If you have been wondering, yes, you can activate Windows 11 with a Windows 7 product key. Therefore, you can also use a genuine Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 key. This means that Windows 11 is a free upgrade for older versions of the operating system. (See also this guide to learn the steps to activate an installation of Windows 11.)
Although Microsoft doesn’t fully support an upgrade path from Windows 7 to Windows 11, you can upgrade the operating system using the official setup while keeping your files. However, after the installation, you will need to reconfigure your preferred settings and reinstall your applications.
In the case of Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, the Windows 11 upgrade offers the option to keep your files, some of your settings, and applications.
It’s not a big surprise that you can use product keys from older versions to activate since Windows 11 is not an entirely new system. Instead, it’s a more mature version of Windows 10 with a new user interface, so the same upgrade path available on Windows 10 should also be available for Windows 11.
In addition, this is not the first time. When Windows 10 was first released in 2015, Microsoft offered the operating system as a free upgrade for devices running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. The free upgrade was offered for a limited time. However, even after the promotion expired, users could still activate their devices with a genuine license from an older version of the operating system.
Perhaps one of the primary reasons that the product keys from Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 work to activate Windows 11 is that Microsoft doesn’t make much of its revenue selling desktop licenses for consumers. Instead, the company makes the most revenue from cloud services and other products. At the end of the day, Microsoft only wants people to upgrade their devices to the latest version of its operating system.
While you can use product keys from older versions to activate Windows 11, you can only do this on the device that originally was activated since you cannot transfer the license to another device unless you have a retail version of Windows. If you have a retail license, you can wipe out the hard drive on the old computer, and then transfer the license to the new hardware to activate Windows 11.