How to continue to Use Your Free Windows 10 License After Changing Your Hardware

Using Free Windows 10 License on changing Hardware

If you buy a new copy of Windows 10 you have a product key. In this case, the product key can be used to activate Windows. But there’s no product key if you’ve upgraded for free.

When you perform an upgrade from within Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or Windows 8.1, the upgrade process registers a unique ID associated with your PC’s hardware on Microsoft’s Windows activation servers.

In the future, whenever you install Windows 10 on that same PC, it will automatically report to Microsoft’s activation servers. Microsoft will confirm that the PC with that specific hardware configuration is allowed to use Windows 10, and it’ll automatically be activated.
If you just replace your hard drive or upgrading your graphics card, it shouldn’t cause a problem. If you’ve just changed a few peripherals, Windows 10 may just automatically activate itself after you clean-install it.

However, replacing your computer’s motherboard or CPU will likely prevent the PC from automatically activating. Windows 10 will see it as a different hardware configuration, one which isn’t allowed to have the free upgrade.

If you run into this problem, you should just be able to clean-install Windows 10 normally. Skip both prompts when you’re asked to enter a product key. After it installs, it will attempt to activate itself with Microsoft and won’t automatically activate. It will be considered non-genuine until you activate it. The activation screen will prompt you to purchase a new license from the Windows Store. You then have to contact support from within Windows 10:
Open the Start menu, select All Apps, and launch the Contact Support app included with Windows 10. Navigate to the Services & apps > Windows > Setting up category, which includes activation issues. You can text-chat with a Microsoft support representative here or have a Microsoft representative call you on the phone.

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