If you plan on switching to a new PC – depending upon the type of Windows 10 license you have installed – you might be able to transfer the Windows license to the new computer. New computers often come with a brand new OEM Win 10 license, but sometimes you can get a new machine without a license for less money and then just transfer the license from the old machine. Savings!

How to check if your Windows 10 license can be transferred

First, find out what type of license you have installed

If you bought Windows 10 directly, either by having it pre-installed on your computer or by buying a boxed copy, you’re good to go: your license can be transferred to the new computer.

But if you’ve upgraded to 10 from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 there are some restrictions:

  • If you upgraded from a retail copy of Windows 7, Windows 8 or 8.1, the Windows 10 license carries the retail rights from which it was derived.
  • If you upgraded from an OEM Windows 7, Windows 8 or 8.1 license (meaning it was pre-installed on your computer), then your license carries the OEM rights.

This will affect the things you can do with the license. If it is a retail license, you can continue to make hardware modifications to your system as much as you want such as changing the motherboard or moving it to a different computer. But with an OEM version the license is tied to the specific computer and hardware, so unfortunately you will have to purchase a new full retail Windows 10 license.

Removing the license to transfer to another computer

To move a Windows 10 retail license, or the free upgrade from a retail version of Windows 7 or 8.1, the existing license can no longer be in active use on a PC. Microsoft does not provide a deactivate option in any Windows version. Instead, you have two options to choose from:

  • Uninstalling the product key – this is the closest to deactivating the license in Windows. However, this method does not inform the Activation Servers at Microsoft that the license is no longer in use on the particular machine, and therefore we do not recommend it. You will avoid conflicts in future if the Activation Servers at Microsoft would know that your license is no longer in use.
  • Format the computerthis is our recommended option, because will ensure that the Activation Servers know that license is no longer in use on the computer. However, It will require you to remove everything from your PC. (Make sure you have your data backed up somewhere safe). To do so, you can use the convenient Reset option in Windows 10 to do this. So make sure you backup your data and then use the Reset option before continuing on.

How to uninstall the Windows 10 product key from the current computer after you’ve reset Windows 10

  • Press Windows key + X then click Command Prompt (Admin) or Windows PowerShell (Admin).
  • At the command prompt, enter the following command: slmgr.vbs /upk

This command will uninstall the product key, which will free the license or the product key for use on another computer.

Now you are free to transfer your license to another computer. You cannot activate it using just your Windows 8 or Windows 7 product key – read on to see what you need to do.

When you get a prompt during Windows setup on the new computer to enter a product key, click on “I don’t have a product key”. Only if you have a full version Windows 10 (license/key) bought at a store, you can enter the product key now.

2

Select the edition you’re licensed for:

If your license is Windows 10 Home, or comes from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, or Windows 8.1 Core: choose Windows 10 Home
If your license is Windows 10 Pro, or comes from Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, or Windows 8.1 Pro: choose Windows 10 Pro

You will be prompted again for a product key by Windows 10 setup, during the Out of Box Experience. Click on Do this later if you are using a Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 product key to activate Windows 10. If you have a full version Windows 10 license bought at a store, you may enter the product key for activation.

4

Reactivate the license

Once you are at the desktop screen, this is the time to enter the key.

  • Press Windows key + X then click Command Prompt (Admin) or Windows PowerShell (Admin).
  • At the command prompt, enter the following command:

slmgr.vbs /ipk xxxxx- xxxxx- xxxxx- xxxxx- xxxxx. 

  • Note: replace the “x”s  with your product key.
  • Hit Enter on your keyboard; you will receive a confirmation the product key was updated.
  • Close the command prompt and then proceed to reactivate by telephone or Contact Support.

Since the Windows 10 license we are trying to use was previously in use on another computer, you will be required to reactivate by telephone or Contact Support.

  • Press Windows key + R then type: slui.exe 4
  • Then hit Enter on your keyboard.

6

You will now get an activation wizard. Choose your country and click Next.7

Call on the number that you see on the Activation screen or launch Contact Support to explain your situation to the Microsoft Answer Tech over the phone; She/he will ask for Installation ID that you see on screen and help you further in activation.

The agent will verify your product key, then provide a confirmation ID for reactivating Windows 10.

After some recent updates Microsoft Support works much more smoothly in most countries: especially the chat support option.

