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Microsoft Clears Up Activation Options For Windows 10

For those who have Windows 10 on PC, the upgrade was different on two fronts: it was free and it didn't require a product key. The latter is more important because instead of the traditional 25-key product code that we're accustomed to seeing with new software, users had a "digital entitlement," and according to Microsoft, it's one of the two ways to activate Windows 10 for your device. Early adopters were confused as to how they could claim their copy of the new OS, and Microsoft finally explained it.

The other method uses the traditional product key, but it's only available under certain circumstances, such as buying it in a physical or digital format from an authorized retailer or buying an entirely new device that runs on Windows 10.

Digital entitlement mostly deals with digital copies of a new system. This is what most users experienced when they upgraded from Windows 7 or 8.1, bought the software from the Windows Store online, or participated in the Windows Insider program.

Digital Entitlement Activation For Windows 10Product Key Activation For Windows 10
Updated to Windows 10 from an eligible device running Windows 7 or 8.1Bought Windows 10 from an authorized dealer
Bought a copy of Windows 10 from the Windows StoreBought a digital copy of Windows 10 from an authorized dealer
Bought a copy of Windows 10 Pro from the Windows StoreYou have a Microsoft Developer Network subscription or have a Volume Licensing agreement for Windows 10
You're a Windows Insider and upgraded to the latest version of Windows 10 Insider Preview buildBought a new device running Windows 10

The total number of ways to activate Windows 10 comes out to eight, as shown in the table above, and it's split down the middle in terms of using either a product key or digital entitlement to get the new system. However, considering that other companies, such as Apple, are releasing their latest software digitally, the product key might be phased out in the future.

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  • Martell1977
    I'm still trying to get a clear and official answer about my Windows 7 Home Premium Family 3-pack. All 3 computers use the same license key. If I upgrade 1 of the 3 computers and Windows 10 turns the key into a key for itself, do my other 2 machines become non-genuine?

    This was the biggest factor of why I reverted my laptop back to Windows 7 after 2 weeks. I couldn't get an clear, official answer about this. I tried calling, but got no useful information...
    Reply
  • thor220
    I'm still trying to get a clear and official answer about my Windows 7 Home Premium Family 3-pack. All 3 computers use the same license key. If I upgrade 1 of the 3 computers and Windows 10 turns the key into a key for itself, do my other 2 machines become non-genuine?

    This was the biggest factor of why I reverted my laptop back to Windows 7 after 2 weeks. I couldn't get an clear, official answer about this. I tried calling, but got no useful information...

    I may not be an official source but if Microsoft won't say it I will, you're screwed. Windows 10 takes the product key you had from windows 7 and converts it into an entitlement. Entitlements are only good for the motherboard they are installed on, period. You cannot use them on another system or if you upgrade the motherboard.

    Microsoft should have accounted for issues like multi-PC licences but they were too busy chasing the cloud and dollar signs. Not only does the name "entitlement" suggest you must remain in the good graces of microsoft but it also means that you no longer own your software.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    16699119 said:
    I'm still trying to get a clear and official answer about my Windows 7 Home Premium Family 3-pack. All 3 computers use the same license key. If I upgrade 1 of the 3 computers and Windows 10 turns the key into a key for itself, do my other 2 machines become non-genuine?

    This was the biggest factor of why I reverted my laptop back to Windows 7 after 2 weeks. I couldn't get an clear, official answer about this. I tried calling, but got no useful information...

    I may not be an official source but if Microsoft won't say it I will, you're screwed. Windows 10 takes the product key you had from windows 7 and converts it into an entitlement. Entitlements are only good for the motherboard they are installed on, period. You cannot use them on another system or if you upgrade the motherboard.

    Microsoft should have accounted for issues like multi-PC licences but they were too busy chasing the cloud and dollar signs. Not only does the name "entitlement" suggest you must remain in the good graces of microsoft but it also means that you no longer own your software.

