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08-03-2015 10:25 AM
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  1. Lumious's Avatar
    I'm starting a new thread so we can all post our questions, problems, concerns with clean installing Windows 10 and doing a reset on laptops/tablets/PCs.

    -So has anyone tried to reset a Surface Pro 2 or 3 and had activation issues? I have yet to download Windows 10 on my main desktop but I'm wondering if anyone can get a clean install to work and have it still activated?

    -What about just doing reset and choosing to delete all files and install a fresh copy of Windows (which is pretty much the same as clean installing)...has anyone attempted this successfully?

    -Installing Windows 10 from ISO? Did it activate? Did you have to enter a product key?

    -What about insider preview build 10240. We were told to hold of on clean installing 10240 before july 29th because it wouldn't activate. What about now, can we install or reset build 10240 from scratch?

    Discuss...
    07-29-2015 12:17 PM
  2. Tempest790's Avatar
    Microsoft is so damn vague on this. I guess we'll need guinea pigs. I installed Windows 10 via the normal Windows Update process. My first reboot after using Windows 10 resulted in a blue screen of death, and it took me over an hour to get it back. Sad thing is, I don't even know what I did to fix it!

    I downloaded the corresponding ISO (Win 10 x64 Home) for my Lenovo H530s desktop. I want to clean install it, so I extracted my product key using Belarc but it still reports the OS as 8.1. Is this the new Win 10 key or the old 8.1 key? I don't know. My Win 10 is activated.

    I may try to clean install it tomorrow, but I'm scared I may lose my activation.

    MS needs to clear the air on this.
    07-29-2015 12:56 PM
  3. krague17's Avatar
    I just did a clean install from the ISO images. I have had a Surface Pro 3 with Windows Insider preview 10240 installed on it. I wasn't sure if there was an official update that would be installed or if I already had the latest with 10240 and there wouldn’t be a major update.
    This is my secondary computer so I decided to take a chance and do a clean install with the ISO images they provided today. I copied the files to a USB drive and booted to it. It went through the normal clean install steps but then asked for a key. I had my Windows 8.1 key for my Surface Pro 3 and tried to use that but it wouldn't take it. So I just skipped it. It asked one more time at the end of the installation and I skipped it again. The computer rebooted and I logged in with my outlook email and checked the activation status and it said it was activated.
    So it looks like if you had the 10240 insider preview build installed it upgrades your key automatically. During installation it wouldn’t take the key but once you log in with your Microsoft ID and have internet connection it will take the key that is in the BIOS and activate it. I never had to enter a key so it looks like once you log in it uses the key that’s in the BIOS and automatically activates it. So I have successfully installed a clean version of Windows 10 Pro using the ISO images and it activated successfully. I think the important part is that you have either had the 10240 build installed by upgrading so that your Windows 7 or 8 key is updated to a Windows 10 before you do a clean install. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.
    Alroy Swain likes this.
    07-29-2015 01:17 PM
  4. tbhCKR's Avatar
    I'm currently trying to clean install over an upgraded Windows 10.
    My configuration: Windows 7 Pro -> updated via ISO to 10240 yesterday and now I'm trying to reinstall without entering a product key. Let's see if it is activated like Lifehacker says.

    If does not work: I won't upgrade any other PC to Windows 10 because I'm planning to put a 2 TB SSD into my ThinkPad X230 when they get cheaper and when that happens next year I have to reinstall Windows 10 on a new hard drive and it wouldn't be possible anymore (because of the expired upgrade offer).
    07-29-2015 01:21 PM
  5. Josh Hearn's Avatar
    One of the 3 options when installing Windows 10 is delete all files, settings, and apps. Than the other 2 options are 1 of the 3 or 2 of the 3. What is the difference in a "clean install" and windows 10 deleting all files, apps, etc etc
    07-29-2015 01:22 PM
  6. tbhCKR's Avatar
    Clean install gives you the ability to modify your partitions if you want to do so. ;)
    07-29-2015 01:24 PM
  7. Grimlock's Avatar
    This confused me as well- i thought I would have to upgrade to 10 then clean install from there. But I used the ISO and chose not to keep anything- so I assume this was a clean install. It didn't ask me for a key on either my desktop or surface 3 pro installations, so it makes me wonder if it is truly a 100% clean install. I'm fine with a 99% clean if thats what it is : )

