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Windows 10 free upgrades will support unlimited clean installs

Windows 10 free upgrades will support unlimited clean installs

by AshwinJune 3, 2015

Microsoft’s Gabe Aul has confirmed that Windows 10 free upgrades will support unlimited clean installs.


The Head of the Windows Insider Program, announced the news on Twitter.

Prior to this announcement, it was unclear how clean installations of Windows 10 would work. Users were worried that a reset or clean install made after July 28th, 2016, i.e one year after the launch of Windows 10, will prevent Windows from being validated as a genuine copy. Even the Microsoft Forums did not provide a clear answer to this issue.

But now it is apparent from Aul’s tweet, that Windows 10 validations aren’t restricted to the built-in Reset feature in Windows. Once a user upgrades to the final version of Windows 10, from a licensed version of Windows 7 or 8.x, he can safely perform a clean install of the new OS at any time. There are no limitations to the number of times Windows can be wiped and “clean installed”.

Clean Installs of Windows 10 will not require a Windows Product Key after a clean install:

If you are worried that your PC may not be activated if Windows 10 does not recognize a license key from Windows 7 or 8, relax. Windows 10 will not need the key at all.

Aul also said that clean installs of Windows 10 on a machine which previously has the OS, will not require the user to activate it manually using a Windows 8.1 key. This should apply to Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines as well.

How Windows 10 will automatically validate a license:

This is just my speculation of how Windows 10 will validate a license, after a clean install has been performed.

The move mentioned above suggests that Microsoft could be implying a combination of Windows License Status and a hardware fingerprint recognition system. We believe that the latter will uniquely identify a PC. This in turn will cross-check with the “Windows License Status” mechanism to see if the PC had Windows 10 activated on it prior to the clean install. If a machine on which Windows 10 was clean installed, passes both checks, Microsoft’s authentication system should automatically reactivate Windows.

Windows 10 is launching on July 29th, 2015.  The new OS is being offered as a free upgrade for users of (genuine versions of) Windows 7 and Windows 8.x users, until July 28th, 2016.

Users who wish to upgrade to Windows 10 after the free upgrade period, will be required to purchase a new license for Windows 10. Yesterday, we reported about the official prices of Windows 10. The Home Edition costs $119, while the Pro Edition costs $199.

  • Scott
    June 3, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Here’s how MS will validate your copy — unlike previous installs of Windows, you will NOT be able to set it up with an offline local machine only account. I bet you a million bucks MS will require you have a Live/Microsoft ID to not only activate your copy, but sign into the machine every time. This is also likely because for everyone but Enterprise users, you HAVE to get all updates no matter what…so you have to be online to some degree no matter what. And since MS is investing so heavily into web/mobile apps that need the Live ID…well, this makes sense.

    So kiss your local machine only account bye bye in the future or everyone but Enterprise (my guess is this’ll be the other major Enterprise selling point).

    • Ashwin
      June 3, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      You make a good point there. A Microsoft id could be mandatory for activating Windows (along with a hardware fingerprint), but I do hope that they support a local account too. Or they should at least allow users to switch to a local account, once Windows is validated. I do use most of Microsoft’s service, but I don’t like to sign-in all the time.

      Regarding the updates, yes Microsoft will not allow non-Enterprise users to skip updates. We reported that in an article. and I agree that is a really dumb move from MS. One buggy update will be enough to make Microsoft realise its mistake, but it is likely that MS will push updates to the Insiders first and then to the general public, to minimise the risk of buggy updates. If that is the case, updates could be delayed for Home, Pro users, and with Patch Tuesday supposedly dead, I think MS has made a real mess with Windows Updates.

      • Scott
        June 4, 2015 at 2:55 am

        Here’s the thing — I think MS knows users will dislike always being forced to have every update and have their OS online at regular intervals. This will be when MS creates a subscription based Windows OS…probably around $3.99-4.99/mo. that gives users all the perks Enterprise users get. They’ll do this about 12-18 months from now, after adequate time has passed from launch and regular users have become envious of the features/options only Ent users get.

        Heck, MS may even bundle Word/Excel/Powerpoint & WIndows “Ultimate” (Enterprise rebranded for home users) for $10-15/mo.

        This has all been long planned out in advance. MS expects people to subscribe to their OS for the best experience.

  • Neil Barnett
    September 1, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Well, having seen Office 365, I can’t stand the grey on white text of the new Windows apps, so that’s one aspect of the “best experience” that I would gladly forego.
    For that matter, this is tiny text in grey on a white ground! What moron thought this was a good idea? I may not be as old as some users, but, frankly, you clearly don’t want the opinion of anyone over the age of 20. And Google’s doing it, too. I’ve been working on computers for over 4 decades and I hope to continue, but you’re not making it easy,

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