My laptop has Windows 10 Pro retail license. I wish to retain this license for myself and not give it away with the device. I will be doing a full reset and data wipe (of course). But I want to know how I can hold on to my license. What extra steps will I need to take?

Clarification edits:

  1. It did not come with Windows. It came with DOS installed. For this reason, there is no license key baked into the BIOS.
  2. It is not UEFI at its current configuration. It does support UEFI, though, if one is willing to go through the complete format and reinstall process.
  3. I am using a retail Windows 10 Pro license which I bought separately
  • 2
    If it is an OEM license you cannot hold on to it, it goes with the hardware.
    – Moab
    Sep 7, 2018 at 14:08
  • " It is not UEFI at its current configuration." It is either UEFI (and can do UEFI and UEFI in fall back mode), or BIOS. You cannot switch between those without flashing a new firmware. So I guess it is UEFI with CSM (compatability shims) enabled.
    – Hennes
    Sep 8, 2018 at 10:27
  • As you have a full retail copy of Windows 10, you can transfer it as many times as you want. Try to refer to:groovypost.com/howto/transfer-windows-10-license-new-pc
    – Joy
    Sep 28, 2018 at 9:44
  • @joy thank you. That is the answer I was looking for. If you submit that as a full answer, I can mark it as accepted. As per the rules, you will have to give the detailed steps in case the link dies in the future. Oct 1, 2018 at 17:40

2 Answers 2


My laptop has Windows 10 Pro retail license. I wish to retain this license for myself and not give it away with the device.

Windows 10 Professional licenses can be transferred to another machine.

I will be doing a full reset and data wipe (of course).

Since we are dealing with a laptop, the device was sold by an OEM, which means it came with an operating system. You should install that operating system. If you only perform a Reset, which is a feature of Windows 10, the machine will continue to use your retail Windows 10 license.

Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 licenses installed on OEM hardware, are stored in the ACPI table, and cannot be transferred to another device. They are NOT stored in the UEFI, while ACPI and UEFI are connected, they are entirely different specifications.

In order to transfer a retail license, in the past, you would have to call the Microsoft Activation Center and provide a response code to the challenge code unique to your computer. This came with certain limitations, and it didn't always work, so there was a good chance you had to explain you were migrating your license to a human. Recently with Windows 10, Microsoft has made it extremely easy and provided a method to perform that same task within Windows 10. This only applies to the most recent feature updates of Windows 10.

What extra steps will I need to take?

I would enable BitLocker, encrypt the entire device, then delete your personal files. While still encrypted I would boot to the installation device of the operating system that came with the device, and delete all partitions. I would then install the operating system, allow it to create new partitions, which will prevent anyone from ever accessing any of your personal files.

Short of this, your files can be recovered without much effort, if you use the Reset feature within Windows 10, you would mistakenly be giving up your retail Windows 10 license.

  • @PawelDebski - I indicated in my answer the license can be transferred, which of course, would involve activating the license key on another machine. What are you trying to ask would work? What you describe is my exact suggestion, which I have confirmed will work, because retail licenses can be transfered.
    – Ramhound
    Sep 7, 2018 at 18:35
  • In my case, the laptop came with DOS. I installed my retail windows 10 pro after I bought it. Is there no easy way to dissociate my license so that when the new user starts it up, they have to put their own license key to activate it? Sep 8, 2018 at 10:04
  • @AnishMajumder You can use the generic Windows 10 Professional license, by not entering a license, but just sell the device without an operating system.
    – Ramhound
    Sep 8, 2018 at 16:52


  1. Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 retail licenses that were upgraded to Windows 10 can be transferred, but only once.
  2. Windows 10 licenses that came preinstalled on your device cannot be transferred. No exceptions. There are hacky methods that might work, but those are not Microsoft endorsed and may be illegal. YMMV
  3. Retail licenses of Windows 10 can be transferred as many times as needed

The process:

  • Uninstall the product key
  • Reinstall the product key in your new machine

Uninstall product key:

  • Open an admin Command Prompt or PowerShell (Windows key + X, then choose the required option)
  • Enter command slmgr.vbs /upk. This uninstalls the product key from your current machine You can now format the machine to be sold. Remember to use the longer format option available. There would be multiple tutorials to take you through the dos and don'ts of that process.

Reinstall the key in the new machine:

I'll be going from the easiest to progressively difficult scenarios to the best of my knowledge.

If you have a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 license that was upgraded, do not enter it in any of the steps during the installation or initial setup. However, make sure to choose the correct Windows 10 version matching your license.
You can enter your key during the installation process if it is a Windows 10 key. You may also follow the same steps as for the Windows 7 keys.
Once installed, log in to your Microsoft account that you had used in the previous device. If you are lucky, your license might be linked to your account and would be transferred to your new device. No further steps are needed. If not, read on.
For Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 key, click Start > Settings > Update & security > Activation > Change the product key. Enter your Windows 7 or Windows 8.0/8.1 product key then click Next to activate.
For a Windows 10 key entered during installation, click Start > Settings > Update & security > Activation and initiate the activation process.
If it gets activated, you're fine. No further steps needed. If not, read on.
At this point, you might need to activate over the phone or chat as the license was transferred from another device. Press Windows key + R to open the Run dialog then type: slui.exe 4 then hit Enter on your keyboard. The phone activation interface will open and ask you to choose the country you are in. Follow the steps and prompts to activate.

Reference: https://www.groovypost.com/howto/transfer-windows-10-license-new-pc/

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