Windows 10 now allows users to activate the OS using a product key
Microsoft has introduced a huge change in the latest build of Windows 10, which was released earlier today.
Beginning from Windows 10 Build 10565, users will be able to activate the operating system using the old fashioned way.
Members of the Insider Program reportedly told the Redmond Company (through the feedback and user forums) that they wanted to activate Windows 10, with their old product key. That is, they wanted to use the key which they used to activate Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1, and the same which made them eligible for the free upgrade offer to Windows 10.
And Microsoft has given the green light for this proposal.
How to activate Windows 10 with a product key:
Navigate to Settings > Update & security > Activation and select the option which says Change Product Key.
Alternatively, you can also do this during a clean install of Windows 10. During the setup process of the operating system, you will be prompted to enter the product key from your prior Windows version.
A little flashback on the previous activation methods:
Microsoft drew in a lot of flak, for not allowing users to use a product key to activate Windows 10, if the user had clean installed the operating system. According to its new policy, a user had to be on their eligible copy Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 to be eligible for the free upgrade offer to the new operating system.
If the user did not adhere to the order of the upgrade mentioned above, the PC would be stuck with an unactivated version of Windows 10.
So, in case a user had formatted the hard drive, and installed Windows 10 directly (before the RTM Build 10240), the user would have to revert to the older operating system, activate it again, and then wait for the Window 10 upgrade to arrive, and then install it as an upgrade over the older OS.
This proved to be too much of a hassle, but it is likely that the Redmond company had probably wanted to use this auto-activation system to prevent pirated copies from being activated. But my guess is this was changed to the good old “product key” method, when Microsoft launched retail versions of Windows 10 (DVDs and Flash Drives).
Microsoft did make things easier for users who had installed the RTM build. Such users can clean install Windows 10 any number of times, and the operating system would still stay activated, as long as they do not make any major changes to the hardware (like a new motherboard or processor).