Updating your computer is fun. There is nothing better than unwrapping a box and taking a sip of the scent of a new computer. The next thing to do is set up your new computer, and transferring your Windows 10 license to your new computer is an important part of this process.
So, here’s how to transfer your Windows 10 license to a new computer.
Can you transfer a Windows 10 license to a new computer?
Transferring your Windows 10 license to a new computer is a great idea. In the end, it lowers the cost of your new computer if you don’t need a new license. However, portability depends on the type of Windows 10 license you are using.
There are three main types of Windows 10 licenses:
- OEM: OEM licenses are preinstalled on the hardware you purchase and are tied to the device’s motherboard.
- Retail: You you purchase a retail license online and can transfer the license between different computers.
- Scope: Microsoft grants bulk licenses to large organizations such as businesses, universities or governments and allows a single license key to activate multiple installations.
Windows 10 licenses are tied to system hardware. Specifically the motherboard. If you try to transfer an OEM or Windows Volume License to a new computer (for example, with a different motherboard), the Windows License Checker will reject the new hardware.
In the meantime, if you have a retail Windows 10 license, you can switch to another computer with a different motherboard.
It is also important to understand that you can upgrade your hard drive with an OEM license or a volume license. Replacing a hard drive with a larger or faster replacement is completely normal under the Windows 10 licensing rules.
Also, there are examples of users upgrading their motherboard and continuing to use their OEM license, which is a bit confusing (read more on this!)
How to check your type of Windows 10 license
Most likely you have an OEM or retail license for Windows 10. Before attempting to transfer your Windows 10 license to another computer, check to see if this is possible.
Enter Command Prompt in the Start menu search bar and open the Command Prompt application. Now enter the following command:
Wait a moment until the Windows Script Host window appears. Next to the description, you will see the Windows 10 license type. It will clearly indicate whether your license type is retail, OEM, or corporate.
There are two ways to transfer your Windows 10 license to a new computer: enter your product key or use a Microsoft account.
How to transfer a Windows license with your Microsoft account
You can link your Windows 10 license to your Microsoft account. Once you link your license to your Microsoft account, you won’t need to re-enter your product key after reinstalling Windows. Instead, you sign into your Microsoft account on a fresh installation of Windows 10, and it automatically checks your license.
To see if your Windows 10 license and Microsoft account are linked, press Windows Key + I, go to System> About, then select Change product key or update your version of Windows.
If you see the same message as in the picture above, your account and license are linked. This means that you can sign in to your Microsoft account on your new computer and verify the license without entering a product key.
How to link Windows 10 license and Microsoft account
If you don’t see this message, you can follow these steps to link your account Press Windows Key + I, then go to Updates & Security> Activation. In the “Add Microsoft Account” section, select “Add Account”.
Sign in to your Microsoft account using your email address and password. You will then need to sign in to Windows using your Microsoft account credentials (although you can switch back to your local account after transferring the license).
Once signed in, Microsoft will link your Windows 10 license and your Microsoft account. Click “Finish” and you will now see a message confirming the link.
Complete the Windows License Transfer
After confirming your license and linking to your account, you can sign in to your Microsoft account on your new computer. Microsoft will verify the license through your account and the transfer is complete.
Link Microsoft Account with OEM License
Although your Windows 10 OEM license is bundled with the motherboard as a single hardware, you can try to transfer your Windows license using the above method. The process is the same, except that you may receive the following error message:
Select Troubleshoot at the bottom of the page and then I recently changed hardware on this device. Next, you will need to sign in to your Microsoft account and specify the device you are using.
Please note that this may not work for every Windows 10 OEM license as Microsoft is making it clear that you can only use the OEM license for one installation. This license transfer works primarily when you move your hard drive or solid state drive to a new computer with an unchanged Windows installation rather than a fresh Windows 10 installation.
How to transfer a Windows license with a product key
The second option is a tried and tested option. You have a Windows 10 product license key purchased online. There are two points where you can enter your Windows 10 product key, the first of which is during the Windows 10 setup process:
Alternatively, you can wait for the Windows 10 installation to complete and then enter your key in the settings panel. Press Windows Key + I, then go to Updates & Security> Activation, then enter your product key.
Enter your Windows 10 product key, then click Next and follow the instructions on the screen.
Transfer Your Windows 10 License
You have seen two main methods for transferring a Windows 10 license to a new computer. Plus, you now know the difference between Windows 10 license types and why some licenses don’t work when you try to switch them to new hardware.
If you’ve opted for a clean install of Windows 10, be sure to check out How to Create a Windows 10 Install USB Drive