Windows 10 license, or hold your boards!



  • So I have Windows 10, upgraded from 8. Everything works fine. One day I decide to upgrade my hardware and buy new motherboard + CPU + RAM. Oh, silly me thinking everything will be ok, with MS involved. Windows 10 starts, all fine, and then decides to deactivate itself. Having a nice "activate Windows" sign permanently on my screen, I decide to go to (one of the) control panel(s) and click "activate". Nope - no option there, just contact support. OK, let's contact support and have a chat. Nope, no chat option, just schedule a call. And sometimes later I get a call, explain the situation, and basically get told to fuck off. By "fuck off" I mean I have to either:

    • Essentially format my drive and make a clean install of Windows 8 and upgrade to 10.
    • Format my drive, buy a copy of Windows 10, and install it.

    Apparently, upgrading your PC is a big "no no" in current era. But I can always loose all my stuff, buy another copy, install everything again, and restore stuff from backup. I think I must schedule another call with the support team.

    On the bright side - it's still better than updating Tizen.



  • As I understood it, in their model, your motherboard is the PC. If you replace that, you need a new win10 license. Except if your win10 is an upgrade from a transferable win7/win8, in which case you should be able to transfer the license.

    IIRC, YMMV, HTH, HAND.



  • That's so retarded. It means you really cannot upgrade anything beyond your GPU, or add some RAM/storage.



  • I replaced the CPU, motherboard, RAM at the end of last year and Windows 10 just activated without issue.
    Didn't even need to install Windows 8 first - just put the Windows 8.1 key into the Windows 10 installer and activated without issue.


  • BINNED

    I always thought the CPU is also a factor? Though I have no solid data on that, just hear-say.



  • You reinstalled Windows. I don't want to go through all the hassle of restoring everything, since it's still my copy and my PC.



  • @NeighborhoodButcher said:

    motherboard + CPU + RAM

    Good grief, if you upgraded one thing and Windows had a conniption, then I'd see your side of the argument, but you basically built a brand-new computer and stuck the old hard drive in it.

    Your best bet is: Transfer all your files to external storage for backup, and then reinstall Windows.



  • @NeighborhoodButcher said:

    You reinstalled Windows.

    Well yeah. I misread what you put - I thought you meant you'd reinstalled it once just for it to deactivate itself.

    Didn't have much choice in reinstalling, couldn't carry the RAID volume over onto the new motherboard.


  • SockDev

    My understanding is that Windows takes a fingerprint of the whole system, and it monitors how that fingerprint changes; if the print changes sufficiently, Windows requires reactivation. Different components contribute differing amounts; RAM contributes pretty much nothing, the motherboard contributes a lot.

    Generally speaking, upgrading a single component won't trigger a reactivation. But changing both motherboard and CPU is essentially a new PC, so you need reactivation or even a new/transferred license.



  • @anotherusername said:

    Your best bet is: Transfer all your files to external storage for backup, and then reinstall Windows.

    Here lies the problem. First, I should never be forced to reinstall. The system should install new drivers (as it did) and just work, since it has already been activated. Second, my reinstall options are limited to reinstalling 8 and upgrading to 10 (which is retarded and will repeat itself in the future), or buy a new copy of 10 (which is even more retarded, since I already own one).



  • @RaceProUK said:

    But changing both motherboard and CPU is essentially a new PC, so you need reactivation or even a new/transferred license.

    The thing that's a bit daft (IMO) here is that replacing the motherboard etc on the same installation won't let you reactivate it - but reinstalling Windows with the exact same license activates without issue.
    Either the license works with the hardware or it doesn't.



  • @NeighborhoodButcher said:

    my reinstall options are limited to reinstalling 8 and upgrading to 10

    The Windows 10 installer will accept the Windows 8 key and just activate. No need to install 8/8.1 first.



  • But I don't have a Windows 10 installer - I've upgraded from 8.



  • @NeighborhoodButcher said:

    But I don't have a Windows 10 installer - I've upgraded from 8.

    So did I.
    You can download the Windows 10 install media.



  • Ok, that's some progress. Still, the whole notion of being forced to do that is a big WTF in my eyes.



  • @NeighborhoodButcher said:

    Still, the whole notion of being forced to do that is a big WTF in my eyes.