Still stuck? Ask your question in our forum!

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33 Comments

  1. Doesnt work for me. At the slmgr step I just get an error saying my original key (windows 8 pro) is invalid.

    • Hello B Flow, make sure you’re registering a Windows 10 Pro version with your Windows 8 pro key. If it’s Windows 10 home or other versions, they won’t accept this key.

  2. I want to move my Windows 8.1 retail license to a new computer (which will run Windows 10).

    Instead of formatting my Windows 8.1 computer, can’t I just unplug the computer from the Internet permanently? Unless there are other commands that must be performed prior to formatting the computer, I just don’t see how running the format command tells the Activation Servers the license is no longer used…

    • Hey Steve, I think if you disconnect your old computer from internet, Microsoft won’t know you’re still having it. But remember to uninstall the license if you’re planning to reconnect it.

  3. Hey, thanks for the article!

    Is it work, if I have Win10 Pro OEM key, and I would like to move the ssd drive to a new machine, which has same configuration. So, probably the Windows will start normaly in the new machine, but the Windows will be inactive.
    So before I take the SSD out from the old machine, I shoud uninstall the Windows 10 product key from the current computer, and after I put the SSD in the new machine, I reactivate the license? Is it work with OEM key or not?

    • Hello Alex, well, OEM keys are tied to your motherboard and not to your SSD, so unfortunately, this is not gonna work.

  4. Milind Gavkar on

    Really a good article!

    But I have a doubt or two. I bought “Full Home Version” or “Retail” or “Boxed” version that accompany a pendrive.

    I installed on my new machine and activated it.

    Now I want to transfer this W10 to another machine and install a new W10 Pro on first machine. Question – [1] Should I uninstall a product key? [2] Shall I have to type a product key during installation on another (second) PC?

    Confusion goes on and on and on…

    Help and thanks!

    • hello Milind, it’s recommended that you uninstall the product key before installing the same version on the other PC. And you may need to type the product key during the installation but you can skip it and enter it within 30 days.

      • Milind Gavkar on

        Thanks a ton Mina!

        But I still have one doubt. What if my Windows 10 hard disk suddenly failed, in this case one cannot uninstall product key. What is the procedure for this type of problem? This is obiviously imaginary but possible problem.

        Once again, sincere thanks for replying!

        Have a wonderful day ahead!

        • Hello again Milind, you’re always welcome. Since you’re not going to use the same version with the same license on both computers, you don’t even need to uninstall the license, it’s preferable but you don’t have to worry about it unless you’ll be running both computers with the same version and key. Then, don’t bother if you encounter a hard disk problem, just install the license to the new computer and remove the whole windows version from the old one and install your pro version on the old one. It should cause no harm.

  5. How would I transfer the license to the new laptop this way.
    The old laptop came with OEM Windows 8.1 and was upgraded to Windows 10 Home during the free upgrades.
    Later I bought the Windows 10 Pro upgrade from the Store app using my Microsoft Account and the old laptop is running Windows 10 Pro now.
    I am getting rid of the old laptop and new laptop has Windows 10 Home OEM built in.
    Is there a way to transfer the Windows 10 Pro upgrade purchased from Store app on old laptop to activate Windows 10 Pro on the new laptop?

    • Hello Matt, since your Windows was OEM, it means it’s attached to the hardware itself (motherboard to be more specific), then it’s impossible to use the purchase you made on different computers (which explains why it’s cheaper than retail versions). If you want to update the new laptop, then you have to update it from the store and buy the Windows 10 Pro update again.

  6. I used to have a computer with Windows 7 (retail, not OEM), which was upgraded to Windows 10 for free. Then, this first computer’s hard drive crashed, so I transferred the OS to a different computer. My question is, am I okay to transfer Windows 10 from this second computer to another computer? Thank you!

    • Yes it’s totally okay only if the Windows versions are the same, which means if you have the Home version, switch to another computer running a Home version. Same for Pro, education and enterprise versions.

  7. Hello Mina. What is the situation of legalised previously pirated versions? I had a pirated Win 7, and about time Win 8 came out there was this Microsoft action- I paid about 50 usd and they sent me a product key and ever after Microsoft servers recognized me as a legal user. Now I have Win 10, there were no problems with the upgrade. It’s a pro version. So if I buy a new computer around Black Friday can I not pay for new Win 10 license? Is my license movable? My old computer is a Conroe – generation thing and I won’t use it anymore. Thanks in advance.

