Windows Insider Preview Builds will no longer require a key, but only on PCs which previously had Windows 10 activated
Last week, Microsoft released Windows 10 Build 10525, the first Insider Preview version, after the operating system made its debut a month ago.
It introduced a couple of minor customization features, but that’s not what we are discussing here today.
The members of the Windows Insider Program will be observing a rather substantial change. The build released last week, had some users puzzled over activation issues. This is because Microsoft has not provided keys for Preview Builds, so if someone is trying Windows 10 Build 10525 for the first time on a device which did not have Windows 10 installed prior to the new version, Windows 10 will not be validated.
A user questioned Microsoft’s Gabriel Aul, regarding this. He asked Aul whether Microsoft will be publishing new keys for Windows 10 Preview Builds, and this is what the Redmond Company’s official had to say:
@viceroy101 No, builds from here on will not be prekeyed or include keys. You can install on a PC that had an activated 10240 to activate.
— Gabriel Aul (@GabeAul) August 22, 2015
That maybe a simple answer, but it actually means more. We already know that users who previously upgraded from a genuine copy of Windows 7/8 to Windows 10, will have their new OS activated without entering a product key. They will also be able to clean install Windows 10, as many times as they want, on the same PC, without having to enter a key. This is because Microsoft stores a hash of the computer’s hardware, on its servers to validate Windows 10.
The Insider Preview Builds, released after the RTM build 10240, will work in the same way, i.e., you will only be able to have a Preview Build activated, if you had installed the Build 10240 installed and activated on the PC. This also applies to Virtual Machines that you have, so if you had activated Build 10240 on a PC, and dual booted Windows 10, or installed it in a VM, your copy of Windows 10 will stay activated.
However, Virtual Machines of Windows 10, which have been installed on a computer on which Windows 10 has not been activated, will not be a validated. You can however try Windows 10 for free for 30 days, or buy a new license for Windows 10.
By doing this Microsoft is essentially limiting the number of Windows Insiders who will be able to use Windows 10, as people without a genuine copy will not be able to access Preview Builds. This move, in combination with “Windows as a service”, could help Microsoft reduce Windows 10 Piracy.