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I am looking at buying a business which has a fair number of 3rd gen i5 systems running Windows 7 Ultimate (general license, activated and not OEM). I am wanting to, as a 2 part process - upgrade the systems from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and then in the foreseeable future upgrade the systems (ie motherboard + CPU + RAM) to something more modern.

I am fairly sure I can upgrade the current systems from Windows 7 to Windows 10, but I am somewhat nervous / less confident about replacing the hardware and continuing to have a licensed Windows 10 system.

Questions -

  1. I'm unsure if the licenses are Generic Volume License keys or Retail license keys (its not an OEM license). Is it possible to do this upgrade with either type of key?

  2. If it is possible, would the process be along the lines of a regular Windows 10 upgrade on the old system, then, when the time is ready, I would uninstall the Windows 10 license (using a command like slmgr.vbs /upk) and then install on the new system with Windows 10?

  3. According to this link I may only be entitled to a 1 time transfer. Is this the case, and if so, is there any way I can see if that transfer has already been used?

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    Are you aware that the free Windows 10 upgrade offer ended 2 years ago? Retail licenses of Windows can be migrated to other hardware, however, the license granted by the offer cannot be migrated since the activation status is linked to the hardware. A VLK product key for an eligible version of Windows was not eligible for the free upgrade when it was offered. You are aware the "Window 10" key that you received is a generic key right? Your activation status is entirely digital, it technically cannot be transferred, transfer rights are only granted to the original eligile windows product key
    – Ramhound
    Nov 29, 2019 at 0:57
  • I was under the impression that the Windows 10 free upgrade offer went away in 2016 - but research has shown me it still works in Nov 2019. I don't know if all Windows keys are treated the same way - I would have assumed not. I a, of-course, aware that the activation status is entirely digital.
    – davidgo
    Nov 29, 2019 at 2:25
  • I will be submitting an answer shortly (got pulled away before I hit submit), yes, Windows 7 will upgrade to Windows 10, but the free offer has expired.
    – Ramhound
    Nov 29, 2019 at 3:12
  • is there a specific soure @Ramhound for how you know about transfer of activation? Or is that multiple sources?
    – Thufir
    Apr 18, 2020 at 11:16
  • @Thufir - My answer is 100% accurate; I don’t have my notes from 3 years ago
    – Ramhound
    Apr 18, 2020 at 15:30

2 Answers 2

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I am looking at buying a business that has a fair number of 3rd gen i5 systems running Windows 7 Ultimate (general license, activated and not OEM). I am wanting to, as a 2 part process - upgrade the systems from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and then in the foreseeable future upgrade the systems (ie motherboard + CPU + RAM) to something more modern.

Are you aware that the free Windows 10 upgrade offer ended 2 years ago? Retail licenses of Windows can be migrated to other hardware, however, the license granted by the offer cannot be migrated since the activation status is linked to the hardware.

As long as the license keys are a Retail, you can use them to install Windows 10, and you will end up with Windows 10 activated on the upgraded offer. However, Microsoft can at any point prevent that from working, since the upgrade offer has long expired.

Even if you were to upgrade today, there is no guaranteed method to transfer the granted Windows 10 digital entitlement, to the new hardware you wish to use in the future.

If you do want that guarantee, you should simply purchase, a Windows 10 retail license which will give you transfer rights. Technically speaking the license you were granted through the upgrade offer matched the same license you had, so a retail Windows 7 license, granted you a Windows 10 license. However, the free upgrade offer, was limited to the hardware it was granted to.

Sadly, Microsoft did not create any support article that specifically indicates any of this, all this information is from Microsoft support forum responses.

If it is possible, would the process be along the lines of a regular Windows 10 upgrade on the old system, then, when the time is ready, I would uninstall the Windows 10 license (using a command like slmgr.vbs /upk) and then install on the new system with Windows 10?

Why wouldn't you just install Windows 10 with the retail Windows 7? Once you have upgraded to Windows 10 the only key you would be uninstalling is the generic Windows 10 product key for the edition you had installed.

I'm unsure if the licenses are Generic Volume License keys or Retail license keys (it is not an OEM license). Is it possible to do this upgrade with either type of key?

A VLK product key for an eligible version of Windows was not eligible for the free upgrade when it was offered.

According to this link I may only be entitled to a 1-time transfer. Is this the case, and if so, is there any way I can see if that transfer has already been used?

Based on dozens of hours of research, I would not trust the article in question, because the license you receive cannot actually be transferred. The only exception I am aware of is a single case, where a user claims, they contacted Microsoft and was supplied an actual Windows 10 license. However, this was during the period of the time, where the free upgrade was being offered.

The article makes claims without a single reference to what the rules actually are. However, if you are going to get a new motherboard, then your retail Windows 7 license can be transferred to it. If that is indeed the case, then you can install Windows 10 with that license when prompted for a product key, and the end result is exactly where you want to be.

The license you are granted, when you perform the upgrade from an eligible version of Windows to Windows 10 is a digital entitlement. The activation status is linked to the hardware in question. The product key that is detected is a generic key, which is the same for every single user, entirely based on the edition of Windows that is installed.

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    I have numerous other answers which I have written that have additional information (and their sources) about the Windows 10 activation process surrounding the free upgrade. I will repeat, this answer only is applicable to consumer licenses, volume license keys have an entirely different set of activation rules. You would have to have a support contract to use the volume license keys, and if you did that, you would already have the right to use Windows 10 anyways.
    – Ramhound
    Nov 29, 2019 at 4:09
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  1. Windows 10 is still upgrading as of this date for free as long as W7 or W8 is activated, regardless of license type. Have done this twice this week W7 to W10 for free.

  2. Retail yes, any other type the license key is tied to the hardware for life

  3. This applies to Retail only, no way to see if it has been used or not, other than transferring to new hardware and see if it activates.

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