winter release schedules. However that may have changed, I doubt it has as that would mean alot more work for them.
  • Good for new insiders! I was on chat twice, for two machines, about 2 hours apiece getting a clean install of ten activated after being on insider for a year. Hassle to the fucking max.
  • Why am i seeing adds in this app. I am pretty sure I paid for this app.
  • Because you're using a beta OS that has broken IAP. cheers.
  • that's only a dollar, you shouldnt be telling this
  • I guess you misread his post. Dan's answer was the right one :-)
    To the OP: I had ads too, then they disappeared for whatever reason. Try uninstalling / reinstalling, if it does not help, it cannot hurt either...
  • Amem!
  • Maybe they can install DVD Player when you do this as well. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I believe they have a kb for this so in theory you could download the cab files
  • Thank you. I did exactly this, but if you upgrade with the app, can you still purchase the DVD Player? Because I still can.
  • The "hardware ID magic" has been in Windows activation since pre-XP days.
  • Except xp allowed for activating pro with a home key
  • Stupid question, but what about machines that came preloaded with Windows 8/8.1 that don't have a product key sticker and the product key is embedded in the motherboard/BIOS? Please only respond if you have the answer.
  • I think the best thing to do with that is to upgrade to Win10 without a clean install? (just the upgrade option, not clean install) however if you've already installed win10, idk sorry. I'm really surprised you don't have a product key sticker or anything on the bottom/side of the computer. I'm pretty sure all are supposed to have it :o
  • Those product keys are read during setup automatically so things should work fine for them as well.
  • There are programs that can read your key and display it for you. Dl one of those.
  • Uh, you mean "Zdnet's Ed Bott has tested this out..."?
  • I only hope that for people who haven't upgraded it this is out before July 2016, heh. Also the installation media you download from MS (the ISO) wasn't getting too big for a DVD, I read?
  • This is good to know. I did an upgrade from 7 using Windows update, but later had to replace my HDD. I installed W10 from the media creation tool but it wouldn't activate. Took quite some time for Windows support to be willing to fix that for me. Guess I'm one of the people this would have been for.
  • I originally used an enterprise key when activating windows 10. I was afraid something would happen when it became official but I was able to keep windows 10 pro for free :)
  • This is what I was expecting from the start. Better late than never
  • About dog gone time!!! This was one of the worst upgrades in a long time... Clean install is just the way to go...
  • Finally clean install is now possible... I cannot upgrade to windows 10 on my laptop because the windows update is corrupted... I got to love this build...
  • Thank you MS about time
  • MS need to clear up the retail licencing. My Windows 7 is a full retail copy, I upgraded this to Windows 10. What if I change my hardware after next July? A retail licence can be moved to new hardware as many times as I want, but will I have to pay for Windows 10?