Today is the 2nd last day before the Windows 10 Free Upgrade offer expires. I'd like to know - does the current ISO (or installer) downloaded via the Media Creation Tool (MCT) allow for inputting the Windows 7/8/8.1 product key during the install?

This was possible on the 1511 ISO that was only available for a short time and it meant that a clean install became a one step process for activation. But Microsoft decided to pull the ISO from distribution and only allow the 1511 cumulative update to be applied via Windows Automatic Updates.

Can anyone advise if the ISO available today via the MCT has this ability?

  • If you use the Media Creation Tool to install the upgrade. You don't have to input a license key at any point. Activation is done automatically.
    – Ramhound
    Jul 28, 2016 at 3:01
  • @Ramhound - What source do you have to confirm this? Because what you're saying is that at no point do you have to enter a product key - which on a clean install for a computer that hasn't been upgraded yet (ie. not activated on the Windows activation servers) you'd essentially be getting Windows 10 without having Windows 7/8/8.1 first. The only times where you wouldn't need to input a product key during a clean install is if the system has previously been activated with Windows 10 or the Windows 8/8.1 system's BIOS has an EFI embedded product key.
    – Reece
    Jul 28, 2016 at 4:58
  • 1
    why was this question downvoted?
    – Reece
    Jul 28, 2016 at 4:59
  • It's not well researched. You indicated you were upgrading from a Windows 7 to Windows 10 at no point does that require a product key if upgraded from within Windows. A "clean install" can be done by selecting to keep nothing.
    – Ramhound
    Jul 28, 2016 at 16:09
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    I disagree entirely. At no point did I say I was doing an in place upgrade. And you DO NOT need the Media Creation Tool for this at all. My question & comments specifically refer to the MCT for making a bootable USB installer or ISO. A "clean install" reformats the hard drive and most definitely requires a product key at some point (unless you had already done an in-place upgrade & activated then decided to do a clean install). Whether that is typed in or retreived from the EFI BIOS is determined by the pre-existing OS. My question was asking about the current ISO downloaded by the MCT.
    – Reece
    Jul 28, 2016 at 23:14

2 Answers 2


According to this page, you should be able to activate Windows 10 during the free upgrade period using a Windows 7 Key (expand the Activating Windows 10 (Version 1511 or higher) using a Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 product key section towards the bottom of the page).

Since the Media Tool is one of the primary ways to gets Windows 10, I would imagine that your key will work. More so, if the build of Windows 10 is 1511 or higher it should definitely work. From experience, I've used my Windows 8.1 product key to activate my Windows 10 that I made through the media tool.

  • Yeah "should" is the key word. Even microsoft.com/en-au/software-download/windows10 implies that during a clean install you can enter the product key (but they neglect to list genuine 7/8/8.1 as usable). Because of this vagueness, I've only ever created my bootable USB installer using the 1511 (build 10586.xxx) ISO which can still be downloaded from TechBench. As far as the RTM (build 10249) goes though you can't use 7/8/8.1 keys for activation at all unless you use the upgrade install or patch with 1511 soon after the install.
    – Reece
    Jul 28, 2016 at 2:51
  • There is no should. Windows 10 can be activated with a Windows 7 license until July 29th 2016.
    – Ramhound
    Jul 28, 2016 at 3:02
  • Not on the 10249 build. A clean install could only be activated after the system had been activated via the upgrade install first. I know this for fact as I spent many hours wasted trying to activate a clean install of 10249. The 10586 build meant that if you were going to a clean install straight away (onto a new drive or by reformatting your current OS drive), you wouldn't need to do an upgrade install first. You could input the Win7/8/8.1 key during setup, or skip and input it after the completed install and activate without issue (provided the key was genuine and for the same variant)
    – Reece
    Jul 28, 2016 at 3:17

I have just confirmed that the ISO downloaded with the Media Creation Tool is the now 1511 (build 10586) version of the Windows 10 installer by downloading a new ISO using the tool and checking the details of the boot.wim.

So clean installs will work with a 7/8/8.1 genuine product key without first doing an upgrade install.

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    I upvoted this question and answer. I used a Windows 7 key to activate 1511
    – user324747
    Sep 17, 2016 at 22:32
  • FYI - the current release of Anniversary Edition (build 10.0.14393) still activates Win 7/8/8.1 keys as of 19/9/2016 on a clean install for a system that has never been upgraded before. I'm not sure when M$ will actually block upgrade activations... but I hope it's no time soon.
    – Reece
    Sep 18, 2016 at 23:10

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