Microsoft improves activation in Windows 10 in latest Insider Build

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 13, 2015
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

There are numerous posts on the Internet where users report issues with activating Windows 10 either on a fresh install of the operating system or after upgrading from an existing version of Windows.

We have already told you how to check if Windows 10 is activated, and Microsoft has released a guide recently that provides users with answers to common activation issues users may encounter.

Things appear to take a turn for the better though as Microsoft just improved the activation process in the latest Windows 10 Insider Build that it released yesterday.

While it will take some time before the improvement becomes available to retail systems running the operating system, it is only a matter of time before that is the case.

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.

So what has been improved?

windows 10 activation

Microsoft -- basically -- added an option to the settings of Windows 10 to accept product keys from previous versions of Windows, namely Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, to activate the Windows 10 operating system from within using those keys.

In fact, Microsoft mentions explicitly that it does not matter whether you have upgraded to Windows 10 or installed the operating system from scratch as you can use the new option to activate the operating system anyway provided that the product key is legitimate.

What more? Users who clean install Windows 10 can enter the product key from prior versions of Windows during setup. This means that you are not stopped dead in your tracks anymore if you are asked for a Windows 10 product key if you don't have one.

Does this mean that you don't need to have Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 installed on a PC anymore before you can upgrade to Windows 10? It appears that this is the case but I did not have time to test this yet.

It would certainly improve the installation process significantly since you would no longer be required to install (or already have installed) a previous version of Windows on a computer before making the "initial" upgrade to Windows 10.

Since the product key is used anyway to identify whether a system can be upgraded, it makes sense to use it exclusively for that.

Microsoft improves activation in Windows 10 in latest Insider Build
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Microsoft improves activation in Windows 10 in latest Insider Build
Microsoft improved the activation of Windows 10 systems in the latest Insider Build by making the process better for users who upgrade their systems.
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  1. chesscanoe said on October 13, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    I’m a for the most part very happy with Windows 10, avoiding the alpha code Edge, Cortana, etc. But now I periodically get a red icon in the notification area that freezes my auto hide taskbar until I click and close that red icon that wants me to sign up for Office 365. Microsoft now views their new OS as an advertising vehicle for their other products. Very annoying.

  2. falujah said on October 13, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Microsoft is quite desperate to make that projection of 1 billion Windows 10 devices, that is why they are doing all in their power to make upgrading as easy as possible. What they don’t understand is a significant portion of users is not interested in upgrading. These users certainly do not appreciate the fact that Microsoft is sneaking Windows 10 and forcing them to upgrade. No is NO, is that so difficult to understand?

  3. Tom Hawack said on October 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I wonder when Windows 10 final release will be available, because what we have since July 29th is in beta stage, isn’t it? Or is it alpha? Ever since I’ve been running Windows (3.1) its releases always included a finished product. First time I see this way of proceeding. Odd. In fact the update is free but the cost remains the users’ time and effort dedicated for beta testing. It would have been cool if Microsoft had announced it right from the beginning : “Update will be free (7/8.1 users) but as a fair deal you’ll have to test the damn code until it works out correctly”. That would have been a fait attitude.

    1. anon said on October 14, 2015 at 1:49 am

      Windows 10 is never going to be finished. Were you not paying attention to the announcement in September 2014? It’s an OS which is being constantly updated since that’s the de facto standard in the modern world of technology.

      1. Tom Hawack said on October 14, 2015 at 4:12 pm

        I’m aware of that. Windows 10 will not be upgraded. Fine. Its life will be a constant move to better with updates when required, streamed to the point that the user shouldn’t even notice them : good, since the user (besides enterprises) cannot block them if/when he chooses to. One product for all supports, Universal Windows, the dream of all gods.
        What I’m annoyed about is that the baby was born before term, obviously.

    2. Corky said on October 13, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      Microsoft would argue that the beta testing has been done by the Insiders.

      Although judging by the amount of problems people seem to experience they’re not doing a very good job, some people myself included consider Windows 10 isn’t out of Alpha (insiders) or Beta (Current Branch, Current Branch for Business) until the updates/upgrades reach enterprise customers (Long Term Servicing Branch), after all they have to protect their cash cow.

      1. Tom Hawack said on October 13, 2015 at 4:11 pm

        Of course you’re right. I was seriously half-joking but you’ve understood that. What I see is that non-insiders are dealing with an OS that is still being brought to a decent stage by the “insiders”, in other words non-techie users are on the same level as those insiders except that they don’t participate and have to blindly wait for updates with an OS that is obviously not finished. Not finished means improvable (what isn’t improvable?) but improvable shouldn’t mean here unfinished : two different things.

  4. C4VR said on October 13, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Does it also work with OEM keys?

  5. craig said on October 13, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Well about time they sorted out this mess.

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