Let's say I use the offer for a free Win10 installation before 2016-07-29, using an old Win7 key.

So far, so good, I now have a working Win10 on my PC.

The FAQ at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/12435/windows-10-upgrade-faq says

Can I reinstall Windows 10 on my PC after upgrading? Yes. Once you’ve upgraded to Windows 10 using the free upgrade offer, you can reinstall or perform a clean installation on the same device. You won’t need a product key to re-activate Windows 10 on the same hardware. For more info on how to create your own Windows 10 installation media, go to the Microsoft software download website.

What is "the same device"? I have the habit to update my PCs piece by piece; will I have to buy a new license when I replace the mainboard/CPU/video card/HDD?

  • I read somewhere (I think it was in a print magazine) that you can "store" your Windows 10 license in your Microsoft account. Maybe worth checking in that direction – user2543253 Jul 21 '16 at 12:54
  • If you replace the motherboard on the deviceit requires to call Microsoft. Having a Microsoft Account does not store the license information unless you have a retail copy of Windows 10. – Ramhound Jul 21 '16 at 12:58
  • @Ramhound, does "requires to call Microsoft" mean that it is their discretion whether they let me re-use the free license later? I.e., if I, for whatever reason, fail to convince them that it is really me upgrading my PC (and not using a stolen key), then it's gone? Or are there some rules concerning this which I can read up on? – AnoE Jul 21 '16 at 13:02
  • @AnoE - The policy really has not changed. If you replace the motherboard on an OEM machine, you have to call Microsoft, they don't normally make a big deal about it. A retail machine is a little different, and while the Retail usage rights do transfer to the free upgrade,, its a little more complicate because of digital entitlement system on Windows 10. If you are worried my best advice, call the Microsoft Activation Center, and simply ask a human. – Ramhound Jul 21 '16 at 13:24
  • @Ramhoud, thanks - I'm not really familiar with retail PCs, having upgraded mine since, oh, about 1990 in an unbroken line. I'll see if I find some number to call, though I prefer these things in official, written form on some website (said human can tell me lots of things which won't "count" after the fact ;) ). – AnoE Jul 21 '16 at 13:27

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