    Yeah, agreed.



  • @NeighborhoodButcher said:

    The system should install new drivers (as it did) and just work

    :rofl:

    @NeighborhoodButcher said:

    it has already been activated

    How's it supposed to know that you didn't just clone the hard drive and not running it on two computers now? It's exactly what @RaceProUK said.

    @NeighborhoodButcher said:

    reinstalling 8 and upgrading to 10 (which is retarded and will repeat itself in the future)

    Only if you plan to upgrade your whole entire computer again.



  • Just to make sure, you don't still have the option to downgrade to 8.1 right?

    Anyway, I think Windows 10 can be used forever without activation, with only those annoying notifications, so that's an option. But you should always be ready for a reinstall because you never know when something is going to fuck up your installation, and the only way to fix Windows is a reinstall.



  • Done that with previous upgrade using Windows 7. Worked like a charm. I call current situation a regress.



  • @anotherusername said:

    How's it supposed to know that you didn't just clone the hard drive and not running it on two computers now?

    How would it know he didn't just install it on another computer and have the other one still running?



  • The only other operating system I know of where you have to reinstall it when you change hardware is an extremely riced Gentoo.



  • @anotherusername said:

    How's it supposed to know that you didn't just clone the hard drive and not running it on two computers now?

    IIRC, both computers occasionally verify their authenticity. The old one will error out next time it checks. Probably.



  • Probably when it does the Genuine Windows check, yeah.


  • SockDev

    @loopback0 said:

    Either the license works with the hardware or it doesn't.

    yeah. it's a WTF and shouldn't exist.

    Basically what happened is @NeighborhoodButcher has a transferable license for windows 8, he then upgraded that install to Windows 10 and got a nontransferable license for windows 10 in the bargain.

    because of windows licensing rules he can transfer the windows 8 license and reupgrade, getting a new nontransferable license for windows 10, but he can't transfer the windows 10 license.

    it's stupid, and shitty, and shame on windows for making people jump through hoops like that, but.... well you don't have much of an option there.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    My Win7 decided to deactivate itself and refuse to reactivate like 3 years ago.

    I've just ignored the nag messages (which are only really annoying when they pop you out of a game).

    In related news, I've been promising myself I'd build a new machine 'next month' for 3 years.



  • @anotherusername said:

    @NeighborhoodButcher said:
    The system should install new drivers (as it did) and just work

    :rofl:

    Yeah, I'm impressed that Windows even booted successfully. Windows 10 might be the first version of Windows that can manage that. Historically, Windows has failed pretty spectacularly if you swap out a significant amount of hardware.



  • One step forwards and (in this particular scenario) one step back.



  • Bonus WTF: just filled an application for a job on MS site and got: "You have applied for 0 jobs.". Well, fuck you sideways MS!


  • area_can

    Well, you can't upgrade the CPU/mobo/RAM on tablets. so there's really no reason for win10 to support such a feature. :trolleybus:



  • @NeighborhoodButcher said:

    Bonus WTF: just filled an application for a job on MS site and got: "You have applied for 0 jobs.". Well, fuck you sideways MS!

    Well, at least they're being honest.



  • @Dragnslcr said:

    Well, at least they're being honest.

    Or their licensing team made the careers page too.



  • It's been that way forever. And in any case, you still have a valid Windows 10 license, you just need to reinstall Windows 8 to get at it. (Which is, I agree, kind of dumb.)



  • IIRC when I was doing my upgrade, the way it works is when you do an upgrade install from 8 -> 10, Windows will actually send your Windows 8 key to MS and get it marked as a Windows 10 key. From that point on, you should be able to clean-install Windows 10 (or Windows 8, for that matter) from that same key.

    But I'm no expert.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Nah, not fixed in 10. Was fixed in Vista, but driver issues persisted.

    Basically, it boiled down to GPT over MBR. With MBR partitioning, the individual driver implementation can enumerate drives more or less any way it wants, meaning there was no way for the bootloader to pass a reliable "you are installed on this partition" message to the OS if that had changed.

    GPT whacks a GUID on the partitions, making them properly addressable.

    That fixed 90 percent of the problems (if you used GPT for boot, which was uncommon until recently because PC hardware enthusiasts are actually all closet Luddites)

    The remaining issues were hardware vendors who had written drivers that went apeshit if they were loaded and the hardware wasn't present. Some driver model tweaks fixed that.