    ​I didn't get the partition options but the only thing left over was windows.old folder, which kind of made me feel like it was more of an in-place upgrade. I don't know!
    07-29-2015 01:46 PM
  8. tbhCKR's Avatar
    Windows 10 clean install (formatted the hard drive before) did not work at all! [I used an ISO of build 10240]
    I skipped all input dialogs for the product key, connected to my WLAN and it did not activate properly. Note: I did never connect any Microsoft account!

    In the middle of the setup Windows is checking for updates and downloads them first. Afterwards you'll have to go through the beginning of the setup again and you'll be able to create your (local) user account. Then I checked if Windows is activated and it is not. Why? It's still using the generic Windows key.

    More information: answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_10-win_upgrade/can-i-re-install-windows-10-if-i-format-the-hdd/18627a0b-7a51-4091-9d51-d03dd2b8027c

    To sum it up: Personally I won't upgrade to Windows 10 until such issues get sorted out and I can not recommend any one to do so!
    Actually upgrading (and even better reinstalling) Windows 10 is more complicated than using the Linux command prompt for the first time ...
    07-29-2015 01:49 PM
  9. mestari's Avatar
    I did a clean install too and lost activation. I used ProduKey to find 8.1 OEM key and the windows 10 home key and tried activating manually from settings but they don't work. I am signed in with my MS account. How can i get windows activated again?
    07-29-2015 02:05 PM
  10. johnson_patrickw's Avatar
    Has anyone been able to burn the ISO to a USB drive?
    07-29-2015 02:37 PM
  11. a5cent's Avatar
    We're all making it far more complicated than it actually is. All you need to know is this:

    1. You can't activate W10 without a valid W10 license key!

    2. You can acquire a valid W10 license in one of two ways:
    a) purchase a W10 license key online or through retail
    b) upgrade your older W7 or W8.x license key to a W10 license key

    2b is the tricky one! Doing this requires that you start with a genuine and activated W7 or W8.1 installation and then go through the in-place upgrade process at least once! It doesn't matter if this happened before the 29th with an insider preview version of Windows, or after with the RTM version. It just must have occurred. This creates a new W10 license and associates it with both your hardware and your MS account. All that is stored in the cloud.

    Without having gone through that process, your MS account has no record of your hardware being associated with a W10 license. If you do a clean install, Windows will ask you for a key during installation. All you'll have is your older license key and that won't be accepted as a valid substitute for a W10 license.
    Last edited by a5cent; 07-31-2015 at 08:01 AM. Reason: spelling
    07-29-2015 03:00 PM
  12. johnson_patrickw's Avatar
    We're all making it far more complicated than it actually is. All you need to know is this:

    1. You can't activate W10 without a valid W10 license key!

    2. You can acquire a valid W10 license in one of two ways:
    a) purchase a W10 license key online or through retail
    b) upgrade your older W7 or W8.x license key to a W10 license key

    2b is the tricky one! Doing this requires that you start with a genuine and activated W7 or W8.1 installation and then go through the online in-place upgrade process at least once! It doesn't matter if this happened before the 29th with an insider preview version of Windows, or after with the RTM version. It just must have occurred. This creates a new W10 license and associates it with both your hardware and your MS account. All that is stored in the cloud.

    Without having gone through that process, your MS account has no record of your hardware being associated with a W10 license. If you do a clean install, Windows will ask you for a key during installation. All you'll have is your older license key and that won't be accepted as a valid substitute for a W10 license.
    How does this work with drives that had Windows 10 and have since been wiped?
    07-29-2015 03:16 PM
  13. a5cent's Avatar
    How does this work with drives that had Windows 10 and have since been wiped?
    The drive (wiped or not) is completely irrelevant.

