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on Jul 29, 2015

It's explained on the MS FAQ (won't let me link it):
"Note

If you upgraded to Windows 10 on this PC by taking advantage of the free upgrade offer and successfully activated Windows 10 on this PC in the past, you won't have a Windows 10 product key, and you can skip the product key page by selecting the Skip button. Your PC will activate online automatically so long as the same edition of Windows 10 was successfully activated on this PC by using the free Windows 10 upgrade offer."

on Jul 29, 2015

That is correct and bears out my testing overnight as well.

I am doing some other scenarios right to be able to add to that later today.

Thanks for sharing the info from the FAQ.

on Jul 29, 2015

I would assume after you have upgraded using this method, you can then use a flashdrive (created with windows media creator) to do a clean install and skipping over the enter key dialog. Is that correct ?

on Jul 30, 2015

That is correct - I expand on this in a new post that went up this morning.

winsupersite.com/windows-10/how-make-sure-your-free-copy-windows-10-activated

Key part is an in place upgrade happens first then total clean installs can happen.

on Nov 30, 2016

i need windows 10 please help

on Nov 30, 2016

What do you need assistance with?

on Jul 29, 2015

Trying this from a different angle: I downloaded the Windows 10 Pro 64-bit ISO from Microsoft using the upgrade tool, extracted it, and tried using the installer to upgrade an older (and already activated) Windows 8.1 machine. I got an error about missing a product key in the unattend file and the installation aborted. My plan was to use this extracted ISO to upgrade other computers and save the download time, but so far I can't locate a special upgrade ISO, assuming there is such a thing.

on Jul 29, 2015

I created an installation USB on one machine and used it on another and was able to have an activated system so I do not believe it is tied to the hardware it is created on.

A hardware hash is created and stored on MS Store servers that is used to activate.

on Jul 29, 2015

So I tried this on a test machine that had Windows 10 installed. Everything worked but it didn't activate. Now my activation key doesn't work, I tried calling Microsoft activation but they are backed up and long waits. I think I'll wait until later to call them.

on Jul 29, 2015

Interesting. In the future if I have to reinstall Windows 10, and not upgrade what do I use for a key. Like it said in the article you could skip over that process and login with your Microsoft acct and it would remember your key. Since I have 2 laptops and 2 desktops with Windows 8, does it remember each one of them. Ideas..

on Jul 29, 2015

Updating this comment to say I have learned that the key identifier is not in the installation media or USB drive.

It is created during the installation process and is then shared to Windows Store and then it is maintained for the life of that device.

The ISO does not matter except that it must match the previous OS and the first install of Windows 10 must be an upgrade of that OS and not a clean install.

That can come afterwards.

------

It appears that the install media you create on each device is connected to that device by a hardware hash - that is what allows the clean installs without activation because that key is embedded in the ISO and setup files.

on Jul 29, 2015

That makes sense I suppose--- but I still want a generic ISO I can use to upgrade Windows 7/8.x computers. This would seem like something Microsoft would be in support of since it would remove some stress from their servers. I've been looking for info off and on today with no joy. Waiting on a ~3gb download for a couple hundred computers just isn't something I'm looking forward to.

on Jul 29, 2015

I now have a better understanding of this and the key is the upgrade. Must upgrade the previous OS first - not a clean install on the hardware.

That upgrade will create a unique installation ID for that machine and as long as you use the same edition it can be reinstalled and clean installed for the lifetime of that device.

So the origin of the ISO does not matter as long as edition matches.

on Jul 29, 2015

Excellent. Means a clean install without bothering to enter a Windows 8 key. Give it a whirl tonight..

on Jul 30, 2015

I Did but isn't automatically activate.

on Jul 30, 2015

Did you perform an in place upgrade first or jump straight to a clean install?

on Jul 29, 2015

Like thousands of user's across the world, I to was having problems with the Windows 10 Upgrade downloading; it just kept failing to install and I tried all of the 'fixes' that other user's posted but none of them helped. So I found a link on another website and was able to the Microsoft Media Creation tool to download a full ISO copy of Windows 10 Pro 64bit and burn it to a DVD. I then used the tool again to "Upgrade this PC Now" and Win 10 was downloaded and installed and activated.

I used the same installation method Paul Thurrott but, unlike Paul who did not have the "Recovery Folder" option and Windows Old after installing, I've got both so I don't know how that happened on my PC; I guess Paul must have been lucky? I also had my IE favourites included when I changed back to IE so, unlike Paul's installation, my install was not a "truly clean install".

I have a few issues and the first one is with Edge Browser, it's looks ok but I got fed up with choosing 'allow third party' cookies and after closing settings down, I tried to log in to my Hotmail account and got a message saying that cookies had to be allow so I allowed ALL cookies and still got the message. So, in the end, I chose Internet Explorer as my default. Another issue with my mic and speakers, even though the drivers are enabled and working properly, the mic does not work and there is no sound from the speakers. I should say that I am using a MacBook pro in a Bootcamp setup with Windows 10 but that should not matter because both the mic and speakers worked under Windows 8.1.

