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  • Windows 10 Activation Question

    Posted on 7ProSP1 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 10 Questions: Win10 Windows 10 Activation Question

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      • #2296352 Reply
        AskWoody Lounger

        I was able to pick up an open box deal from a big box store on a desktop that comes with Win 10 Home pre-installed.  I have no intention of ever activating Win 10 on this system as I would much rather install a genuine copy of Win 8.1 I have on it instead.

        Since this computer will end up having an unactivated copy of Windows 10 Home with a COA sticker on it, could I eventually install it on another HDD in the future if I wanted to?  I see no reason why I couldn’t as it wouldn’t be tied to any previous hardware configuration but I nevertheless wanted to check to be sure.

      • #2296358 Reply
        Da Boss

        They usually don’t put COA stickers on Win10 machines anymore. I believe the license key is in the BIOS these days.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2296365 Reply
        AskWoody Lounger

        I have to admit I never even took the case out of the open box yet but you are undoubtedly correct.

        In any case, would I be able to use the license key on an entirely different HDD if this copy of Win 10 Home was never activated on this desktop?

      • #2296396 Reply
        AskWoody MVP

        If on a different PC, then NO. The key is tied to the original machine. If you mean on a different drive in the same PC so you can dual boot then YES. You may have to contact Microsoft to explain that you replaced the original drive.


        • #2296441 Reply
          AskWoody Lounger

          If on a different PC, then NO. The key is tied to the original machine.

          Well technically the license is what is tied to the original machine and the key is just stored on the motherboard…

          When installing Windows on a different HDD but without changing other parts, it’ll most likely (say 85% chance) activate automatically just fine.

          It’s if you have to replace the motherboard when you’re more likely to have to do something more complicated like contact Microsoft. Still, that should be allowed too if it’s a “repair” of the “same system”, even if the part that stored the key was the one that broke.

          • #2296485 Reply
            AskWoody MVP

            You are correct. It is the license that is tied to the original machine. BTW, Microsoft considers a new motherboard to be a new PC. You will most definitely have to contact them and maybe explain/argue a bit to get WIndows activated.


            • #2296552 Reply
              AskWoody Lounger

              That’s why you want to have a receipt for “spare part for repairs” for the motherboard.

              Of course if it’s an official spare part for a PC that came with an OEM Windows license, it might well have a key of its own anyway. And if done by a vendor-authorized technician the serial number may end up the same as original too, but that’s not for the DIY folks.

      • #2296424 Reply
        AskWoody Lounger

        Recently there was a question and discussion on a similar topic. See

        Legal issue: the same system on two PCs?

      • #2296495 Reply
        AskWoody MVP

        Eleven years ago I exchanged multiple emails with Microsoft Customer Service concerning using the same copy/license of XP to dual boot on the same machine, on different hard drives installed in that machine.  I got this as a final answer 8/9/2009.

        “Hello Bruce,
        Thank you for contacting Microsoft Customer Service again.

        I am Nivedita Paul’s colleague and we apologize for the inconvenience caused to you.

        According to Microsoft Software License Terms, retail version Windows XP can be installed on only one computer at any given point of time. This also applies to the hard drives. Please note that one is not allowed to install Windows XP on 2 or more drives on the same computer.

        For detailed licensing information, please visit: and select the self-explanatory drop down options from the web site.
        If you have further questions, please do contact us.

        Thank you,

        Microsoft Customer Service”

        The EULA for Windows 10 makes it clear that one copy can be installed on only one machine, and only a retail copy (sold seperately, not pre-installed by the OEM) can be moved from one machine to another machine.

        Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
        "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns
        "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

      • #2296617 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        Depending on what hardware is in the box, you may find there are ZERO device drivers in Win 8.1 for it!

        I recall several years ago reading that Microsoft had made ‘deal’s with various PC component manufacturers to only create Windows 10 compatible device drivers for their new hardware.  That may still be in effect today.  So look before you leap.

        Also, installing your existing Win 8.1 on a new computer would trigger ‘pirate copy’ issues with Microsoft when it gets to registering it.  I had that happen when I moved a Win 10 SSD from a friends’ old laptop that was being junked to a newer laptop that was faster (my old laptop that I replaced).  Fortunately, it was only a phone call to Redmond (or Timbuktu) to get it straightened out with their systems.

        Lastly, I started kicking and screaming and threatened to throw several of my friends’ Win 10 computers out the window when they asked me for help.  I finally ‘made peace’ with Win 10 by purchasing a new laptop about a year ago.  That way, I could fuss and fume over it until I ‘got its mind right’ and made it look for all intents and purposes like the Win 7 I still had on my big computer.  The biggest trick was finding out where Windows 10 ‘hid’ stuff I regularly used.  I ended up removing all those <expletive deleted> tiles and putting shortcuts for the most frequently used Win 7 components on the desktop, like ‘services’, ‘command prompt’ etc.  I also put Win 10 Powershell’ on the desktop as that gets used a lot, too.  Shortcuts to ‘my documents’ and each of the MS Office functions I use are on the desktop as before, too.  I finally gave in to the Borg ‘resistance is futile’ in December and upgraded to Win 10 Pro.

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