How to transfer Microsoft Windows 10 license to a new computer?

By ivan.diskin | August 2, 2018 |

greater than 9 minutes

If you bought a Windows 10 license from Microsoft to use on a specific device, then you can transfer your key and use it on another PC. This way, you get to save the money that would have gone towards the purchase of a new product key.

Going from the reports we have seen, there is a good chance you are planning to retire your current device soon if you are building a much more powerful machine to serve as your primary computer. Or maybe you are about to sell your PC, but you somehow want to keep your Windows license. Or perhaps, you are merely switching computers and do not intend to pay for a new product key since you already have one.

To be fair, not many users think of transferring their product license to another device, but this statement has nothing to do with the success of the operation involved or its complexity. As far as we know, this procedure comes in handy for a good number of people who are familiar with cost-saving initiatives.

We know of several methods that users can employ to get the job done, but chances are that, not every one of them will apply to you. In fact, in some cases, you will find out that even a single approach is not available for you to use. The mode by which you obtained your Windows license is a crucial factor that determines what would work for you.

Regardless of the all the variables or parameters that might come into play, we will guide you through the best ways of transferring a Windows 10 license to a new PC.

How to find out if your Windows 10 product key is transferable?

The reason you have to do this first is apparent enough—you would not want to waste time on a lengthy operation only to find out close to the end that things were never going to work out. Here, we will examine some rules or guidelines set by Microsoft. They often determine if a product key is transferable at all or how many times a user is allowed to move it.

  1. For users with a retail copy of Windows:

  • If you purchased a genuine retail copy of Windows 10, then you have it best. You are free to transfer and use your license on another device several times. The same rule applies to users who ended up with Windows 10 if they got it through an upgrade of an original copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 they bought some time ago. The product key is always moveable in such scenarios.
  • In theory, you can transfer the product key as many times as you like but we are not holding our breath with regards to everything going smoothly each time you try. We have seen reports from a good number of users who confirmed that they started seeing an activation error message or something similar after they moved Windows license to different devices numerous times.
  • If it happened to them, then you too could become a victim. If you ever get the activation error message in the future, then you would have to contact Microsoft and explain the issue to them. They will probably help you to activate your copy of Windows 10 after they verify certain things.
  1. For users with an OEM licensed copy of the operating system:

  • On the other end of the spectrum, we have users with systems running Windows 10 because the manufacturers of their computers preinstalled it for them. If you are one of such people, then you should know that you have an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) license instead of a retail license.

In case you are yet to figure it all out, the type of license you have does not allow transfer of the product key to another device. It might seem unfortunate, but the rule exists.

  • Similarly, the same rule applies to users who have systems running Windows 10 only because they upgraded to the new version of Windows from an older iteration like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 that was preinstalled on their devices.

If you are one of them, then you surely must understand that the Windows 10 on your system simply inherited the same OEM rights from the Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 that was there before.

  • Therefore, if you want to install a genuine copy of Windows 10 on a new device but your current Windows 10 version is one with OEM rights (not the retail copy), then there is just one line of action you could take—you must purchase a retail copy of Windows 10. Otherwise, you should have bought a PC that came with Windows 10 pre-installed.
  1. Other things to note:

  • You must understand that the product key you intend to use on a new PC has to correspond to the edition of Windows 10 it was purchased for in the first place.
  • By this, we mean that if for example, you bought a Windows 10 Home product key, which you used on a Home edition of Windows 10 before you decided to uninstall it from your current device, then you can transfer that product key only to a computer running a Home Edition of Windows 10.
  • Your license was not valid on a Pro edition of Windows then and it will still appear invalid on a fresh copy of Windows 10 Pro (or any version that differs from the Home edition) even after you uninstall it from your current device.
  • If you want to activate a fresh copy of Windows 10 whose edition differs from that for which you have a license on a new computer, then you must purchase a new product key for that new edition.

Note that the rules stated here might differ slightly from other guidelines you might come across with on the web. The information we have provided here is based on what goes for the regular consumer channels. After all, Microsoft distributes its software through other channels, which might have rules that are not in line with the ones you see here.

Since we have explained what goes for all categories of users with their different versions or copies of Windows 10, we can now move on to the primary operation that brought you here.

How to reuse product key for Windows 10 on a new PC?

