Windows 11 and 10 no longer activate with Windows 7, 8 keys

Microsoft no longer allows users to activate Windows 11 and 10 installations with Windows 7 and 8 product keys.

Windows Update upgrade option to Windows 11
  • Microsoft closes a loophole to activate Windows 11 and 10 with 7 and 8 keys.
  • Windows 10 to Windows 11 upgrades will remain free.
  • You can no longer use Windows 7 and 8 keys to activate newer versions of Windows.

Microsoft will no longer allow users to activate new installations of Windows 11 or 10 using product keys from older versions, such as Windows 7 and 8. According to an announcement (via Windows Central), the company will end the loophole that permitted new installations to activate the operating system with different product keys.

For context, back in 2015, during the initial launch of Windows 10, the software giant made the operating system a free upgrade for devices running Windows 8 as well as for those computers running Windows 7. However, the promotion had an expiring date of exactly a year later (July 29, 2016), but after that date, those who upgraded their devices were still able to activate their new Windows 10 installations without having to purchase a new product key.

Fast forward to 2021, which is when Windows 11 was originally released, users were still able to activate their Windows 11 installation using Windows 7 and 8 product keys.

However, starting September 20, 2023, Microsoft is officially closing the loophole, meaning that those Windows 7 and 8 product keys will no longer activate a new installation of Windows 11 or 10.

Although the days of activating the operating system with product keys from older versions are over, Microsoft says that upgrades from Windows 10 to Windows 11 will continue to be free, meaning that a Windows 10 product key can be used to activate a Windows 11 installation.

It’s important to note that those devices that were activated with a product key from an older version of the operating system will continue to activate new installations on the same computer because those activations have already been converted to digital licenses to activate the device.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows expert and the Editor-in-Chief who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He's also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 12 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows, software, and related technologies, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ & Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, and LinkedIn.