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Windows Windows 7 keys will activate Windows 10

Discussion in 'Software' started by boiled_elephant, 5 Feb 2020.

  1. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    Hi all. Just sharing this piece of information because it has recently come to my attention that loads of people, even within tech communities, don't know about it at all. Microsoft have not publicized it or made any official announcements to suggest it would be the case. Nobody talks about it online. But in case you weren't aware, it is true - original Windows 7 COA license keys will also activate the corresponding (i.e. Home/Pro) version of retail Windows 10.

    I don't know why it be like it is, but it do.

    Once bound to a particular machine, they don't seem to stick to the hardware the way the digital entitlements from upgrades do, either - a key can be reactivated on different hardware at a later date, with at most a telephone activation release, though I expect repeatedly cycling a key around in a short period of time will get it permanently blacklisted, and indeed, I have come across a couple of keys that are simply non-functional.
     
  2. Spraduke

    Spraduke Lurker

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    Discovered this myself when I installed a new Mobo and my Win 10 upgrade (from Win7) didn't want to reactivate.
     
  3. Big Elf

    Big Elf Oh no! Not another f----ing elf!

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    I've very recently updated 4 PCs/Laptops to Windows 10 from Windows 7 and all activated without a problem.
     
  4. cobalt6700

    cobalt6700 Active Member

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    Recently updated the GF's mac (windows for windows games) from 7 to 10 with her win 7 CD key - no issues.
     
  5. saspro

    saspro IT monkey

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    Yes it activatyes but technically isn't a valid licence so I wouldn't recommend it for business use etc
     
  6. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    This is a separate behaviour. Machines that went through the free upgrade program to 10 have a digital entitlement - basically Microsoft's servers have a log of your motherboard's hardware IDs, and if it sees those same IDs on a fresh install of Windows 10 (of the same edition) it automatically activates that install. No keys are actually involved, and if you use a key recovery program on it you'll see either a generic key or no product key at all. Fantastic system, saves me a ton of time.

    This needs elaborating on, frankly, because it doesn't really...mean anything? If a key activates against Microsoft's servers, it's because it is intended to function as a valid license for that software. It's hard to imagine they accidentally left a database in the wrong place and all these keys just activate Windows 10 by happenstance. I can only infer that these keys activate Windows 10 because Microsoft intend them to, which - to my mind - would make them valid licenses.
     
  7. saspro

    saspro IT monkey

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    It activates because the activation servers are still online. It also logs when these "free upgrades" were done.
    If Microsoft audit a business, they don't care if software is activated, they want licenses, which means either a receipt, a valid COA or proof it was an upgrade done during the free window.
     
  8. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    I fear these points are both based on misconceptions. Windows 7 keys activating Windows 10 was not part of the free upgrade programme's mechanisms, and I actually remember trying 7 keys in 10 back when it was a free upgrade and it not working. This is a specific, separate mechanism Microsoft have enabled, not a side-effect of the free upgrade scheme.

    The idea of being audited by Microsoft on these terms seems fantastical to me. I've never known it happen, and based on the behaviour of a lot of the bigger eBay-based resellers in their handling of COAs and refurbisher programmes, I'm convinced Microsoft simply never lift a finger outside of the US. But even if they did, I'm fairly sure it wouldn't violate their ToS to sell units that were originally on Windows 7, with Windows 10 installed, activated using the attached original COA. That machine, by Microsoft's own activation mechanisms and intentions, self-evidently has a Windows 10 entitlement. If they didn't want Windows 7 COAs to be reused as Windows 10 installs, why would they open the door to it by specifically allowing the keys to work?

    My own pet theory is that Microsoft care far more about getting everyone onto Windows 10 than anything else. I think repurposing Windows 7 stickered machines and using the attached COAs to activate Windows 10 is actually perfectly aligned with Microsoft's own plans and intentions.

    Even if it were somehow problematic to sell units with Windows 7 COAs and Windows 10 installed and activated, though, that wouldn't preclude upgrading peoples' existing computers to Windows 10 for them and activating it using the existing Windows 7 COA. That is, in fact, precisely what I do all the time. I clearly explain to customers that that's what I'm doing, and that that's why the price is so low, and caution them that if they take a Windows 7 machine to an IT shop and get charged for a retail Windows 10 key, they should be suspicious and ask for the license itself, because that technician is probably just using the 7 COA and fraudulently pocketing the price of the Windows 10 'license'.

