There’s a long list of reasons why you should probably download the Windows 10 Anniversary Update: better Cortana, the new Windows Ink, or just the long list of bug and security fixes. But if all that doesn’t do it for you, how about a long-needed fix to the way Windows handles licenses?
Starting with the Anniversary Update, Windows 10 now contains an “Activation Troubleshooter,” which lets you associate your copy of Windows with a Microsoft account, rather than tying it to the physical computer hardware. That noise you hear in the background? It’s everyone who has ever built their own PC crying with joy.
The Activation Troubleshooter rolled to beta testers a little while ago, but as noted by Extreme Tech (and confirmed by Microsoft), it’s now active in the latest version of 10. The way it works is pretty simple: you associate your Windows 10 license with a Microsoft account. Then, when you make a significant hardware change — switching out a motherboard and processor, say — you sign into the same Microsoft account and re-activate.
This is much better than the old system, which relied on a phone call to Microsoft Support and some finger-crossing. As you’d expect from any process involving the words “Microsoft” and “Support”, it wasn’t always successful.
There will still be a limit to the number of times you can activate Windows apparently, so this won’t be a magic fix for users with two computers. But it’s still nice to see Microsoft finally adopt the same method of software licensing that the rest of the world discovered a decade ago.