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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9 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.

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