    Like I said, as long as you've gone through the online in-place upgrade process at least once, you'll be fine. During setup you can skip all the prompts to enter a license key. Later, when you log into your MS account, Windows will see that the machine it's running on was previously associated with a valid W10 license and then activate itself.
    fjordstrom likes this.
    07-29-2015 03:32 PM
  14. Signia70's Avatar
    I did an in-place upgrade from the MSDN ISO and it worked great. No issues other than Symantec Enterprise Protection(you need 12.1.6 MP1 which was released today!!!)
    07-29-2015 03:32 PM
  15. a5cent's Avatar
    I did an in-place upgrade from the MSDN ISO and it worked great. No issues other than Symantec Enterprise Protection(you need 12.1.6 MP1 which was released today!!!)
    There are reports elsewhere in the forums of the in-place upgrade from installation media (specifically using the Media Creation Tool or ISO) not working correctly, and leading to an installation that can't be activated. If it's not activated after the in-place upgrade, it won't activate after a clean install either.

    I can't vouch for this as I haven't tried it myself, but at least at this time I'd recommend sticking with the online in-place upgrade process. YMMV.
    Scorpio5x0 likes this.
    07-29-2015 03:36 PM
  16. 6029KingStephen's Avatar
    Here's what I did to get a completely clean install on a Dell Desktop with a retail Windows 7 licence.

    1. I downloaded the ISO to a USB stick
    2. I ran the setup program from within Windows 7. I specified "keep nothing". The install worked but it was done as an upgrade and all my hard drive data was retained, and windows.old was created.
    3. I ran Belarc Advisor to find out my product key, as I knew the Win 7 one would not be accepted. Belarc told me it was a Win 8.1 key, and it was totally different from my Win 7 key
    4. I rebooted the PC from the USB stick and ran a new install from there
    5. I used the product key that Belarc had found and it was accepted fine
    6. I deleted the old partition and created a new empty one to replace it
    7. All went fine and I now have a clean Win 10 install - I am typing this from Edge on that PC.

    The main thing of interest was that a completely new key was created from the upgrade, and for non-uefi systems you will need something to tell you what it is before you can do a new install.

    I hope that will help other people as I know some have been struggling with this.
    MrGoodSmith, netmann and mjyumping like this.
    07-29-2015 03:53 PM
  17. maktaba's Avatar
    I have a Windows 8.1 Single Language laptop PC which came pre-installed with Windows 8 which I then upgraded it to Windows 8.1 when it became available. I downloaded the Windows 10 Home Single Language ISO using the tool provided by Microsoft and made a USB of it. By typing wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey in the command prompt I got the Windows 8 or 8.1 key (the key associated with the laptop). After rebooting with the USB I deleted all partitions to start anew, and when I entered the CD key I got from that aforementioned program it was rejected!

    Now I'm still with an unactivated Windows 10! If I type wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey again in the command prompt it shows the same key it showed before Windows 10 installation, which proves that it shows the key in the BIOS not the currently installed version of Windows.

    Who's fault is it? Why, it's Microsoft's:

    I understand the risk. Will media from this site install correctly on a device that came with an operating system pre-installed?

    Windows 8.x and Windows 10 Pre-installed: You can download and use media from this site on your device and it will install correctly. In most cases you will not be asked for a product key during installation, the product key is included on the motherboard. However, after installation, the device will NOT contain the specialized drivers and software that came pre-installed from your manufacturer. *If you are prompted for a product key during installation, refer to How do I find my Windows product key? question above.

    Windows 7 Pre-installed: We strongly recommend you contact the device manufacturer for support.
    Source: Not allowed to post links
    netmann likes this.
    07-29-2015 04:20 PM
  18. Dos101's Avatar
    We're all making it far more complicated than it actually is. All you need to know is this:

    1. You can't activate W10 without a valid W10 license key!

    2. You can acquire a valid W10 license in one of two ways:
    a) purchase a W10 license key online or through retail
    b) upgrade your older W7 or W8.x license key to a W10 license key

    2b is the tricky one! Doing this requires that you start with a genuine and activated W7 or W8.1 installation and then go through the online in-place upgrade process at least once! It doesn't matter if this happened before the 29th with an insider preview version of Windows, or after with the RTM version. It just must have occurred. This creates a new W10 license and associates it with both your hardware and your MS account. All that is stored in the cloud.