    We have yet to see anything that specifically states that a "Entitlement" is like OEM only and tied to the board it is installed on. If anything there is still information that needs to be cleared up. I would assume that a retail 8.1 upgraded to 10 is 10 retail meaning it is not tied to the board itself.

    I bought a retail version from the MS Store. Per the license agreement Retail can be reinstalled to any PC so long as it is on only one system. If anything it is tied to my Live account.

    And if you read any of the Microsoft Windows EULA you have never actually owned the software, you owned the key that gave you the right to use that software which could be revoked at any time. It has been that way for a very long time. In fact most software EULAs are very similar.
    Reply
  • SteelCity1981
    Martell1977 short answer yes they will be non genuine. whatever pc gets first gets upgraded to windows 10 will be the pc that is the entitled version to windows 10 and the rest of the computers that shared the windows 7 product key from the 3 pack will not be able to upgrade. now there is away around that and that's join the ms insider program and download the windows 10 preview builds on the 2 other pc's not eligible for a windows 10 upgrade and you can get a genuine copy of a genuine windows 10 for those pc's doing it that way.
    Reply
  • thor220
    16699206 said:
    16699119 said:
    I'm still trying to get a clear and official answer about my Windows 7 Home Premium Family 3-pack. All 3 computers use the same license key. If I upgrade 1 of the 3 computers and Windows 10 turns the key into a key for itself, do my other 2 machines become non-genuine?

    This was the biggest factor of why I reverted my laptop back to Windows 7 after 2 weeks. I couldn't get an clear, official answer about this. I tried calling, but got no useful information...

    I may not be an official source but if Microsoft won't say it I will, you're screwed. Windows 10 takes the product key you had from windows 7 and converts it into an entitlement. Entitlements are only good for the motherboard they are installed on, period. You cannot use them on another system or if you upgrade the motherboard.

    Microsoft should have accounted for issues like multi-PC licences but they were too busy chasing the cloud and dollar signs. Not only does the name "entitlement" suggest you must remain in the good graces of microsoft but it also means that you no longer own your software.

    We have yet to see anything that specifically states that a "Entitlement" is like OEM only and tied to the board it is installed on. If anything there is still information that needs to be cleared up. I would assume that a retail 8.1 upgraded to 10 is 10 retail meaning it is not tied to the board itself.

    I bought a retail version from the MS Store. Per the license agreement Retail can be reinstalled to any PC so long as it is on only one system. If anything it is tied to my Live account.

    And if you read any of the Microsoft Windows EULA you have never actually owned the software, you owned the key that gave you the right to use that software which could be revoked at any time. It has been that way for a very long time. In fact most software EULAs are very similar.

    It's pretty clear here

    http://www.maximumpc.com/microsoft-changes-rules-for-windows-10-activation-for-the-better/

    "And if you read any of the Microsoft Windows EULA you have never actually owned the software, you owned the key that gave you the right to use that software which could be revoked at any time. It has been that way for a very long time. In fact most software EULAs are very similar."

    Microsoft is just the first one to advertise your lack of rights. Hooray for breaking ground.
    Reply
  • niveditas
    Where did the table in this article come from? I bought windows pro just last month from the windows store, and I got a product key
    Reply
  • thor220
    16699451 said:
    Where did the table in this article come from? I bought windows pro just last month from the windows store, and I got a product key

    Yes they give you a key to activate it the first time. Once you use that key for the first time, it turns into an entitlement and your key turns into a generic one depending on the edition of windows you have. For example, all windows 10 pro users have the same key displayed in computer properties.
    Reply
  • chalabam
    I have a Toshiba laptop, which came with Windows 8.1 preinstalled.

    Recently, I deleted the Windows 10 installation files, uploaded witouth my authorization, uninstalled the telemetry updates, and blocked Windows Update, including Windows Update service.

    Now it says that my perfeclty legal Windows 8.1 license is not valid. It was stored in BIOS, I tried to reenter it, and was rejected.

