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Upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7 Ultimate, it worked but it went badly (installed on the wrong hard drive), so I restored backup, deleted an old Windows 7 config from the boot manager in msconfig, and deleted the old installation of Windows that it pointed to.

I then tried to upgrade again booting from a USB I created with the Media Creation Tool, and now it won't accept my Windows 7 Ultimate Key.

I understand that when the free version of Windows 10 installs, it gives you a key but doesn't tell you about it. Since I restored my backup, have I lost my key? Or is there a way to get it back?

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    You have to upgrade and activate Windows 10 successfully at least once before you can go directly to Windows 10 you have not done that. The Windows 10 installer has never and will never accept anything except Windows 10 license keys. "I understand that when the free version of Windows 10 installs, it gives you a key" - No it does not give you a key, at least not a unique key, everyone that accept the free upgrade receives the same generic key based on the version of Windows 10 they receive. Install Windows 7 and upgrade that to Windows 10. – Ramhound Sep 25 '15 at 14:22
  • But my key doesn't work. And if I upgrade it from Windows I get a different error, but that's a different question. – leeand00 Sep 25 '15 at 14:23
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    It isn't suppose to work. So there is no question there. You need to perform a fresh install of Windows 7 then upgrade that to Windows 10. – Ramhound Sep 25 '15 at 14:24
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    Windows 10 does not and has never accepted Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 license keys. You indicated it was not accepting your key, that is the case, because your not using a valid Windows 10 license key. – Ramhound Sep 25 '15 at 14:33
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    You need to read my very first comment. If you have not successfully upgrade and activated the Windows 10 installation, at least once on that machine, you cannot go directly to Windows 10. The generic key cannot be used to install Windows 10. – Ramhound Sep 25 '15 at 14:41
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You'll need to

  • reinstall a clean copy of W7,
  • make sure you install all the correct drivers, until there are no warnings in device manger

  • windows-update it all the way,

  • wait until you're prompted to upgrade to W10,
  • upgrade to W10
  • activate ASAP

From there on your Key is a W10 key and you may use it with a complete media/ISO of W10

  • "From there on your Key is a Windows 10 key " - No it isn't...Its still a Windows 7 license key. – Ramhound Sep 25 '15 at 14:33
  • "wait until you're prompted to upgrade to W10". I suspect you can wait more efficient by triggering this yourself. – Hennes Sep 25 '15 at 14:46
  • @Hennes - You can. Use the Media Creation Tool from within Windows 7 and select the equivalent of "upgrade now" – Ramhound Sep 25 '15 at 15:14
  • @Hennes sure... but it's funnier if you just wait – KarmaEDV Sep 25 '15 at 20:31

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