    Without having gone through that process, your MS account has no record of your hardware being associated with a W10 license. If you do a clean install, Windows will ask you for a key during installation. All you'll have is your older license key and that won't be accepted as a valid substitute for a W10 license.
    I did 2b with my Razer Blade. Used magic jellybean to find out what my "new" key is in Windows 10 after the upgrade. After that I did a clean install and used the "new" key from my Win 10 upgrade. Windows 10 will not activate after the clean install, and apparently they key I extracted from my Windows 10 upgrade is a generic key. This is just ridiculous.
    tbhCKR likes this.
    07-29-2015 05:14 PM
  19. Lumious's Avatar
    We're all making it far more complicated than it actually is. All you need to know is this:

    1. You can't activate W10 without a valid W10 license key!

    2. You can acquire a valid W10 license in one of two ways:
    a) purchase a W10 license key online or through retail
    b) upgrade your older W7 or W8.x license key to a W10 license key

    2b is the tricky one! Doing this requires that you start with a genuine and activated W7 or W8.1 installation and then go through the online in-place upgrade process at least once! It doesn't matter if this happened before the 29th with an insider preview version of Windows, or after with the RTM version. It just must have occurred. This creates a new W10 license and associates it with both your hardware and your MS account. All that is stored in the cloud.

    Without having gone through that process, your MS account has no record of your hardware being associated with a W10 license. If you do a clean install, Windows will ask you for a key during installation. All you'll have is your older license key and that won't be accepted as a valid substitute for a W10 license.
    If I reset the PC and choose the option to delete all my files AND clean the drive, is this basically the same as a clean install...from a performance standpoint? I just want my PC's to run as if they have a fresh copy of Windows installed...I don't care about the time it takes to redownload all the apps and programs and all my files from onedrive. I am currently trying this now on a laptop that had insider preview build 10240 installed on it. Based on your information it should remain activated. If it does ill try it on the surface pro 2.

    If not, what would you suggest I do to achieve those results (fresh copy of win10) for a laptop running build 10240 upgraded from 10166<10162<8.1Pro and a Surface Pro 2 upgraded to Windows 10 from 8.1 Pro. SP2 went through the online upgrade process already.
    07-29-2015 05:14 PM
  20. ReprobusR's Avatar
    Buy the DVD --- Another Microsoft suggestion !
    07-29-2015 05:19 PM
  21. a5cent's Avatar
    I did 2b with my Razer Blade. Used magic jellybean to find out what my "new" key is in Windows 10 after the upgrade. After that I did a clean install and used the "new" key from my Win 10 upgrade. Windows 10 will not activate after the clean install, and apparently they key I extracted from my Windows 10 upgrade is a generic key. This is just ridiculous.
    If you did 2b you shouldn't be using any key at all!

    As I previously explained, your key is stored in the cloud. The whole idea of extracting an updated W10 key and providing it to W10 during a clean-install is useless busy-work that serves no purpose other than to introduce more steps where mistakes can be made. Bad idea. Don't do it.

    That being said, MS is currently experiencing problems with overloading activation servers. If you're experiencing issue #5 in the FAQ you likely need only wait.
    07-29-2015 05:24 PM
  22. Dos101's Avatar
    If you did 2b you shouldn't be using any key at all!

    As I previously explained, your key is stored in the cloud. The whole idea of extracting an updated W10 key and providing it to W10 during a clean-install is useless busy-work that serves no purpose other than to introduce more steps where mistakes can be made. Bad idea. Don't do it.

