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With Windows 10, Microsoft has rewritten the rules for how it performs product activation on retail upgrades of Windows, including the free upgrades available for a year beginning on July 29, The net result is that clean installs will be much easier--but only after you get past the first one.

OEM activation hasn't changed, nor have the procedures for activating volume license copies. But the massive Get Windows 10 upgrade push means that for the near future at least those retail upgrade scenarios are very important. The biggest change of all is that the Windows 10 activation status for a device is stored online.

After you successfully activate Windows 10 for the first time, that device will activate automatically in the future, with no product key required.

That's a huge change from previous versions of Windows, which required a product key for every installation. And it's potentially an unwelcome surprise for anyone who tries to do a clean install of Windows 10 without understanding the new activation landscape.

Microsoft is characteristically shy about discussing the details of activation. That's understandable, because every detail the company provides about its anti-piracy measures offers information that its attackers can use.

But it's also frustrating, because Microsoft's customers who use Windows don't want to have to think about activation. The Windows PC you paid for, and the free upgrade you spent time installing, should just work. I've had some way-off-the-record discussions with people who know a few things about the subject, and I've also done my own testing for the two weeks since Windows 10 was released to the public.

Here's what I've learned. For more than a decade, one of the keys that Microsoft's activation servers have relied on is a unique ID, which is based on a hash of your hardware. That hash is reportedly not reversible and not tied to any other Microsoft services. So although it defines your device, it doesn't identify you. When you activate for the first time, that hashed value let's call it your installation ID is recorded in the activation database alongside the product key you entered with the installation.

Later, when you reinstall the same edition of Windows on the same hardware, with the same product key, it's activated automatically. Conversely, if you try to use that product key on a different machine with a different hardware ID, you'll probably be denied activation.

See update at the end of this post. When you upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8. If you're "genuine" that is, properly activated , the Windows activation server generates a Windows 10 license certificate Microsoft calls it a "digital entitlement" and stores it in conjunction with your installation ID and the version you just activated Home or Pro. It didn't need a product key to do that activation. All it needed was the proof from the Software Licensing Manager utility that your underlying activation was legit.

You can now wipe that hard disk completely, boot from Windows 10 installation media, and install a squeaky clean copy. The Setup program asks you to enter a product key, but in a major change from Windows 8 and 8. You'll be asked to enter that key a second time, later in setup, but you can skip past that box as well. When you finish the reinstall, assuming you used the same Windows 10 version on that hardware, you'll find it's automatically activated. I booted from Windows 10 installation media, a USB flash drive prepared by the Windows 10 Media Creation tool, and tried a clean install on a system that had never been activated for Windows I skipped both prompts to enter a product key.

My system failed activation. I reset the machine with its original, activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8. At the end of the process, I confirmed that Windows 10 was properly activated. I then wiped the hard drive clean and used the exact same media as in Step 1 to do a clean install of Windows As before, I skipped the product key entry. I used a Microsoft account in one test and used a local account in another.

After the installation was complete, the system showed that it had a properly activated copy of Windows You can, of course, buy a full or OEM copy of Windows 10 on a flash drive, and you can also buy product keys online. You can use that product key to do a clean install on a system that has never run Windows 10 and it will get a license certificate from the activation servers. And just like those upgraded PC, it should then allow you to do a clean install of the same Windows 10 edition without having to re-enter the product key.

Instead, from your current, activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8. Windows 10 is an IoT play too. Windows 10 is a key part of Microsoft's plan to be more of an Internet of things player. The catch is that few people see Microsoft putting the pieces together.

Choose the option I've highlighted at the bottom: The Windows 10 Setup program installs a clean copy of the edition that corresponds to the one you have installed. As part of the process, it verifies the activation status of your old Windows, creates the new license certificate, and blows away your previous install. And you never had to enter a product key. After you restart, your clean copy of Windows 10 is activated, and you can reinstall it any time without having to worry about activation.

And you'll never need a product key again. That's all well and good for those who are currently running Windows 7 or Windows 8. But what about those who did a clean install of a preview edition, never upgrading over a licensed copy? You can skip the product key during installation, but when you're done with Setup your system will be marked as not activated.

You won't be able to use any personalization options, and you'll have a persistent watermark on the desktop warning you that you need to activate. To "get genuine," you're going to need to do one of two things: I honestly have no idea how the telephone activation hotlines will respond to calls from Insiders who want to activate a copy for the first time. This is new territory for Microsoft and for its customers. In the comments, several people have asked what happens if you make changes to hardware.

