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Windows 10 activation methods - overview

Discussion in 'Operating Systems' started by 386SX, May 17, 2018.

  1. 386SX

    386SX Master Guru

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    Hi all.

    This thread was made with the intention to collect all possible ways of activation of Windows 10. Everyone may contribute to it so over time this will grow more and more.

    DISCLAIMER:
    Please DO NOT post any method which is obviously illegal, like loaders or other hacks! This thread should stay clean and should NOT put ANY user in jail! Please keep that in mind before posting a method.


    What is this all about?:
    There are lots of ways and lots of different approaches to successfully and legally activate Windows 10. Some involve more work than others, some are probably unknown to one and may ease the work necessary for activation in the case you have to reinstall the OS. I will list all I know, even the most obvious ones.

    There is not much to say and this should be the easiest option to activate.
    You buy Windows 10, either as download or as DVD or USB and get a key.
    You insert the DVD/USB and do a fresh install, while installing you get asked for a key, which you have and enter.
    After the first boot WIndows will attempt to activate itself automatically and succeed.

    Note: On eBay and some other sites you get a Windows 10 key for some dollars / euros. Please keep in mind this "sticker" with the key (XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX) they mostly send is under no circumstances a COA (Certificate Of Authenticity = the license!) and therefore will NOT get you into a legal status when activating Windows 10 with it. You need the license to use the key.
    In addition some sellers try to sell you a MAK (= Multiple Activation Key), which is meant for companies and only available through Microsoft programs, where you have to pay for every month. Selling a "sub-license" out of this key is forbidden and therefore illegal. You may use a MAK if you are student or employed by the ones who own the key and license. Most offers state in the title "NO COA", so do not let them trick you.
    "NO COA" means NO LICENSE!

    That step is NOT possible anymore. After Windows 10 was released there was a timeframe where you could get Windows 10 for free. After that you could use the upgrade if your device uses "assistive technologies", but that ended with the end of last year. I do not have the upgrade app anymore. It would be interesting to hear if this is still possible if you have the EXE file on your harddisk. But there are other, cleaner ways to do this ...

    - Needed: You must be able to install and successfully activate either Win7 or 8 or 8.1. This only works when you clean install Windows 10 (= no upgrade)
    - Set up your "not Win10 OS" with all drivers so there are no more "!" visible in device manager and get it activated in which way you like (except KMS / MAK activation!)
    - Download an ISO of the Windows 10 version you like to use (1709, 1803, whatever)
    - Open the ISO with a tool of your choice (DaemonTools, Alcohol120%, WinRAR, 7-zip, etc.)
    - Go to folder SOURCES
    - Search for the file GATHEROSSTATE.EXE and copy it to your desktop (or anywhere else where you find it easily)
    - Run the file and wait some seconds. A new file will be created called GENUINETICKET.XML .
    - Copy this file to some >>secure<< location. This is your key for Windows 10 activation!!!
    - Now do all the stuff you want before installing Windows 10 (backups, save documents, etc.)
    - Disconnect your LAN cable (!!! This is a MUST !!!)
    - Install Windows 10 with the values of your choice. Keep in mind you have to choose the correct edition. Example: Windows 7 Home Premium upgrades to Windows 10, Windows 7 Professional and above upgrade to Windows 10 PRO. When asked for a key choose "I DO NOT HAVE ANY KEY." and proceed to install. Still no LAN!
    - After install is complete go through the initial setup where you select which spyware you want to have ( :) ), skip the network step! Still NO LAN! (So you have to create a local account first, even if you want to use a MS account later to save your license to your account!)
    After seeing the desktop for the first time, get your GENUINETICKET.XML from where you stored it before and COPY it (It is the key for Windows! Always keep a copy stored at a safe location for the case you need it again!) to:
    Code:
    C:\Programdata\Microsoft\Windows\Clipsvc\Genuineticket\
    (You need admin rights to do so!)
    - Reboot, still without LAN cable!
    - After the reboot is complete and you see the desktop again, wait a minute (to be sure) and THEN connect the LAN cable again.
    - Windows will see the XML and checks back with the MS servers. It will activate within the next few seconds or minutes.
    - DONE
    Note:
    This is legal, even though it is unusual. It is basically what a Windows Upgrade (like number 2 above) would do
    Note2: After you did that ONCE, you may reinstall Win10 with an active network connection and without inserting any key during setup. :)

    I was told it is possible to activate Windows 10, starting with version 1511 (Build 10586) by only putting in your Windows 7/8/8.1 key during setup. The editions matter, too. So owning a Windows 7 Home does not give you a Windows 10 Pro, but only a Windows 10 ("Home").
    Simply enter the key like you would install Windows 7/8/8.1 and continue the install normally. Windows will activate itself after the installation has finished.

