Windows 10 activation rules change on the next significant update

Microsoft is working to make easier for users to activate their copy of Windows 10 by changing some of the rules with the Threshold 2 update.

Windows 10 activation new rules

Microsoft is planning to roll out its first significant Windows 10 update, which we know as Threshold 2, for PCs sometime in November. The new update aims to bring additional stability and new features to the operating system. We’ve already seen some of these new changes, as Insiders are currently testing a preview of the update, and beginning Windows 10 build 10565, Microsoft is adding significant changes, including changes on how device activation works.

In Windows 10 build 10565, the software maker announced that changes on the activation rules are coming to help users to upgrade for free more easily using their already activated copy of Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1, and eliminates the need for users to upgrade to Windows 10 before performing a clean install.

In the current public release of Windows 10 (build 10240), the activation rules dictate that a computer running a genuine copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 qualifies for the free upgrade promotion.  However, users wanting to move to the new operating system using a clean installation process have to perform an upgrade first in order to activate properly.

In theory, if every single user was aware of the upgrade process and the extra time they need to spend, this wouldn’t be a big issue. However, many users opted to skip the require upgrade, which resulted on being prompted to provide a Windows 10 product key to activate. Those who came across this issue, needed to wipe out their system and reinstall Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to do the upgrade correctly.

This resulted on unnecessary extra steps and after various pieces of feedback, Microsoft has begun making the necessary changes.

Beginning with build 10565 and later, Microsoft says that you can do a clean installation of Windows 10 using a bootable media and use your previously activated Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 product key during the setup.

In the same way, if Windows 10 doesn’t activate during an upgrade or clean installation, you can also go to Settings > Update & security > Activation and using the Change product key button to enter your qualifying product key and complete the activation.

If everything matches you will see the “Windows 10 on this device is activated with a digital entitlement” message on Activation, under Update & security in the Settings app. (If you want to know more about the activation methods, check out the difference between digital entitlement and traditional product key in this previous article.)

This is a welcome change and step forward in the right direction, and one thing Microsoft should have done from the beginning.

It’s really important to note that this change is not currently available to the public running Windows 10 (build 10240), it’s only available for Insiders running build 10565 or later. We’re expecting these new changes to roll out to everyone when Microsoft rolls out Windows 10 Threshold 2 later in November 2015.

Also keep in mind that if you skip entering the product key during the installation, you won’t be able to use some of the features on Windows 10 until you update the product key in the Activation section in the Settings app.

What do you think about the improvements Microsoft is making on device activation? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].