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On Windows 8.1 now, and leery of upgrading mainly because I have old software that I've been using for a loooong time, such as Paperport Deluxe 7.0 from the late 1990s.  Still works fine with my fairly new all in one, and I can access all my old scanned documents.

So I did downloaded Win 10 to a DVD and wonder if I can now wait to do the actual install after the deadline for the free upgrade?

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Windows 10 uses a 'digital' product key.
Your serial # of your CPU (I don't know how they know that), your current Ram Co... (more)

forbin4040 (Jul. 30, 2016 @ 10:01a) |

Legally speaking, you've never been allowed to do that.  OEM installs of Windows live and die on the PC you purchased th... (more)

minidrag (Jul. 30, 2016 @ 10:14a) |

Correct.  Install Windows, click on Skip when asked for the key.  After the install finishes Windows will check in with ... (more)

minidrag (Jul. 30, 2016 @ 10:15a) |

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Hmmm. You need to verify Windows 10 online so I think you could install but it will be an unregistered software? Not so sure.

Do the install to obtain the free license, then immediately roll it back to Windows 7.

capcdoc said:   Do the install to obtain the free license, then immediately roll it back to Windows 7.
  This, otherwise you will not be able to install without a key. 

Yup, no doubt about it. You must install and activate 10 before the free upgrade expires. Just downloading it does nothing.

To be clear, once activated on your PC you can install again, after the 29th, forever. I wasn't ready to upgrade so I put a blank drive in my machine, installed 10 on that, activated it using my Windows 7 key, then formatted the drive and put my 7 drive back in.

I now have a valid license for 10 so if / when I decide to upgrade to it I'm set.

So where do you download a Windows 10 install that works with a blank drive?  Presumably you have to have a DVD or USB with the install on it, correct?  Is that easy to get?

Asking because I like your approach and want to try it myself on 2 or 3 machines...

ChinaRider said:   So where do you download a Windows 10 install that works with a blank drive?  Presumably you have to have a DVD or USB with the install on it, correct?  Is that easy to get?

Asking because I like your approach and want to try it myself on 2 or 3 machines...

  I just use their (Microsoft) media creation tool to download the ISO.  You can download it at (http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10​... They also have instructions on creating a bootable USB drive.
 

Exactly. The MCT was made to let you create a bootable disk to install 10 either as an upgrade or as a fresh install. It's been that way since day 1.

So in summary, I should do the following:

  1. Create a bootable USB or DVD from the tools at the link provided by HTN above (or below, depending on how you view threads)
  2. Take an existing Windows 7 machine, remove the existing hard drive and drop in a new blank drive
  3. Boot from the USB or DVD in step 1 to install Windows 10
  4. Register with the Windows 7 key from the machine in question
  5. Remove the hard drive with Windows 10 on it and replace the original hard drive with Windows 7

That means I have my machine running exactly as it was but I have a legitimate Windows 10 installation tied to my Windows 7 key.  Is that correct?  Then I can either use the Windows 10 hard drive I created in step 3 or install fresh and activate with said Windows 7 key?  So long as the hardware hasn't changed I would still be good to go with Windows 10 when I'm ready to upgrade?

Last question (for now) - I have two machines that I installed Windows 7 on and I don't remember which machine has which key.  Is the key the same as the product ID I can see when I look at my computer properties?  If not, how do I find out which key is tied to which machine or does it not matter?

Thanks for the help.  I know what I'm doing this weekend... Shouldn't have waited this long...
 