  • @NeighborhoodButcher said:

    Bonus WTF: just filled an application for a job on MS site and got: "You have applied for 0 jobs.". Well, fuck you sideways MS!

    Maybe your resume is so awful it got insta-rejected.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Maybe your resume is so awful it got insta-rejected.

    They probably saw Samsung there.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    From that point on, you should be able to clean-install Windows 10

    That's exactly how it worked for me.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @Weng said:

    written drivers that went apeshit if they were loaded and the hardware wasn't present

    Yeah, my nVidia installation seems to crash the desktop when I right-click it if the card is disabled. Or was it the Intel Integrated ones?


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    I think your problem comes from upgrading all three of those at once - IIRC there's a limit to things that can change before Windows decides it's on a "new" PC, and you probably hit them...


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @anonymous234 said:

    Just to make sure, you don't still have the option to downgrade to 8.1 right?

    He should. It will likely bork all the things but it should be possible.


  • Dupa

    @anonymous234 said:

    and the only way to fix Windows is a reinstall of Ubuntu over Windows.

    Here, FTFY HTH HAND.


  • BINNED

    @anonymous234 said:

    and the only way to fix Windows is a reinstall of Fedora Workstation + CinnamonUbuntu over Windows.
    @kt_ said:
    Here, FTFY HTH HAND.

    Here, FTFTFY



  • @NeighborhoodButcher said:

    the whole notion of being forced to do that is a big WTF in my eyes.

    Quite so. That's why the cool kids change their product key to the generic KMS (key management server) volume licence key, then put a PyKMS server somewhere on their LAN or even on the workstation itself.

    Bonus feature of this method: it annoys @blakeyrat, who will call you a thief for using it.



  • @Dragnslcr said:

    Historically, Windows has failed pretty spectacularly if you swap out a significant amount of hardware.

    In my experience, all versions of Windows since Windows 2000 will adapt OK to any change except for the disk controller. If you're booting via a proprietary driver, and that driver won't also control your replacement disk controller, Windows will BSOD.

    If you roll the disk controller driver back to Standard IDE Controller (or whatever the modern Microsoft-provided equivalent is these days) before swapping over the hardware, Windows usually comes up OK on new hardware. You can do the same thing with the graphics card as well if you like; if you don't you might need to exercise the "boot in VGA mode" option off the F8 boot menu.



  • To be exact, the way Windows 10 activates when you do an upgrade is that the motherboard serial number in SMBIOS is used to verify your license. If you happen to have a shitty MB that has all zeroes (I had), the activation goes poof anyway and you need to do the whole process from the beginning.

    If you trash a PC/MB with Windows 10 upgrade license activated, copy the serial number out with dmidecode or something so you can install an activating Windows 10 VM if you happen to need one.



  • @flabdablet said:

    Bonus feature of this method: it annoys @blakeyrat, who will call you a thief for using it.

    What if I buy a license, then do that anyway? I'm technically pirating, but I'm not really getting anything I didn't pay for.



  • That's what I do. I don't mind buying licenses for the software I use, but I refuse to be jerked around by bullshit technical enforcement mechanisms.



  • @accalia said:

    got a nontransferable license digital entitlement for windows 10

    :pendant:



  • Bringing back this topic to post what looks like good news for the future:

    As part of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update and starting with this Insider Preview build, we’re introducing the Activation Troubleshooter that will help you address most commonly encountered activation issues on Genuine Windows devices including those caused by hardware changes. In addition, we're introducing the ability to link your Microsoft account (MSA) to the activation digital license with this Insider Preview build. If you already used an MSA to log in to your activated Windows 10 Home or Pro device, your MSA will be automatically linked. You can use this MSA linked digital license to re-activate your Genuine Windows 10 device by running the Activation troubleshooter, if you run into Activation issues caused by hardware changes.

    Now the main question is, will this allow changing motherboards with OEM licenses? Changing motherboards seems to be the primary issue with Windows licenses currently.


  • kills Dumbledore

    @LB_ said in Windows 10 license, or hold your boards!:

    motherboards with OEM licenses

    I did that, along with everything else bar the graphics card, and just had to enter my original Windows 7 key


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