New rules for activation

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Product activation has been a part of Windows for the past 15 years, starting with Windows XP. Like its predecessors, Windows 10 requires activation as part of the license agreement. Typically, that process is automatic, with Windows checking a product key (or other authorized method) against an activation server to confirm that the installed version of Windows matches the product key, and the device is authorized to use the associated Windows license.

Windows 10 allows you to complete setup without entering a product key, for reasons I explain a bit later in this section. You can skip the product key and postpone activation, but doing so means certain features aren’t available.

The concept of activation using a “digital entitlement” is new in Windows 10 and is created when you upgrade a PC that is currently running a properly activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. If you start Setup from within that older Windows version, you do not need to enter a product key. Windows confirms that the underlying system is properly activated and creates a digital entitlement based on the unique hardware ID. (This behavior, of course, is predicated on the free upgrade offer that runs for one year after the initial release of Windows 10. Microsoft hasn’t said what will happen on July 29, 2016, when that year is up.)

If you are using bootable installation media to perform a clean install on a PC that was previously upgraded and given a digital entitlement, you do not need to enter a product key during setup. After the installation is complete, Windows contacts the activation servers and sends the hardware ID. (It’s hashed, so it can’t be used to identify the specific device.) When the server finds a stored digital entitlement for that hardware ID, the system is activated automatically.

If you are using bootable installation media to perform a clean install on a PC that has never been upgraded to Windows 10 and activated, you will need to enter a product key to activate the system. If your installation media is for Windows 10 version 1511 (build 10586) or later, you can enter a product key from a matching edition of Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1. That option also results in a digital entitlement, and there’s no further need to enter that product key.

You can see even more detailed activation information about the current Windows installation by opening an administrative Command Prompt window and entering the command slmgr.vbs /dlv.


Of course, other activation options are available as well:

■ New PCs with Windows 10 preinstalled by the manufacturer are activated automatically by the OEM. The license information is coded into the firmware of the device, allowing reinstallation of the same Windows 10 edition without requiring a product key.

■ Retail and OEM copies available through resellers include a product key that can be used to activate a specific Windows 10 edition that has never been activated.

■ Volume License customers can use Multiple Activation Keys or a Key Management Server to activate properly licensed copies of Windows 10 Enterprise.

Source of Information : Microsoft Introducing Windows 10 For IT Professionals

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