Windows 10 Product Key And Activation: How To Find It And How It Works

Here’s what you need to know about how to discover your Windows 10 product key and how activation works on free upgrade against new retail Windows 10 copies. No problem whether you used Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade offer or got a new license off retail, MSDN and the likes. Check it out right after this jump in an unique way.


Find Windows 10 free upgrade product keys and activation process:

If you upgraded your PC to Windows 10 from a genuine copy of either Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 7, your license will be merged to the hardware you upgrade on, not your Microsoft account, and you won’t get any product key either. What actually it means, is that your Windows 10 upgrade is only a matter of a free update presented by Microsoft if you have got a genuine product key on which you are tied up with, and that can’t be said as a fresh, clean installation using a retail copies of Windows 10 either.

You can verify this using any third-party product key fetching software like ProduKey or The Ultimate PID Checker. Where they will show you generic product keys like – TX9XD-98N7V-6WMQ6-BX7FG-H8Q99 for Windows 10 Home and VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T for Windows 10 Pro edition.

Now comes the actual point, what if you want to clean install Windows 10 on the same machine? Best way available to do so, and that is, first of all by downloading an ISO file, turning it into a USB drive or create DVD media and then running the setup for fresh install. During clean install, when Windows setup asks you for product key, simply skip the step and let it complete the whole installation. Once Windows 10 install completes, your copy of Windows will activate automatically as soon as you connect to Internet. This is because Microsoft knows you clean installed on the same hardware. You can hereby always check your activation status from either Settings (WinKey+I) > Update & Security > Activation:

Or from Control Panel > System and Security > System:

Wait! Once you down the road and decide to change the hardware, you will of course need to call Microsoft assistance (support), inform them about the change to get your copy activated genuinely.

The TLDR  version of this is: If you used Windows 10 free upgrade option, you won’t get a unique product key. Your license will be fixed to the hardware you upgraded Windows 10 on, and no way you can use the product key on other hardware, and if you do so it will simply says that its not a genuine key anymore. Clean installs will activate automatically as long as they are done on the same hardware. And that is final!

Windows 10 retail product key and activation:

Bought retail license of Windows 10, or got a genuine product key either from MSDN, DreamSpark, TechNet and the likes, you obviously have a unique key for the Windows 10 product that you can enter in Windows setup during clean installations. In case you lose this number, you can use third-party softwares like ProduKey (download link) to find it on an existing installation.

Update x1: Until then there’s no issue, but problem arise if these keys are not tied to any hardware and impossible to find it if you end up selling your PC that had Windows 10 activated using a retail product key. No worry!

Using the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, you can now link these retail and digital licenses of Windows 10 to your Microsoft account. Advantage? Fortunately when you get a new PC, you can simply sign in with your Microsoft account that had a product key linked and your new PC will have Windows 10 activated.

To link your product key to a Microsoft account, navigate to Settings (WinKey+1) > Update & Security > Activation on your existing PC and see it’s activated with the genuine product key. Next, on the same Activation page, you will find a Add a Microsoft Account section. Simple click on Add an account and then sign in using your Microsoft account. Once you have connected your account to your PC, The Add a Microsoft Account section from Activation page should disappear and you should now have “Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account” written right next to Activation label, as can be seen in the screenshot below.


Your digital/retail product key license is now successfully linked to your Microsoft account.

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