  • That means I have my machine running exactly as it was but I have a legitimate Windows 10 installation tied to my Windows 7 key. Is that correct?
    Yes, all tied to the specific machine.
  • Then I can either use the Windows 10 hard drive I created in step 3 or install fresh and activate with said Windows 7 key? So long as the hardware hasn't changed I would still be good to go with Windows 10 when I'm ready to upgrade?
    Once you have activated your Windows 10 license on Microsoft's servers, you no longer need your Windows 7 key to re-activate your Win 10 license. Just skip the windows key request during your fresh install and it will automatically activate the license once you connect to the machine to the internet.
  • Last question (for now) - I have two machines that I installed Windows 7 on and I don't remember which machine has which key. Is the key the same as the product ID I can see when I look at my computer properties? If not, how do I find out which key is tied to which machine or does it not matter?
    It shouldn't matter which key is on which computer, as long as both have a valid & activated Windows 7 license. If you still want to find the Win 7 key used on each computer, I've been using the free Belarc Advisor tool. It will generate a detailed report of hardware/software on the PC. (http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html)
  • Thanks for the help. I know what I'm doing this weekend... Shouldn't have waited this long...
    The official deadline for the free upgrade is 11:59 p.m. UTC-10 on Friday, July 29. Depending on which time zone you are in, you may have a few more hours to play with. More info at this PCWorld article, Windows 10's free upgrade deadline will stretch into July 30, thanks to time zones


 

ChinaRider said:   That means I have my machine running exactly as it was but I have a legitimate Windows 10 installation tied to my Windows 7 key.  Is that correct?  Then I can either use the Windows 10 hard drive I created in step 3 or install fresh and activate with said Windows 7 key?  So long as the hardware hasn't changed I would still be good to go with Windows 10 when I'm ready to upgrade?

To be 100% legit, once you put the 7 drive back in, you should format the drive with 10.  You aren't allowed to have two installs of Windows running on the same license.  Nobody will ever know, of course, so it's not going to hurt anything, but... I'd just format the 10 drive.  By the time you are are ready to switch there will be a new version / updates anyway so you'll want to start fresh.


Thanks for the help.  I know what I'm doing this weekend... Shouldn't have waited this long...

Luckily the install of 10 on a blank drive is very quick - 30 minutes or so should do it.  If you have a spare SSD it's even faster.
 

  

So I downloaded the media creation tool, created a bootable USB drive, installed Windows 10 on a blank hard drive.  Everything worked fine except I can't activate it.

I installed Windows 10 Pro as I have Windows 7 Professional.  It won't accept my Windows 7 key for activation.  Returns error code 0xc004f210.

Any ideas?  Should I have installed some kind of 'upgrade' version?

On hold with Microsoft now, I have my reservations as to how much help their phone support will be...

Microsoft phone support indicated that you cannot do a clean install of Windows 10 and activate it with a Windows 7 product key.  That seems to contradict what you all are saying.  Obviously I have no doubt you all aren't feeding me a line of bull so perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you did.

At this point I think I'm going to start with the same blank hard drive, install Windows 7 and activate it with my key and then upgrade to Windows 10 via the 'Windows Update' method...

If you guys are reading this, chime in with your thoughts, please.  Might be a long day... that's what I get for procrastinating...

Back again...

Successfully installed Windows 10 on two machines.  Recorded the new product key from each machine so I feel comfortable that I should be able to install Windows 10 from a clean install down the road.  I had to do the actual 'upgrade' versus installing Windows 10 from scratch on a blank hard drive.  Added about an hour to each machine since I had to install Windows 7 fresh first and then upgrade.  Not sure why it worked that way when you all seemed to be able to use your prior Window's version product key to activate a fresh install of Windows 10.

Another odd thing was that one of the machines had the verbiage about 'digital entitlement' alluding to the fact that it was a free upgrade whereas the other did not.

One more install on a laptop and I'm done.

ChinaRider said:   Microsoft phone support indicated that you cannot do a clean install of Windows 10 and activate it with a Windows 7 product key.  That seems to contradict what you all are saying.  Obviously I have no doubt you all aren't feeding me a line of bull so perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you did.
 

  No clue why someone from MS would tell you that.  I've done several clean installs using a 7 key and a few with 8 keys.  I know dozens of people (well, know via forums) that have done the same.  I know a rep from Microsoft, too, who has confirmed from MS that this is a legit method.