    I never installed Windows 10. Never gave my consent.

    I will not migrate to 10. I don't even like 8.1.

    There is only one choice left, crack it, or move to linux.

    You are evil, Microsoft, and I will not take it anymore.
    Reply
  • LargeHardware
    Lets clear up a misconception. When you upgrade to Windows 10 nothing happens to you original Windows 7 or 8 authentication code or Key. It still exists as it did before and is still valid per the terms of the original agreement. The Windows 10 agreement does not allow you to use both the original and new windows 10 validations at the same time but you can continue to use either in the future as per your agreement with Microsoft.

    When you upgrade your computer to Windows 10 it is done from within the running Operating System. Windows 10 verifies that your computer is in fact running a Genuine Microsoft Version of Windows 7 or 8 and that it is validated or Authentic. I fail to see what the concern is in regards to upgrading all 3 or only 1. Just to be clear your Windows 7 or 8 Key is verified as authentic and valid when you upgrade but is not used as the actual key for Windows 10. A new validation key or entitlement is created for Windows 10. The original key is still intact, valid and stored in Microsoft's data base. If you want to use it again you can. After upgrading to 10 I have uninstalled it and re-installed Windows 7 using the original key for authentication several times and have had no problems.

    I am assuming that Microsoft is continuing to keep their records for every key issued and the terms of the agreement. If the scenario you are presenting were in fact true it would wreak havoc in the business world since most businesses purchase the software for multiple installations. I don't see that happening.

    Important Notice: Always be sure you have a physical copy of your original Validation Key xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx. If you do not have a sticker on the machine write it down. When the upgrade to Windows 10 is complete you will not be able to retrieve the original Windows key from your computer or operating system should need it later.
    Reply
  • LargeHardware
    16700284 said:
    I have a Toshiba laptop, which came with Windows 8.1 preinstalled.

    Recently, I deleted the Windows 10 installation files, uploaded witouth my authorization, uninstalled the telemetry updates, and blocked Windows Update, including Windows Update service.

    Now it says that my perfeclty legal Windows 8.1 license is not valid. It was stored in BIOS, I tried to reenter it, and was rejected.

    I never installed Windows 10. Never gave my consent.

    I will not migrate to 10. I don't even like 8.1.

    There is only one choice left, crack it, or move to linux.

    You are evil, Microsoft, and I will not take it anymore.

    I believe you were actually using a recovery partition on the hard drive to reinstall Windows 8. You cannot use what is in your Bios to validate Windows 8. That data was modified when Windows 10 was installed. You need to validate Windows 8 with the original Authentication Code xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx. It's on a sticker that Microsoft provides for the original installation. That sticker is often found under the battery so if you cannot find it on case remove the battery and look under it.

    I suspect someone clicked the little blue window icon that was added to the lower right of your display during on the automatic updates months ago. Microsoft added the icon to click on and "Get Windows 10" without asking during a routine update but they do not automatically install it unless someone clicks on the "Get Windows 10" and agrees to the terms. These blue window icons were added to everyone's machines months before Windows 10 was available to the public as a was to reserve your copy. This machine I am using now still has that little blue window icon and it still nags me to upgrade to Windows 10 because I never agreed to it on this machine as I did my others.

    Also when you say you deleted Windows 10 it makes me curious what you actually did because deleting a program file is a bad thing to do. Programs should always be uninstalled. If you reformatted the drive that is fine but just deleting files will almost always create a problem. You can contact Toshiba Computer Warranty repairs department if your machine is not too old they should help.

    Regardless, if you were able to completely remove Windows 10 then you are free to go back to Windows 8 as long as you have a valid authentication code (look for the Microsoft Windows sticker).. What you cannot do is use both simultaneously so if there are still some remnants of Windows 10 on your machine signaling to Microsoft that they are active you will not be able to validate Windows 8 until they are removed.
    Reply