My son's machine had Windows 8/8.1 Home and updated to Windows 10. Someone told him to use a random Windows 10 Pro key and he would get Pro for free.

It didn't work obviously and now he see's a "Activate Windows" watermark on the screen and has an un-activated generic pro key tied to this computer.

He doesn't even need pro and I was wondering if it's possible to get back to the home key that came with the laptop. The whole activation/product key thing is very confusing now that it's in the BIOS. They didn't ship the computer with any key that I can find.

Is it possible to find the home key that came with the laptop? Would it be on the USB backup that we made?

Any help or pointing me in the right direction would be great.

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    You don't have a Windows 10 key. The only version of Windows 10 you can get for FREE is Windows 10 Home. All you need to do is install Windows 10, and when asked for the license number, skip that step. Windows 10 Home will AUTOMATICALLY detect your Windows 8.1 license and activated AUTOMATICALLY. Don't listen to the person who gave you the previous advice, they have absolutely no idea, what they are talking about. – Ramhound Mar 28 '16 at 16:24
  • "The only version of Windows 10 you can get for FREE is Windows 10 Home" I got pro for free, W7pro>W10 Pro upgrade? – Moab Mar 28 '16 at 17:58
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    @Moab because you had a pro key. he has a home key, so he only gets home for free. – LPChip Mar 28 '16 at 20:10
  • @Ramhound, that only works if he uses a Microsoft Account that had upgrade beforehand on any computer. It should be the same account. – El8dN8 Aug 4 '17 at 8:16
  • @El8tedN8te You are absolutely incorrect. Linking the license to your Microsoft Account is an optional feature that was added to Windoes 10 starting with 1511. I know I am 100% correct about this. – Ramhound Aug 4 '17 at 11:15

You can't just convert from any install to a lower-grade version. This means you will have to a clean install of windows.

Downgrading is possible with some installations, but it will keep the same sub-version. So Windows 10 pro to windows 8 pro is yes, but windows 10 pro to windows 10 home is not.

So it will require reinstalling windows. You can reinstall windows 10 with a windows 8 keycode though.

  • where do I get the keycode? I can't find one in all the stuff that came with the laptop. If I download a Win10 iso or USB image and do a re-install will the one that came with the laptop be found automatically? – Jeff Mar 28 '16 at 16:10
  • @JeffAlexander There are numerous post Windows 10 Version 1511 answers on that subject, you just provide the Windows 10 installer, the license key to the eligible version of Windows your upgrading from. Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 license keys are automatically detected. – Ramhound Mar 28 '16 at 17:23

Since he updated from Windows 8 Home to Windows 10 Home using his Microsoft Account he will share the SAME KEY as everyone else (who have done the same thing as him). This key specifies it only works for people with a License connected to their account. Sharing this key is not illegal nor wrong as it is common knowledge and shared globally. This resolution does not require a reinstallation. Evidence of legality:

  • I upgraded several devices with different account checked the key: the same!
  • I asked a Microsoft Employee: He says everyone who has upgraded share it. Therefore it is legal.

By using this key, as it is linked with their Microsoft Account, they must be logged in as they activate with this key, using an account in which they had upgraded with before.


You may have to use slui.exe (Windows Activation Client). You may use Windows Run (Win + R).

  • slui.exe 3 - Enter product key
  • slui.exe 4 - Activate by phone. Type in the key before hand first. Use this if activation fails

Some things you want want on hand is the OEM License Key and Product Key of Windows 8.1 or 8 if you are connected to an agent if this activation fails.

To obtain the information (do this beforehand) use the utility ProduKey.exe . You may have to deactivate some firewalls (third-party and or Windows Defender). Unlike the other utilities (as posted) this one is free and it gets the OEM keys that are inbuilt into BIOS. This may also be handy if you want to reinstall Windows 8 or 8.1 (if you want to do the entire nagging process over again from 8.1).

  • Didn't realize the post is so old. It somehow got poked by something or someone. Realize that I did not bump it. – El8dN8 Aug 4 '17 at 8:56
  • The key you provided is a generic key which cannot be used to install nor activate Windows 10 by itself but would be you would retrieve if you went looking for wha key you were using. Only the OEM Windows 8 license would actually be accepted by Windows has an license key that could be activated (even done today after the free offer expired) but not required since Windows 10 Home was already activated on the machine in question. Like I said over a year ago, the author would simply skip that step, and the result would be an activated installation of Windows 10 Home. – Ramhound Aug 4 '17 at 11:20
  • @Ramhound, thank you for the knowledge. I was trying to list a solution that tried to go around the issue or reinstalling. I must incorrect that: Since the free offer expired only Microsoft Account that have activated before can do so another free activation. – El8dN8 Aug 4 '17 at 12:10
  • There wasn't another "free" activation, you had a digital entitlement, which meant it would activate a 100 times. – Ramhound Aug 4 '17 at 12:12
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    You cannot go from an actived Windows 10 Professional installation to Windows 10 Home installation (you can only upgrade) – Ramhound Aug 4 '17 at 12:37

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