Also, there have been plenty of articles written about it.  Since build 1511 you could use a key from 7/8.  Heck, here's one from MS:
"Starting with the November update, Windows 10 (Version 1511) can be activated using some Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 product keys. For more info, see the section Activating Windows 10 (Version 1511 or higher) using a Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 product key in this topic."

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/12440/windows-10-activa...

ChinaRider said:   Back again...

Successfully installed Windows 10 on two machines.  Recorded the new product key from each machine so I feel comfortable that I should be able to install Windows 10 from a clean install down the road.
 

  You do not need a key to reinstall.  When you activate 10 the PC info is stored by MS.  When you clean install, later, you click on Skip when asked for a key.  When the install finishes it will activate automatically.  This method is direct from MS.  I've tested it, too.

Yeah, I know.  I saw the same information when I searched.  That said, neither machine would accept my Windows 7 key with a clean Windows 10 install.

Both keys are from MSDNAA from when I was in grad school.  Perhaps that has something to do with it.

I guess I'd be able to remove that as a variable if I had a spare laptop hard drive.  As it is, I'm upgrading the laptop by simply using the Windows 10 update.  I made a disk image first.
 

ChinaRider said:   
Both keys are from MSDNAA from when I was in grad school.  Perhaps that has something to do with it.
 

  Yes, that is why.  MSDN is not upgradeable to 10 for free.  OEM, Retail, and Open VL are.  MSDN is meant for testing / lab work.  It is not supposed to be used for working / production machines.

Aha.  I'm surprised that it worked, then.  Since I'm not even using Windows 10 it doesn't matter to me.  Guess it'll be interesting to see if I do indeed use these machines with Windows 10 down the road whether or not it accepts these new product keys that were assigned to each install just now (because you know I'd have to try...  probably about the time Windows 12 comes out at the rate I move).

Thanks as always for the help.  Nice to have a sounding board when I'm tinkering.

No problem. It hadn't even occurred to me to ask what kind of license you had. I don't know what will happen with those 10 installs in the future. Maybe they'll keep working, maybe they'll eventually give you some kind of licensing error.

forbin4040 said:   
capcdoc said:   Do the install to obtain the free license, then immediately roll it back to Windows 7.
  This, otherwise you will not be able to install without a key. 

  Thanks to everyone for the help.  I installed Win 10 a few days ago and so far, everything is working, even my old Paperport.  My laptop does take longer to boot, however.

Followup question: where do I find the license or product key?  I can find a product ID but I don't think that's the same thing. On the other hand, some posts indicate that Microsoft now has a record and I won't need it in the future if for some reason I need to reinstall on the same computer.

Windows 10 uses a 'digital' product key.
Your serial # of your CPU (I don't know how they know that), your current Ram Configuration (I assume slots and total ram usage), your current HD configuration.

You are allowed to change '1' thing per boot. (I have never tried changing the CPU). When you install windows 10 and tell it to skip activation, it sends those 3 items up to M$ and if M$ sees two of the 3, it authorizes the 3rd and allows the activation (Of course if all 3 are there, it works).

Now what's the downside to this? If you don't have a Windows 10 Product key (Which comes in a retail box) you cannot transfer the software to a fully different computer. If you upgraded, your product key is 'XXXX' (Same for all upgraded computers) and they use their database to confirm.

forbin4040 said:   
Now what's the downside to this? If you don't have a Windows 10 Product key (Which comes in a retail box) you cannot transfer the software to a fully different computer.
 

  Legally speaking, you've never been allowed to do that.  OEM installs of Windows live and die on the PC you purchased them with.

frugalpete said:   
Followup question: where do I find the license or product key?  I can find a product ID but I don't think that's the same thing. On the other hand, some posts indicate that Microsoft now has a record and I won't need it in the future if for some reason I need to reinstall on the same computer.
 

  Correct.  Install Windows, click on Skip when asked for the key.  After the install finishes Windows will check in with MS, will find your license, and will activate.



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