Article Number: 000124678

Windows 10 Activation After Free Upgrade Period and Hardware / Part Replacement / OS Reinstall

Summary: How to activate Windows 10 after the free upgrade period when you replace hardware or reinstall Windows.

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Summary: This article will cover Windows 10 activation questions after the free upgrade period when you have had hardware that is replaced or the OS reinstalled.

Windows 10 Upgrade

The free Windows 10 upgrade offer ended on July 29 2016. There may be concerns about reactivating Windows 10 on upgraded systems after hardware replacement or an Operating System reinstall. These scenarios cause the Operating System to reactivate by contacting Microsoft servers. A digital entitlement is used instead of a product key for Windows 10. This entitlement is tied to the hardware ID of the motherboard and other system components. Yet, the motherboard can be replaced without causing this entitlement to be lost.

Dell has tested different combinations of replacing the motherboard, hard drive, and reinstalling the Operating System. We confirmed that systems can be reactivated in these scenarios. But, swapping a hard drive from an activated system to an identical model that was not previously upgraded causes the Operating System to be deactivated. The digital entitlement system is designed to allow normal hardware repairs while preventing abuse. It also allows for a fresh Windows 10 reinstallation, or a factory imaged hard drive to be activated on a system that was previously upgraded.

SLN303003_en_US__1icon Note: Windows 10 installation media can be obtained from: Download Windows 10 SLN303003_en_US__2iC_External_Link_BD_v1

Windows 10 Activation

Please follow these tips when troubleshooting activation issues. The activation status can be checked by right-clicking the Start menu and selecting System. If the Operating System is not activated, then there is a link next to the status that allows you to try to activate it. Typing "Activation" in Cortana is a quick way to get to this app. The system must be connected to the Internet to reach the Microsoft activation servers.

SLN303003_en_US__1icon Note: If the activation status does not change after connecting to the Internet, try rebooting the system.

Windows 10 Anniversary Addition has added a robust troubleshooter that pops up when activation fails. You should refer to Microsoft support for additional help with activation issues. Microsoft has the ability to grant exceptions to resolve these issues.

SLN303003_en_US__1icon Note: For general information about the Windows reinstall process, go to article: SLN130027 - Factory reset, restore, or reinstall Microsoft Windows on a Dell computer

If you have further questions about this article, please contact Dell Technical Support.

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Last Published Date

05 Dec 2020



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