Trying to fathom out Windows 10 Activation

So, every user of Windows 7 and 8.1 gets a free upgrade to Windows 10.

You need to UPGRADE though..  then windows reports “Windows is activated”.
The key which Nirsoft Produckey reports is “QJNXR-YD97Q-K7WH4-RYWQ8-6MT6Y” and this can be found on a lot of non-english websites too.

So I wanted to know what would happen if you wanted to get your “free upgrade” but didn’t already have an installed and activated version of Windows.. you just wanted to blow it away and install fresh.

I did so and used the key thay my “activated” computer was using and was greeted with this error:

“Error code: 0xC004C003”
“Error description: The activation server determined that the specified product key has been blocked.”

Which begs the question how, if I had to reinstall my “activated” windows 10 installation, Microsoft would know I was previously running an activated and genuine edition. How does my activated computer activate and show that product key when another computer doesn’t accept it.

A friend tested this.. He fresh installed Windows 10 from USB (having previously upgraded from within a genuine Windows 7 to get the free Windows 10 License).
During the install he kept skipping the product key inputs and then, once in Windows 10 and back online, went through the activation and it just worked. No product key input required etc.

I presume this means that Microsoft take a fingerprint of the machine when first upgraded and then activate further installations on the same hardware automatically.
The next question is how much hardware can you change before they deem that you have a new machine and no longer qualify for your free upgraded copy. has more information on the information Microsoft collect for activation and association.

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1 Response to Trying to fathom out Windows 10 Activation

  1. Janus Ludwig Zardak says:

    According to microsoft hotline germany ( very angry person ) you are not even allowed to change number of active cpu cores in BIOS. That is a major system change and requires to by a new license. Also you upgrades to more memory which requires to change all memory chips, your entiteled to by a new license key.

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