If you correctly determined that you have a retail copy of Windows 10 or one that inherited the transferable rights from a retail copy of Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 after an upgrade, then you can follow these instructions to transfer your product key to a new PC:

First, you need to uninstall the license from its current location. This part of the operation must be performed on the old computer or the device you are seeking to strip of its license. Here are the steps you need:

  • You have to open an elevated Command Prompt window as the operation you are about to execute requires many permissions or privileges to work successfully. Press and hold the Windows button on your keyboard, then tap the letter X key to bring up the Power User menu, which consists of a list of programs and options. Select Command Prompt (Admin).
  • After the Command Prompt: Administrator program window shows up, you must input the following code and hit the Enter button on your keyboard to force its execution at once: slmgr /upk

If everything went well, you should see a message stating the product key was uninstalled successfully. This notification should be enough to assure you of your success. On the other hand, if you saw a message stating a different thing or you saw nothing at all, then you must continue with the instructions below

  • Input the code once more and hit the Enter key on your keyboard. You might have to do this numerous times until you see a message indicating that the operation was a success.
  • At this stage, we expect that you have uninstalled the product key that was present on your device. You are now free to use the product key on the new computer.

It is important you know that this method of transferring your Windows 10 license does not do enough to get rid of the link that exists between your copy of Windows 10 and your computer. The information we are referring to here is stored on Microsoft servers.

What this operation does well though is prevent the activation mechanism from detecting that the same product key is in active use on more than one device. This way, you get to use your Windows 10 license on the new machine after your old computer has lost its activation and license.

How to transfer your Windows 10 license to a new computer using Command Prompt?

If you are trying to move your Windows license to a new PC because your old computer has stopped working and you cannot access it, then the operation here is for you precisely. This time, you do not have to carry out any procedure on the old device. All the work is going to be done on the new computer. We expect that you have your product key close to you, though.

Follow these instructions to install your product key on a system running a fresh copy of Windows 10:

  • Press the Windows button on your keyboard or click on the Windows Start icon that is always visible on your desktop screen. Input the following keywords into the text field present to do a quick search: Command Prompt

From the results you see, right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator from the short menu list that shows up.

  • After the Administrator: Command Prompt program window comes on, you must input the following code and hit the Enter key once you are done to run it (note that the alphabets “xxxxx” represent the digits from your product key, so you must replace them accordingly): slmgr /ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx

Windows should now install the product key on your new device

  • If the first operation went well, then you must move to the next one. Input this new code and hit the Enter key to force its execution once you are done typing it: slmgr /dlv

The command you just ran is used to verify that the activation process was successful. A new window (Windows Script Host) should come up. There, if you see “License” recorded as the value for License Status, then it means that you successfully activated your copy of Windows 10 using the product key you entered earlier.

On the other hand, if the value for License Status did not read “Licensed”, then you must continue with the instructions below:

How to activate a fresh copy of Windows 10 manually using a product key

  • Open a Command Prompt window with administrative powers or privileges. We showed you how to do this in the first step above or in the first step of the previous procedure (How to transfer Window 10 product key to a new PC)
  • Windows should launch the Administrator: Command Prompt program window as usual, but this time you must type in the following code and tap the Enter key to execute it swiftly once you are done: slui 4
  • The Windows 10 Activation Wizard should be on your screen by now. Open the drop-down menu under Select your country or region to see a list of nations or geographical locations. Select the one that applies to you and click on the Next button to move on
  • On the next screen, you should see a toll-free number. You must call this number to get in touch with Microsoft’s customer service. You will be asked to provide your installation ID number, so you must keep this in mind
  • Once you are done with the work on your current screen, you must click on the Enter confirmation ID button. On the next screen, you have to type in the Confirmation ID that the Microsoft support agent gave you. You will use this piece of information to activate your copy of Windows
  • After you finish typing, click on the Activate Windows button at the bottom of your screen. Windows should now move to activate your license on your new computer. This time, we expect everything to go smoothly

Final words

At this point, we expect that you have your recently activated copy of Windows 10 running. Before we end this article, we have a couple of recommendations for you:

  • Download and run Auslogics Anti-Malware because your new device is probably lacking any form of reliable protection. You finished installing Windows 10 not so long, after all.
  • Download and install Auslogics BoostSpeed. This superb program will help you carry out the most effective optimizations procedures on your PC to ensure that your system reaches its peak performance levels.

Did any of the methods above help you transfer your Windows 10 license to your new computer? Let us know in the comments section below!

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