    Like the option 1: Install, put key in, proceed, activated automatically.
    But where the hell did you get a MAK from? If you haven't got a written permission of some kind to use the licenses of your employer / university / else, you do not have the right to install and use Windows 10 with this key! And the one you got it from would be very dumb to hand out the MAK itself. Because MAK is needed for the "other side" of the next option ...

    Activation thorugh KMS (Key Management Service) is another option but available only for companies. Things you need to know:
    - IP address or DNS name of the KMS server
    - What version you are permitted to use ("Home", Pro, Enterprise, LTSB)
    - The correct KMS key from here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started/kmsclientkeys
    Steps:
    - Install Windows 10
    - When asked for the key put the correct one in (from the link to MS above!)
    - Continue install until desktop
    - Set your KMS to the correct one by running CMD as admin and type:
    Code:
    slmgr.vbs /skms IPADDRESS:PORT
    Example: slmgr.vbs /skms 192.168.0.50:1688
    - Run this afterwards:
    Code:
    slmgr.vbs /ato
    - DONE
    Note: You may create a script which does all steps necessary for you like this:
    Code:
    REM Installs the product key
    slmgr.vbs /ipk XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
    REM Sets the KMS to IP and PORT
    slmgr.vbs /skms IPADDRESS:PORT
    REM Activates Windows
    slmgr.vbs /ato
    
    The first line installs your product key. Change those XXXXX.... to your desired key.
    The second line sets the KMS server.
    The third line tries to activate the OS. If key and KMS are correct and the KMS has enough licenses on its MAK left, you will be activated. You put your MAK on your KMS, never ever directly into your OS!!

    This method does not get you a real license for Windows 10, it extends your trial period to 120 days in total. This is legal, even though originally meant for administrators with KMS issues. :)
    - Install Windows 10. The key doesn't really matter in this case, nor does the edition. But if you plan to activate it later with a real key, choose the right edition at setup. If you are just testing it does not mind and you may choose any edition you want.
    - After setup is complete, you get 30 days until you have to activate Windows.
    - On the 30st day (or if Windows bugs you after 30 days) open an administrative CMD and run this:
    Code:
    slmgr.vbs /rearm
    - Reboot one time
    - 30 days trial period left! :)
    - Do that each 30 days. it is possible to run this 3 times, so:
    30d -1rearm- 30d -2rearms- 30d -3rearms- 30d => you get 4 times 30 days (= 120 days in total) to evaluate Windows 10.
    Note: You may put this line of code in a batch script and setup a task in task scheduler to run this script every 30 days.

    This method may be used if your activation breaks after a hardware change. It is basically a license transfer. Therefore you have to own a digital license for this device on your Microsoft account already.

    - Press WIN + I to open the settings, then navigate to "Update&Security", then "Activation".
    - Click on "Troubleshoot", then on "I changed my hardware recently"
    - Log into your Microsoft account with the license you want to re-activate
    - (OPT) If you didn't use your MS account before, you have to enter the password of the >local< account now
    - Now select the device you want to activate & check "This is the device I am using right now.", then continue
    - If you previously stored your license in this account and the device still is the same (NO exchange between say Microsoft Surface and a desktop computer!) activation will succeed.

    Note:
    If activation still fails, it could have a lot of reasons, for example: Win10 was never activated on this device / Re-activation limit reached (there is a limit, I don't know how much yet) / the edition doesn't match with the license (Pro or Home or else?) / the edition is some business edition (example: Enterprise or Education or LTSB), those won't re-activate / etc.

    !! TRY METHOD 3 IF THAT HAPPENS FOR A >>RETAIL<< VERSION!!

    That's all what I can think of right now. If you have any other options (LEGAL, sure), please list them below and I will include them shortly after. Please keep in mind I am not online every day, so it could take some days until I respond.

    To see how many people find this useful AND to keep the thread organised please only click LIKE if it is useful and do not post something like "thanks" or "helped" or anything. Posts should be created if you have some additions (or probably questions or corrections) to this thread. Thank you in advance for respecting this.

