Assuming someone wants to release/liberate their Windows product key from a pc that they are going to sale, what is the right way to do it, so that the key can be used on the next system that is bought?

I did some product key changes a few years back, but I'm not sure if that's the right way to do it, or if there's something else that needs to or should be done.

If possible, mention if the same approach will work for Windows 8.


  • Just stop using it. You can then activate it on another computer. WGA won’t complain provided that you don’t use it on more than one computer at once. – kinokijuf Aug 24 '12 at 15:53
  • @kinokijuf, that will work fine if you're not worried about software licensing. However, it would not be within Microsoft's licensing agreement to do such a thing. – kobaltz Aug 24 '12 at 15:55
  • Transferring a license is fine; using one Windows on two PCs isn’t. So, you can only install on another PC if you stop using on the first one. – kinokijuf Aug 24 '12 at 15:58
  • @kobaltz - Prove that its not within the Windows 7 License to transfer your license to another computer because I promise you unless its an OEM license you can do exactly that. – Ramhound Aug 24 '12 at 16:16
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    @kobaltz - You don't provide proof....Besides its common knowlege that an OEM Windows license cannot be migrated to another computer. – Ramhound Aug 24 '12 at 16:59

Open admin command prompt, type slmgr -rearm. This will set the PC into trial mode.

Remember that you might have to phone MS and register your new PC since the key will be tied to the GUID of your old PC.

Edit: As pointed out, you can also use slmgr -upk to uninstall the product key if you wish.

  • 1
    Thanks Taylor. I just checked the flags for the slmgr program and there's also the /upk flag, which uninstalls the product key. The slmgr executable was what I used a couple of years back when doing some product key switching. – silverCORE Aug 25 '12 at 15:41
  • Upvoted you for correcting syntax, will update answer to reflect for future users. – Taylor Gibb Aug 27 '12 at 18:20

Before selling a computer, you should wipe it using a tool such as DBAN (Darik's Boot and Nuke) or similar. If you're not selling it with software, leave it as-is after the wipe.

There is no way to "release" a key from a computer. You get a certain number of registrations, and then you have to call Microsoft and have them get you an activation code over the phone each time you activate the key again.

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    Thanks for the DBAN tip music2myear, will certainly check this out. But, there is indeed a way to release the product key from the windows installation; Taylor Gibb's answer was what I was looking for. – silverCORE Aug 25 '12 at 15:42

Keep in mind that if it is an OEM License then it cannot be transferred to a new computer.

However, if it is a NEW or Upgrade license, then you will as Music2MyEar mention wipe the computer. You would not want any private data on the computer when selling it. You can reinstall Windows on the computer without any product key (if using Vista/7). This will allow the new owner to purchase the same copy of Windows that you had installed (ie Home Premium) and then enter the license key of their newly purchased version of Windows. This way, you protect yourself by wiping the data, and release any software license violations from the new owner.

  • Thanks for pointing the OEM transferring limitation kobaltz. There is indeed a way to release the product key from the windows installation, it was on Taylor Gibb's answer. I do believe that just "not using that windows installation anymore" would work, but that's just because Microsoft has to support that scenario since most users are not knowledgeable of how to properly dispose of a computer. What I wonder is, if by uninstalling the product key using slmgr, the activation numbers are not limited. – silverCORE Aug 25 '12 at 15:44

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