The big news about the latest build of Windows 10 currently being tested by Windows Insiders, build 10565, is the improvements that have been introduced relating to the activation process.

Licensing is one of the murkiest elements of Windows and can be a confusing tangle of editions, updates and genuineness.

When build 10565 was released on Monday that licensing craziness gained some stability for consumers when Microsoft added the ability for them to use their Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 product keys, both OEM and retail, to activate an installation of Windows 10.

As promised in the initial announcement of build 10565 from Microsoft, there is now additional info about this process and some rules of the road.

Here is a breakdown of those details but don't expect anything earth shattering - this is pretty standard stuff for Windows upgrades. However, in the world of Windows licensing it is better to be clear than leave things to assumptions.

  • The product key and version of Windows 10 you are installing must match based on this matrix. Basically it means Home to Home; Pro to Pro etc. A product key for Windows 8.1 Home can not be used to activate a Windows 10 Professional installation.
  • On older machines that do not have the OEM product key embedded in the BIOS you can use the product key that was provided with the device. This is usually on a sticker that will be located on the side or bottom of the machine.
  • If your OEM device is a newer one and has the product key embedded in the BIOS then an upgrade will activate your device with a digital entitlement as long as the versions match as mentioned earlier.
  • Once Windows 10 is activated on any device, as of build 10240 or higher, that unit can now run Insider Previews or public releases of Windows 10 using the same edition without any need for product keys. Moving a device in and out of those states is possible because it will have its activation via digital entitlement.
  • Of course retail licenses for Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 can be used to activate the same version of Windows 10 and ultimately receive the digital entitlement for that system.

Along with these activation changes in build 10565, Microsoft has also modified the Settings>Update & Security>Activation page to indicate whether or not your device is activated via a digital entitlement.

Windows 10 Digital Entitlement Activation Status

You can learn more about digital entitlement in Windows 10 by visiting Microsoft's Activation in Windows 10 page.

These activation changes will not be available to everyone until Microsoft releases the Threshold 2 update for public use and that is expected sometime in November.