One other niggle is that when I choose the @ key, I get the " sign and vice versa when I choose the " key, I get the @ sign. My country is the UK. I've had this issue before but I can't remember how to fix it?

on Jul 29, 2015

About your @ and " signs... Change your input language.
"United States-International" has the @ on the 2-key, "United Kingdom" has the " on the 2-key.

on Jul 29, 2015

I downloaded ISO file from Microsoft website burned it and did a clean install, when the Desktop popped up, Windows was activated, I have upgraded my Windows 8.1 before that :)

on Jul 29, 2015

My Win8 key isn't working either :)

on Jul 29, 2015

Keys for 8.1 and 7 will not activate Windows 10 on their own. You must initially upgrade to Windows 10 from the activated OS.

That is what then generates your installation ID for the lifetime of that device. After that you can install clean without needing the previous OS or keys.

on Jul 29, 2015

I deleted the windows 8.1 partition :(

on Jul 29, 2015

I suppose this means multiple Win7/Win8 activated PCs would each need to individually download and install the 3GB upgrade before a clean rebuild. Microsoft could've done this smarter by getting the Windows 10 reservation tool to store the machine's unique installation ID to the store against a Microsoft email address. That would've eliminated the need to upgrade first before a clean install (besides saving some households gigs of bandwidth).

Thanks for sharing your experiences everyone. Saves a lot of experimentation. ;-)

on Jul 30, 2015

I was mistaken in typing the activation code to the install media. The key is in doing an inplace upgrade to Windows 10 first.

I expand on that in this post from this morning:

winsupersite.com/windows-10/how-make-sure-your-free-copy-windows-10-activated

GjB
on Jul 29, 2015

I just did the Upgrade this PC now option (on my secondary PC).
I also opted to not keep anything.
The install went very smoothly.
I did notice that the windows.old folder still existed and could be seen being removed by CCleaner.
(Using CCleaner and ticking/checking Old Windows Installation in the advanced tab.)

Anyway - Windows 10 is great. People need to take the time to customize it to their liking and they will feel right at home.

on Jul 29, 2015

I did an upgrade on a Windows 8.1 system and then ran Keyfinder and discovered that the CD Key is different than the Windows 8.1 key I had. So it seems to generate a new key and that is what you may also need if activation does not work on a re-install. I am going to swap out my disk with an SSD and do a clean install on the computer I just upgraded and enter the key I found when it asks and see what happens.

on Jul 29, 2015

Wasn't so lucky. I upgraded my Windows 8.1 which went fine. It says activated. I then used the flashdrive I put Windows 10 pro on it, and tried a clean install. Same thing, key not recognized. Do I actually have to put the key in...

on Jul 29, 2015

Here's how it worked for me. After upgrading, I did a clean install. The trick is when the prompt comes up for windows key skip it. Later when windows 10 is installed the same prompt for windows keys comes up again. Again skip it. Once Windows 10 is installed you will see that it is activated.

on Jul 30, 2015

Glad to hear you got it all sorted out - thanks for sharing your experience with everyone here,

on Jul 30, 2015

Have you figured out yet

1) Is there any difference of Windows 10 installation and activation on machines that have BIOS-winkey (of Win 8.x) and those that don't have?

2) Is that clean istall, after upgrade install, really fully clean install? So can you for example then reinstall again such try-out software that allow one time installation only?

3) Will it be possible to reinstall Windows 10 after mass storage upgrade or after hardware upgrade / fix?

4) Does that clean install of Windows (after upgrade installation) get rid of pc manufacturer extra software and settings too. So does it make fully pure Windows 10 installation?

Btw there seems to be lots of difficulties now among non-insiders, in upgrading their Windows to Windows 10 in matter of network component drivers. Especially wlan-drivers seem not to be functioning after upgrade ... and if wlan is the only network in use, you are in serious trouble after upgrade. So better to check out before upgrade to Windows 10, whether pc / hardware manufacturer has special Windows 10 drivers especially for wlan and network components and to download them before upgrade. So that you can install them after Windows 10 updgrade. For example Lenovo laptops has that problem and their support site has been quite slow now, due to people seeking updated drivers from there.

on Jul 30, 2015

Well my testing has been limited to due the fact I do not have every system variation but I can try to help with some of this.

1. Not that I am aware of. I did a Windows 7 upgrade that did not have the embedded key and a Windows 8.1 system that did. Both activated fine but an in place upgrade must be done first. Check out my "How to make sure your free copy of Windows 10 is activated"

2. The Keeping Nothing options for in place upgrades leaves you a clean Windows install. This is not like Windows XP and Vista which always left behind junk during the upgrade. Reset is also a good option to return to your original OOBE.

