Windows 10 Activation/Upgrade/Clean Install FAQ

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a5cent

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If you think any other questions should be included in this FAQ, please mention it below and I'll see what I can do.

1. Can I activate W10 using my W8 or W7 license key?

No. W10 can't be activated with anything but a W10 license key.

A W10 key is acquired by either:

a) purchasing a retail copy of W10, or by
b) doing an in-place upgrad of your genuine and activated W8.x or W7.1 installation (while being connected to the internet!)

Option (b) does the following:

a) creates a new W10 license key based on your existing/active/installed license key
b) stores the W10 license key in the cloud
b) creates a key that identifies the hardware your copy of W10 is running on and associates that with your new W10 license key

From here on out (for the machine you installed W10 onto) W10 will no longer require you to provide any key for activation purposes.

After having done the above, you can also clean-install W10 from any source (USB thumb drive, DVD, Media Creation Tool) without requiring a license key. See (2) below for more information.


2. I did a W10 clean-install from bootable media (ISO, USB Drive, DVD, etc). Now I can't activate W10. What's up?

Prior to doing a clean install, you must have done an in-place upgrade of your W8.x or W7 installation at least once. Whether that occurred before the 29th with an insiders preview install or afterwards doesn't matter. It just must have occurred. Failing that, MS will have no online record of your upgraded W10 license key nor of the hardware it was associated with.

See (1) above for more information.

After having done an in-place upgrade, you can then clean-install W10 and skip all the prompts where the setup process asks you for a W10 key. At the end of the setup process, once you've gone online, Windows will notice your valid W10 license that was previously stored in the cloud and use it to activate W10.


3. I'm not getting a prompt to upgrade my W8.x or W7 installation. Why not? What should I do?

The W10 rollout is staggered. Those who reserved W10 early will be able to upgrade sooner. You might not be scheduled for the update quite yet, but you can force an update.

This WCentral article explains one of your options, and this one explains more. The issue is also being discussed in this thread.

Last but not least, you can also download the media creation tool, run it, and then choose the "Upgrade this PC now" option. This also does an in-place upgrade, not a clean install.


4. Where can I download the official installation media to do a clean install?

Windows 10 media creation tool
Windows 8.1 media creation tool
Windows 7.1 ISO download


5. "Windows not activated" after clean install. Attempting activation results in error code: 0xC004C003. What now?

You're likely a victim of some of MS' activation servers being overloaded.

MS has sent out e-mails stating that waiting for a day or two should automatically resolve the issue. This has also been confirmed by MS support staff, and many of our members in the forum.
 
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knight820

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I have a desktop installed windows 8.1 with genuine license, and then upgraded to preview build 10162 through iso, and updated to 10240 then opt out insider program.
Would my desktop keep activated and stay genuine?
 
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a5cent

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I have a desktop installed windows 8.1 with genuine license, and then upgraded to preview build 10162 through iso, and updated to 10240 then opt out insider program.
Would my desktop keep activated and stay genuine?

I've deleted the original response because you edited your post since I first replied.

Nowhere have you stated that you did an in-place upgrade from W8.1. Without that the answer is "no".
 
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Draganta

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Help! Cant activate! I did NOT use a 8.1 key but the mods keep saying that in my topics... please read my posts before closing, thank you :)

I get the error 0xC004F034 that I have a invalid licence, I just did an upgrade, I did not use a 8.1 key or entered any key. What can I do?
 

Draganta

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So... There was no Key on your 8.1 system?

It reads for a valid key on the outgoing. It needs to find one. That gets converted to a new key.

What do you mean you did not use a key?

I just updated from my valid Windows 8.1, the laptop is done upgrading now, and it has the same issue. I just cant activate. Both upgraded from a legit Windows 8.1 I bought.
 

areithropos

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I have the same issues. I am unable to activate my Acer Iconia W510. I used a program to read out its key just in case I need it in the future but the key does not work with Windows 10.

Actually it should have worked automatically because my Iconia uses UEFI and has its key saved inside its BIOS and therefore Windows is able to read it out by itself.
 

RumoredNow

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I have the same issues. I am unable to activate my Acer Iconia W510. I used a program to read out its key just in case I need it in the future but the key does not work with Windows 10.

Actually it should have worked automatically because my Iconia uses UEFI and has its key saved inside its BIOS and therefore Windows is able to read it out by itself.

The Upgrade should read your old key and convert to a new key. The old key will not activate 10.
 

Albert_Elliot

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Hey guys!
I have a Windows Single Language in Portuguese, but I want to change the display language to English, to use Cortana. But since its a "single language", I don't know if its possible. Can you guys help me here?

Thanks
 

pjm1891

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So I upgraded my SurfacePro3 and now it won't activate Windows 10. Did the upgrade from the icon in Win8 taskbar next to the clock.
 

Isror

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So far not having any luck with upgrading a licensed Windows 8.1 box to 10 and then doing a clean install to 10. After I sign in, still no joy on the licensing.
 

a5cent

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Help! Cant activate! I did NOT use a 8.1 key but the mods keep saying that in my topics... please read my posts before closing, thank you

We're trying our best, but you're not communicating very clearly. Above you stated the following:

I just updated from my valid Windows 8.1, the laptop is done upgrading now, and it has the same issue. I just cant activate. Both upgraded from a legit Windows 8.1 I bought.

I understand this to mean you went through the in-place upgrade process on both of your machines. However, in the thread that I closed you made a different statement:

Before we start, let me say: I did not use a Windows 8.1 key, I just upgraded Windows 8.1 with the Media creation tool.

That you used the "media creation tool" tells me that you did a clean install from a USB Drive or DVD. That's not the same thing. If this is in fact what you did, then then the first entry in the FAQ tells you what isn't working. Based on my understanding of what you wrote, I'd still close your thread and link you to this thread.

I'm not sure I understand what you actually did anymore.
 

Scorpio5x0

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I upgraded one of my Windows 7 computers via ISO. It would not activate online or activate via phone. I was told by the Microsoft rep that there is an issue with activation via ISO. He advised that there were two options rollback to Windows 7 and then wait for Win 10 through Windows Updates or go to the Windows Store and purchase a new key. Has anyone been able to activate via ISO?
 

a5cent

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I have the same issues. I am unable to activate my Acer Iconia W510. I used a program to read out its key just in case I need it in the future but the key does not work with Windows 10.

Actually it should have worked automatically because my Iconia uses UEFI and has its key saved inside its BIOS and therefore Windows is able to read it out by itself.

You're not providing enough information for anyone to help you:

- What was installed on your machine before you started? W10 TP? W8.1? Something else?
- Did you do an in-place upgrade, or did you do a clean install from installation media?
- At what stage are you in the setup/upgrade process where the installer is asking you to provide the key?

Either way, you appear to be trying to activate W10 with a W? key and that has never worked in the history of Windows.
 

a5cent

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I upgraded one of my Windows 7 computers via ISO. It would not activate online or activate via phone. I was told by the Microsoft rep that there is an issue with activation via ISO. He advised that there were two options rollback to Windows 7 and then wait for Win 10 through Windows Updates or go to the Windows Store and purchase a new key. Has anyone been able to activate via ISO?

This is exactly the issue that is answered by the first item in the FAQ at the top of this thread!

If you don't understand something let me know what and I'll try to make it clearer.
 

Scorpio5x0

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This is exactly the issue that is answered by the first item in the FAQ at the top of this thread!

If you don't understand something let me know what and I'll try to make it clearer.

When upgrading your system is the update process not supposed to convert your Win 7 license to a Win 10 license or am I missing something?
 
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