    It is precisely out of fear of that sort of behaviour becoming commonplace, now that Windows 7 is obsolete, that I'm trying to publicize this information and spread it as far as possible. Everyone with a Windows 7 COA essentially has a Windows 10 license waiting to be used. I dread to think how many unsuspecting customers are lining the pockets of unscrupulous IT shops exploiting this gap in common knowledge.

    The core question is so pressing that it bears repeating. If Microsoft would ever have a problem with this activation route, why do you think they've made it possible? And the answer isn't that they just "left a server on", because that isn't how Windows 10 activation has ever worked. They enabled this separate to the free upgrade scheme. I wonder why?
     
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  9. RedFlames

    RedFlames ...is not a Belgian football team

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    IIRC The ability to [re]install and [re]activate 10 using 7 and 8.x keys was added to later builds/versions of 10 to make reinstalls of 10 easier for those who had upgraded from 7/8.x. MS were just lax in enforcing/checking that those activating 10 that way actually qualified to do so. Whether by oversight or design is a matter of opinion.

    As saspro said, whilst MS has shown little interest in enforcing it [on the consumer side at least] thus far, that could always change.


    There's a similar... issue... with their business subsciption services where sure features will *work*, but you can end up in hot water as your license doesn't actually cover their use.
     
    Last edited: 6 Feb 2020
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  10. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    This is interesting, I didn't know the activation path originally came about in that way.

    What kind of actions could they take, feasibly, against people using Windows 7 COAs? It's the suggestion of 'business implications' that confuses me. Am I, by running a business where I upgrade peoples' 7 PCs to 10 using their existing 7 COAs, committing a crime, or just contravening the ToS? And what would be the implications for those users if Microsoft were to somehow get wind of the discrepancy that saspro points to - that the upgrade date is later than the free upgrade window?

    When it comes to Microsoft's ToS I talk the talk but actually know very little about the details, and even less about how they would actually go about enforcing them against small businesses and home users in weird fringe cases like this.
     
  11. RedFlames

    RedFlames ...is not a Belgian football team

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    Revoke the license/'digital entitlement' and stop it from [re]acivating, like the do/did when the find/found people abusing volume license keys. Then you'd get the 'this copy of windows isn't activated/genuine' messages and all the stuff that goes along with.
     
  12. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    Depends if they're bothered or just want people on Window 10 in order to make money from the MS Store, revenue from Bing or whatever.

    I would imagine planning an OS future on a steady income stream rather than on the OS cycle is preferable (that they've now stopped).
     
  13. saspro

    saspro IT monkey

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    I've been in volved in a lot of MS audits. If the customer (busiess) has either Volume Licenses or Office 365 then they will get audited at some point.
    As part of it they check their records of what you've paid for (based on their records) and ask you to run a tool to pull details of the entire Microsoft Estate (I.E. What's installed on the network).

    They will then ask for proof of ownership for anything they don't have on file (I.E. isn't a Volume License or a 365 license).
    For desktops & laptops this is receipts or COA stickers (for OEM licenses).
    If you can't supply them then you need to "true up" at their retail prices (which are 20-30% higher than most) to become compliant.

    If the customer tells them that their IT guy upgraded all their PC's to Win 10 & can't provide proof of legal ownership then MS get grumpy.
     
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  14. Anfield

    Anfield Well-Known Member

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    Very unlikely to change.

    There is one thing that would be far worse for MS than some unlicensed copies sneaking through, that one thing is the threat of people moving to Linux / Open Office / etc as a consequence of a pita activation process for MS products.
     
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  15. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    True I could see a switch to Linux with the improving gaming scene if the enforced it on your everyday consumer, better to keep them in the MS sellersphere.

    Business users and large volume users, well, that's a different story.
     
  16. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    This is the distinguishing info I was lacking, thank you very much guys for elaborating.

    Basically I'm a sole trader with no Microsoft memberships, partnerships or reseller programmes, and I don't sell licenses - I just upgrade customers' machines to w10 using the COAs already present, and all my customers are private individuals. So I think I'm sound.

    Thank you again!
     
  17. faugusztin

    faugusztin I *am* the guy with two left hands

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    AFAIK the activation of older keys works because of the transferable retail copies of older Windows versions which were upgraded to Windows 10.

    If you have a retail Windows 7/8/8.1 and upgraded to Windows 10 and then want to transfer the retail license to another PC, you cannot use the digital entitlement with no key entered, because it is a new computer. You cannot use a 'new Windows 10 key', because you don't have one. If they refused the keys from older Windows versions, they would break the retail EULA guarantees (if i remember the upgrade license language correctly, you retain your original rights, thus you retain ability to transfer license to another computer). I might be mistaken, but this is the most reasonable explanation i have seen.
     

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