    That being said, MS is currently experiencing problems with overloading activation servers. If you're experiencing issue #5 in the FAQ you likely need only wait.
    Well that's the process I followed, and I was prompted for a key, so I'm not sure what I could have done differently that would have avoided that. I may just have to wait then and see if it eventually activates. Microsoft definitely could have communicated this more clearly though. I know they want people to upgrade and just let Windows do it's thing, but there are many people who prefer clean installs.
    07-29-2015 05:38 PM
  23. a5cent's Avatar
    If I reset the PC and choose the option to delete all my files AND clean the drive, is this basically the same as a clean install...from a performance standpoint? I just want my PC's to run as if they have a fresh copy of Windows installed...I don't care about the time it takes to redownload all the apps and programs and all my files from onedrive. I am currently trying this now on a laptop that had insider preview build 10240 installed on it. Based on your information it should remain activated. If it does ill try it on the surface pro 2.

    If not, what would you suggest I do to achieve those results (fresh copy of win10) for a laptop running build 10240 upgraded from 10166<10162<8.1Pro and a Surface Pro 2 upgraded to Windows 10 from 8.1 Pro. SP2 went through the online upgrade process already.
    To be honest, I wouldn't be trying anything like that right now. There are more people trying to get their hands on W10 than MS' infrastructure can currently handle. If you do encounter activation problems it's not easy to tell if the problem is on your end or if MS' servers are just knocked out.

    If you do have issues, your best bet is to wait for a day or two until things settle down. I suspect you'll be fine after that.

    In theory a PC reset on W10 (not the same as a PC reset on W8) should provide you the same experience as if you installed a fresh copy of Windows. Since PC Reset has been completely overhauled in W10, I'm not sure if we can actually believe that. We've just not had enough experience with it yet. Based on my current understanding I'm sceptical of that claim, and will prefer an install from ISO onto a freshly formatted drive over any other method.
    07-29-2015 05:42 PM
  24. a5cent's Avatar
    Well that's the process I followed, and I was prompted for a key, so I'm not sure what I could have done differently that would have avoided that. I may just have to wait then and see if it eventually activates. Microsoft definitely could have communicated this more clearly though. I know they want people to upgrade and just let Windows do it's thing, but there are many people who prefer clean installs.
    It should be possible to skip all the prompts to enter a key during installation.

    I agree with you. I feel MS has generally been ignoring the clean-install crowd for quite some time now. It was a major pain during the W8.1 upgrade too, where it was almost impossible to even get an ISO.

    But even without the clean-install issues, I still feel the entire upgrade process is far too convoluted. It shouldn't require this much information and clarification just to understand how to upgrade correctly.
    mary beth hale likes this.
    07-29-2015 05:46 PM
  25. deezus's Avatar
    I just did a clean install from the ISO images. I have had a Surface Pro 3 with Windows Insider preview 10240 installed on it. I wasn't sure if there was an official update that would be installed or if I already had the latest with 10240 and there wouldn’t be a major update.
    This is my secondary computer so I decided to take a chance and do a clean install with the ISO images they provided today. I copied the files to a USB drive and booted to it. It went through the normal clean install steps but then asked for a key. I had my Windows 8.1 key for my Surface Pro 3 and tried to use that but it wouldn't take it. So I just skipped it. It asked one more time at the end of the installation and I skipped it again. The computer rebooted and I logged in with my outlook email and checked the activation status and it said it was activated.
    So it looks like if you had the 10240 insider preview build installed it upgrades your key automatically. During installation it wouldn’t take the key but once you log in with your Microsoft ID and have internet connection it will take the key that is in the BIOS and activate it. I never had to enter a key so it looks like once you log in it uses the key that’s in the BIOS and automatically activates it. So I have successfully installed a clean version of Windows 10 Pro using the ISO images and it activated successfully. I think the important part is that you have either had the 10240 build installed by upgrading so that your Windows 7 or 8 key is updated to a Windows 10 before you do a clean install. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.
    What partition did you​ install it on? I see 3 spots and did you format it?
    07-29-2015 05:51 PM
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