    • Hello Adam, well since you paid for it, I think it will cause no problem at all.. Just make sure it’s not an OEM windows key (which is related to the motherboard, and that only happens if you computer has a pre-installed Windows version) and then moving the license will be smooth. Good luck.

    • Hello Matt, in your CMD windows, type this command:
      slmgr -dli
      A windows will appear with lots of information about your license, in the description line, it will say OEM or retail. There you are.

  8. Great stuff. Thanks. Can i swap license keys? I have old laptop w/W10 Pro upgraded from W7 Home Premium when MS offered discounted upgrades to W10 years ago; and i just bought new laptop with W10 Home. The idea is to take advantage of the W10Pro on the new laptop and have the old still running but on W10 Home. Thank you.

    • Hello Jim, I’m afraid that both licenses are OEM since you got them with the laptops, which means the license key is connected to the mother board and you can’t swap them. But give it a shot and run this command to see if by luck any of them is retail (can be transferred): run this command in your CMD windows:
      slmgr -dli
      A windows will appear with lots of information about your license, in the description line, it will say OEM or retail.
      if both are OEM, you can always upgrade your Windows from home to Pro from the store app, it will cost you around $100.

  9. Hi all technical supporters! I bought a used laptop hp and its windows now is 10pro retail (as I check in cdm) and I link my ms account now. On the bottom it has windows 8 pro logo sticker(must be oem). Question: can I transfer that windows 10 pro license to a new laptop? Anyways I follow the above guild to deactivate my old laptop by resetting the Pc and uninstall the product key in poweshell It showed windows is not activate. But as I press troubleshoot, the windows was activated again (no sign in ms account). So how can I completely deactivate my windows 10 pro with my old laptop i want to sell it before I buy a new one. If new owner activate windows , will I lost that license key or not? I have link that license to my ms account. Or as I reactivate my new laptop with ms account , my old will lost activate directly? Thanks I hop to get your help soon.

    • Hello Jason, since your Windows 10 Pro license is retail, then you can transfer it to another laptop. you can try deactivating the Windows and then reset your PC (without running the troubleshooter) and see if the license is gone. Anyway you don’t have to worry because your license is linked to your Microsoft account, so your laptop will have the priority to the activation. If you’re afraid of troubles, you can always buy a new one, transfer the license to it and then reset the old laptop, it won’t get activated for sure.

  10. This worked AWESOME thanks!! I was having a ton of problems with the customer support (they couldn’t/wouldn’t activate my key) but after I did this it worked like a charm!

  11. Alan on 9/23/2018 8:06 pm on

    I tried to activate over the INTERNET and it wouldn’t work. I called Microsoft on 9/22/2018 and told them I wanted to upgrade from Windows 7 to 10 and the told me I can’t do it !! I was told to go to the store and buy Windows or a key. The number I called was 800-426-9400

    • Hello Alan, you should try this one:
      Go to Windows 10 download page https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 and download the media creation tool. Once downloaded, run the tool and you will be able to choose between two options: Upgrade this PC now (this one is what you are looking for) or Create installation media for another PC (in case you want a bootable version for Windows 10 and run it on any device to make a fresh install). Please come back if you need any help from us… Good luck!

  12. Hello Mina,

    Thank you for answering so quick. I already installed Win 10 and put all my programs on it and set it up as far as I could go. I did that so in case I screwed it up I could reinstall it and not have to reactivate it again. I went back and tried to activate it again it still said I could not activate it. Then I went farther down on the page and saw a link to type another product key. I typed in my Win 7 product key and WALA, It activated. I don’t know is Microsoft employees told to lie ! Lucky me, now I am activated.

    • Yay I’m so happy you could make it. I was going to suggest that exact solution but you did it yourself! So, nice shot hehe 😀

  13. Hello Nina,

    Thanks for your great tutorial, I have one laptop having licensed window 10 pro-education with a retail license. I want to shift this license to window 10 pro on another laptop so can it be possible for me or not.

    Thanking you very much

    • Mina Magued Mounir on

      Hello Hassan, as long as it’s retail, you have all rights to shift the license to another laptop. Try it and tell me if you encounter any problem, I’ll do my best to help. Good luck!

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