3. I expect Windows 10 will handle hardware changes just like 7 and 8.1 did before it. It may mean a phone call activation but that is easy enough.

4. All depends if you are using the OEM's recovery image or not. The Windows 10 upgrade that we have access from MS right now is clean and results in a clean system with no carry overs.

Some OEMs have been all over getting new drivers ready for Windows 10 and others have drug their feet. For my HP upgrades the updated drivers were downloaded during the upgrade process and for a clean install afterwards.

HTH.

on Jul 30, 2015

Hi,
New to site. How do you go back to Win 7 if Win10 is not your cup of tea?
How do you get an upgrade Win10 logo if none appeared. I have 4 computers . Two have it 2 don't .

on Jul 30, 2015

Welcome to the site - great to have you with us.

There is a 30 day Window to revert back to the OS you upgraded from. After that you are on Windows 10.

You can go ahead and use the same tool that I show in this article, the media creation tool, to upgrade the systems that do not have the logo yet.

Enjoy.

on Jul 30, 2015

now i have a question.
if i upgrade my activated windows 8.1 using windows 10 image file will it be activated? If yes, then when i use it for clean installation then will it be activited after clean installation using boot sequence and formating c.

sorry for my bad english

on Jul 30, 2015

If you do an in place upgrade from 8.1 to 10 it will be activated. After that you can do a clean install on the same hardware afterwards for the lifetime of the device.

And yes - it will be activated.

on Jul 30, 2015

Richard,
Since you've joined Supersite, you've been creating posts with many slides, but only an initial post/caption. On my 13" laptop the slides are too small to read consistently. The enlarge slide button will bring 1 slide to full screen, but there is no way to page througfh all the slides. Having lots of slides with no captions is also problematic. Many other sites do multi slide posts, but there are captions for each slide making it easier to understand the subject matter. IMO multi-slides make things difficult in general. It's better to have a single long sequential post with the slides embedded in the text stream at the appropriate points in the article. That is the way Paul Thurrott used to do it on the old Supersite -- made for much easier reads and more understandable posts -- just sayin (:grin)

on Jul 30, 2015

Thanks for the feedback on the slide shows.

We have asked the web team to add navigation arrows to the enlarged slide views to help with that because we know that is necessary.

Thanks.

on Jul 30, 2015

If I upgrade from Windows 7.1 to Windows 10 and have an Acronis image backup of Windows 7.1 will I be able to go back to 7.1 after the 30 day period if unhappy with Windows 10?

on Jul 31, 2015

You have 30 days to revert your Windows 10 upgrade back to your previous OS.

on Aug 1, 2015

So...sorry if this has already been answered, but I'd rather not do an upgrade because I want to dual boot Windows 10 Pro and Windows 7 Ultimate. I made full backups of everything, downloaded Windows 10 with the Media Creation Tool, and did the second installation method (I believe it was Custom Install or something like that). Anyway, I have Windows 10 installed now, and would rather not have to format and start from scratch just so I can activate it...

on Aug 1, 2015

If you want to activate a clean install of Windows 10 - that as not done as part of an upgrade then you either have to purchase a retail product key or choose to leave that OS in the Windows Insider Program and received early builds/updates for testing.

The only way the free upgrade gets activated and subsequently allows an activated clean install is to upgrade an existing Windows 7 or 8.1 system and then after verifying it is properly activated perform a clean install.

on Aug 1, 2015

I started the install and everything was going fine. Towards the end, there was a message that the computer would need to reboot several times. I left the room briefly and when I returned the screen was black and had these words - 'An operating system wasn't found. Try disconnecting any drives that don't contain an operating system. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart'. Whatever I do now I can't get past this screen.

on Aug 4, 2015

Can you do that?

on Aug 6, 2015

I followed your instructions to upgrade from my Windows 8.1 and opted to keep my files. Everything went pretty smoothly so now I would like to do a clean install. I am unsure how to do this as I do not have a USB/ISO, etc. Can you help, please?

on Aug 6, 2015

If you go to Settings>Updates & security and choose Reset this device - follow those steps and select to Keep Nothing" That is just like a clean install for most folks.

It lets you start from scratch on Windows 10.

Just be sure you have your data backed up just in case.

on Aug 6, 2015

I have installed Windows 10 from my laptop running Windows 8.1 and selected the option to save my files. How can I do a clean install now; I did not create USB media so is this still possible?

on Aug 6, 2015

Apologies for the (almost) duplicate post! Thanks for your help. I will try that.

on Aug 6, 2015

Help! I did the reset and it appeared to be going OK but now I have 'Inaccessible boot device'. The machine keeps starting but the result is the same.

on Aug 6, 2015

That sounds like a hard disk failure.

on Aug 6, 2015

I only got the laptop yesterday! The initial upgrade from 8.1 to 10 went OK. I am just creating a USB on another laptop and will try that.

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