    P.S.: I almost forgot: If you know anything "bad" like the eBay sellers who sell keys without license, please add that, too. It will help others to not fall for this. Thank you! :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2018
    mbk1969 and schmidtbag like this.
  2. 386SX

    386SX Master Guru

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    Guide updated with:

    Ensure drivers are installed before running GATHEROSSTATE.EXE, otherwise the XML created will not include all hardware and activation will fail sometimes. By installing all drivers before running the EXE this can be prevented.

    Added method (8) to re-activate Win10 after a hardware change

    Guide re-formatted
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
  3. gerardfraser

    gerardfraser Ancient Guru

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    Thanks for sharing,I have activated a few copies of Windows 10 ,but #8 does not work all the time and you may have to call Microsoft due to amount of hardware changed.
    Of course you know this I was just saying in case someone has problems,it may help a little.
     
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  4. devastator

    devastator Member Guru

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    i had this prob when my x370 broad stop working upgraded to x470 and couldnt activate window 10 think in the end i put in wrong letter on my 25letter code lool
     
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  5. 386SX

    386SX Master Guru

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    If you have a retail code (Win10 bought online or in a store with a serial number and COA you are able to enter it at setup like usual.
    If you didn't reinstall Windows after the hardware change (I guess so), it may be "too immense" for Win10 to keep its activation. You could solve this in a lot of different ways:

    a) As stated before do a reinstall. This is the cleanest way to solve this, but at the same time the most time consuming one.
    b) I can think of phone activation, because your key is valid, this shouldn't be an issue.
    c) (only valid when you saved activation in your MS account) You may do the steps from number (8) (React. after HW change) to get activated again.

    I hope this solves your issue. If you encounter any error message, please specify, probably I may be able to help you. :)

    Hi and thx for your contribution. Yes, number (8) is not infinitely available, that's true. I think you can re-activtae about 5 or 10 times max. and then the key gets "listed somewhere". I am not sure about where and how and how long, but it happens because the license model which applies to you is made for private individuals (you are one, right?), and MS considers that those do NOT reinstall Windows 10 every few days and do NOT change their hardware every few weeks. TBH I do not know any case (except some hardware reviewers or testers like HH) who would NEED such a feature.

    So may I honestly ask you about why you change your hardware so often? This isn't meant as an insult, but I am honestly interested in the cause. And could you please specify what kind of key you use? Retail? OEM? MAK? "Free Win10 upgrade" ones? Win7/8/8.1 key? Or any other digital entitlement / license?
     
  6. Barry J

    Barry J Ancient Guru

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    I have Just changed my mainboard, CPU and ram and then did a clean install I had to put windows 8 license in to activate the clean install of Windows10 pro did not work just using my windows email. Was a really easy process.
     
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  7. gerardfraser

    gerardfraser Ancient Guru

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    I have no problems answering any questions about Windows at all.Over the years I have called and had to reactivate windows keys from XP to Windows 10 and always had an easy time doing this.

    OK the computer I am using right now and had to call Microsoft in the last month to get Windows 10 reactivated.

    The key was Retail Windows 8 Pro Product key:Which I upgraded and associated with one of my Microsoft accounts to Windows 10 Pro.
    I may have used the key more than 10 times installing Windows since Invoice date: 10/31/2012

    Hardware change since June 2018-had to call Microsoft to reactivate
    New CPU
    New Motherboard
    New Ram

    Since reactivating the key added
    New Monitor
    New M2 SSD
    Add Second GPU for SLI
    Removed Second GPU
    Reinstalled Windows 10 from USB key 5 separate times on different combinations of Raid configurations

    Another Computer with 100% Genuine Windows 7 Ultimate With Service Pack 1 Activation Key which I bought from window7keys 2012-Sep-03 ,with many installs for that key also.

    Hardware change since June 2018
    New CPU
    New Motherboard
    New Ram
    New GPU
    Reinstalled Windows 10 from USB key.

    I could go on I suppose but you should get the Idea.One other thing I change out GPU's weekly for different reason but never had to call Microsoft for GPU installs.Hope that makes some sense.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
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  8. 386SX

    386SX Master Guru

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    To make it clear:



    Some KMS activator will give you an illegal activation status, because you do not own a valid license to use the product, you bypassed the activation procedure. This is your first post on this forum, and with that you encourage others to do illegal activities.

    I reported your post to be deleted to keep this thread free from illegal stuff. There are other forums for stuff like that.
     

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