Windows 10 is one of the most praised, Microsoft products of the year, but the new operating system isn’t providing users with a hassle-free experience. Privacy concerns, upgrade bugs, massive data consumption, and future update worries are just of the few instances where Windows 10 has proven to be quite an annoying new OS. In case that’s not enough, there’s one more reason to worry about your free Windows 10 install, especially if you’re the kind of PC user who constantly upgrades his or her desktop.
Every time you change the hardware of your computer, especially major components, there’s a chance that Windows 10 will not recognize the machine as a computer that’s allowed to run an authorized version of Windows 10. Instead, it might be labeled as a non-genuine Windows 10 install, and there’s no automated process to make that kind of error disappear.
According to How-to Geek, Windows 10 doesn’t come with a serial key that you can use and reuse every time you want to install a fresh copy on the same computer. While the system will automatically detect that you’re allowed to use Windows 10 on a selected machine each time you perform a clean install, it might not do the same once you change individual components, including processor or motherboard.
As long as your PC’s specs coincide with the ones Microsoft registered about you when it gave you a free Windows 10 update, you’re always going to be just fine. Once those specs differ, you’re in temporary trouble.
The only fix is contacting Microsoft support to tell them your story, at which point your Windows 10 license will be activated on the computer. To do so, you have to go to the Services & apps app, then Windows, then Setting Up. In there you can chat with a Microsoft support representative or have one call you on the phone so that you can explain your problem and await a fix. A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft confirmed that’s the way to go, so this solution will fix your Windows 10 activation issues on an upgraded PC.
There’s one more problem Windows 10 users who came from Windows 7 or Windows 8 should be aware of. Even if they purchased a full retail license of either Windows 7 or Windows 8 and then move to Windows 10, that doesn’t give them the right install Windows 10 on a brand-new machine.
Full retail licenses let anyone take their Windows license from one PC to the next, as long as they remove it from the previous machine. But upgrading from a full retail license of Windows 7 or Windows 8 doesn’t get you a free, portable, full retail Windows 10 license as you’d expect. That’s something you’ll have to buy separately.