As I noted earlier, Microsoft doesn't provide details of how it calculates that hardware hash, but upgrades of system components such as a video card or a hard drive won't normally trigger a reactivation. If that happens, a quick call to the activation line will resolve the issue, often without any human contact required, in minutes. The one exception is a motherboard replacement, which will inevitably cause the Software Licensing Management utility to recognize the device as a new PC and require reactivation, typically over the phone.

A motherboard upgrade, even if you reuse storage, video, memory, and a case, is considered a new PC. In that case, if the underlying Windows license is from a retail copy, that license can be transferred. If you are upgrading and not replacing a motherboard on an OEM PC that was sold with Windows preinstalled, the license agreement prevents the license from being transferred. Two Windows 10 feature updates a year is too many.

Windows 10 October Update: Microsoft releases fix for data deletion bug. Microsoft halts rollout of Windows 10 October Update: The five best new features for business. An innovative Windows laptop first announced in December is now, at long last, available to British buyers. For the first time in Windows Server history, Microsoft went straight from testing to general availability without RTMing its Windows Server release.

Windows 10 will banish Spectre slowdowns with Google's Retpoline patch. Microsoft's latest Windows 10 19H1 test build enables removal of more preinstalled apps. Microsoft is adding the ability to remove even more of its 'inbox' apps from Windows 10 in its latest test build of the 19H1 feature update. Chrome 70 opens up progressive web apps to Windows 10 users who don't want to use Edge or Microsoft Store. Windows 10 October update's new public rollout nears as Microsoft fixes more bugs.

Microsoft finds and fixes more glitches in Windows 10 October Update. Microsoft reveals that fraudsters are still fooling too many people. More people are wary of unsolicited contact from tech firms but tens of thousands still fall victim. Windows 10 BSOD problems: Microsoft offers up driver fix for HP crashes.

Blue screen of death crashes fixed by removing HP keyboard driver with known compatibility issues. Windows 10 audio problems? Intel issued buggy driver but we fixed it, says Microsoft. Intel accidentally pushed an incompatible audio driver to Windows 10 devices through Windows Update. More Windows 10 When should I upgrade? More than 75 million devices FAQ: You've got questions, Ed Bott's got answers Review: Goodbye, Windows 8; hello, Windows 10 How is Windows 10 really doing so far?

The changing face of Microsoft's My Profile Log Out. Windows 10 Two Windows 10 feature updates a year is too many.

Windows 10 Windows 10 October Update: Windows 10 Microsoft halts rollout of Windows 10 October Update: Enterprise Software Windows 10 October Update: Please review our terms of service to complete your newsletter subscription. You agree to receive updates, alerts and promotions from CBS and that CBS may share information about you with our marketing partners so that they may contact you by email or otherwise about their products or services.

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recordable activator windows

Microsoft quietly rewrites its activation rules for Windows 10

A MAK is recommended for computers that rarely or never connect to the corporate network and for environments in which the number of computers that require activation does not meet the KMS activation threshold. If the next computer is a virtual machine on a computer running Windows 10, it receives an activation count of 3, and so on. Activating as a standard user Windows 10, Windows 8. It sounds like you may be having issues due to a circular Windows Updates. Windows 10 will banish Spectre slowdowns with Google's Retpoline patch.

Activate clients running Windows 10

There are no open issues. Microsoft halts rollout of Windows 10 October Update: Therefore, only the 50 most recent client IDs are kept in the table, and a client ID could be removed much sooner than 30 days. Whether it is running on Windows Server R2, Windows Server , or Windows Server R2, continue to service the machine via security and quality updates. In some cases, you might need to enter the Windows 10 product key that either came with the device packaging, was included as a card, or that appears on the Certificate of Authenticity COA attached to the device. And you never had to enter a product key. Microsoft finds and fixes more glitches in Windows 10 October Update. Thanks for the question! Did this solve your problem?


recordable activator windows

You can change the default port. The total size of the cache is set by the type of client computer that is attempting to activate. Install this key on the KMS host. Windows 10 audio problems? The Windows PC you paid for, and the free upgrade you spent time installing, should just work. For help finding your product key, see Find your Windows product key. Windows 10 October Update: The product key or digital license can't be substituted for one another. Microsoft releases fix for data deletion bug. United Kingdom - English. One less server to maintain and update. As I noted earlier, Microsoft doesn't provide details of how it calculates that hardware hash, but upgrades of system components such as a video card or a hard drive won't normally trigger a reactivation. KMS uses a client—server topology. Client computers that receive a count below the activation threshold are not activated. After activating a KMS host, the same host can be reactivated up to nine times with the same key.

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