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Is there an inherent Microsoft-Exclusive way of obtaining Windows 10 Activation keys from existing installations? Even if this is not necessary with Windows 10 specifically, I want to emphasize my interest in non-3rd-party ways of getting such keys from prior versions of Windows too.

Unnecessary Background Info:

I've upgraded numerous workstation to Windows 10 from Windows 7 and Windows 8.

I want to reinstall Windows 10 from scratch on one of these workstation, but I don't want to have to install windows 7 (or 8) first.

Before doing this, I'd like to obtain the activation key from the current installation of Windows 10.

In the past, I've always resorted to using 3rd Party software to obtain keys, but have never liked doing so.

Is there an inherent Microsoft-Exclusive way of obtaining Windows 10 Activation keys from existing installations?

marked as duplicate by Ramhound, Tetsujin, Xavierjazz, fixer1234, Raystafarian Dec 8 '15 at 19:44

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Windows 10 activation is granted from a license server. The license is always linked to the machine (more precisely: the motherboard). When Windows 10 is activated once on a dedicated PC, a machine identifier is stored on the license server. When you install Windows 10 again on that machine, it will connect the license server, find a valid license, and activate itself.

I want to reinstall Windows 10 from scratch on one of these workstation, but I don't want to have to install windows 7 (or 8) first.

Just install Windows 10. Since the machine in question already has an activated copy of Windows 10, it will automatically activate after you reinstall. When asked for the product key you can either skip that step or provide the original license key from Windows 7 or Windows 8 that you used.

Is there an inherent Microsoft-Exclusive way of obtaining Windows 10 Activation keys from existing installations?

If you upgraded from a previous installation of Windows there isn't an activation key that can be extracted. Here is Microsoft's official stance on the subject though:

Activation in Windows 10

Activation helps verify that your copy of Windows is genuine and hasn’t been used on more devices than the Microsoft Software License Terms allow. Depending on how you got your copy of Windows 10, activation will use either a digital entitlement or a 25-character product key.

Digital entitlement is a new method of activation in Windows 10 that doesn't require you to enter a product key.

The article continues with the following notice:

Starting with the November update, Windows 10 (Version 1511) can be activated using some Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 product keys. For more info, see the section Activating Windows 10 (Version 1511 or higher) using a Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 product key in this topic.

The following applies to the question's described situation:

How you got Windows 10:

  1. You upgraded to Windows 10 for free from an eligible device running a genuine copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

  2. You upgraded to Windows 10 (Version 1511 or higher) and activated it using a Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 product key.

Activation Method:

  1. Digital license (called a digital entitlement in Windows 10 Version 1511) is a method of activation in Windows 10 that doesn't require you to enter a product key.
    • (A digital entitlement will be given to your device for Windows 10 based on the valid product key you entered)

Windows 10 Activation

What this basically means is that any machine that has ever had an activated Windows 10 installation on it, will automatically activated upon future installations of Windows 10, even if a product key is not provided upon the installation of Windows 10. If installing onto a formatted drive there is of course no way to get the "upgrade" digital entitlement, but a valid key from an older Windows license will work instead.

It is worth making it clear that, Windows users who accept the free Windows 10 license, are not granted their own unique Windows 10 product key.

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