Preserving Win7 after installing Win10


I have a Win7 ultimate system.

I want to clone Win7 to a separate disk and then install the free Win10 on the original Win7 disk.  I then hope I have the possibility to boot my original Win7 system as an alternative.   Will there be a license problem?  Is the Win10 system given a new product key and the original Win7 product key will be inactivated by Microsoft.

In that case do I have to buy a new license for the Win7 system or do I have to buy a new license for the Win10 system and then have the original Win7 product key reactivated by Microsoft.  

Can I run both systems alternatively on the same hardware during a 30 days period before the product key is due to be activated?
How do I proceed?

Best regards
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Clone disk, do not connect it to the PC unless you're gonna use it.
Each time you use either Win10 or Win7, disconnect the SATA cable, and connect it to the other disk.

You are incorrect about deactivating keys. The Win7 is activated and will always be activated. There's no de-activation going on (unless you're going to change the motherboard or something).

While it technically works, I'm not totally sure if this setup (even with physically disconnecting the disks every time you switch) is allowed under the EULA. Therefore, proceed at your own risk.
Yes, you'll have a license issues, as once you have upgraded from an older OS you shouldn't use it anymore.

The Windows 10 Upgrade saves a backup of Windows 7, and during a duration of one month you can restore your system back to Windows 7. After that you can't go back.

So if you want to use both OS's you will need either another Windows 7 license, or buy an official version of Windows 10 rather than the upgrade.
Norm DickinsonGuruCommented:
I believe that the downgrade rights would cover the use you described here in that you would be using the exact same PC in either case - and only one OS at a time, and for only one user. It's not really any different from having a hard drive crash and deciding which OS to put back onto the new hard drive - every time you do it. You should not have any problems with activation. Even if you do swap some parts, simply proceed thru the phone activation system, making sure to tell the automated system that there is only one PC that this number has been installed on. If you ever get rejected, talk to one of the specialists at Microsoft activation support, who will understand and reset your activation count for the particular key you are trying to use.

Understand that this is different than the dual-boot mode you mention - you would have a different physical disk that would be connected to boot to the second operating system as pointed out by Kimputer above.

See and
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He isn't downgrading, but rather upgrading. So once you have chosen to upgrade and the month has passed during which you can revert back to the old, The license for that old OS gets invalid. You only get downgrade rights if you start from the newer OS to begin with, and not when that was an upgrade.
Norm DickinsonGuruCommented:
Then what it boils down to in this case, as Rindi correctly points out, is that there is a technicality preventing the above advice from being completely beyond scrutiny when it comes to an actual, real-life software audit if the Windows 7 operating system is the active one at the time of the audit. I believe it would be a thin premise for Microsoft to prosecute or obtain any kind of judgment in their favor, however, as it is really more of a backup approach than an OS installation. You simply have a full, live copy of your Windows 7 PC on the original hard drive that you can swap back in if you want to. It will not deactivate itself and will work fine. You will also have a full, upgraded version of Windows 10 that was created from this same Windows 7 system that the backup was made of. There is no rule against retaining backups for as long as you would like, and testing them as often as necessary. This is a minor point that would only be relevant in a business environment with multiple computers using this method. I do not believe Microsoft will come to get you if you do this kind of operation at home on your own PC. If you are a Fortune 500 company with thousands of installations, this would be more of an issue to pay attention to. Your question was phrased in a way to make it appear to be one computer in a "just in case" scenario - which really just amounts to a full backup of your system. In my opinion.

(Also as a note to Rindi, I wrote my first comment prior to seeing your comment about the license - I was replying to the earlier comment by a different expert, not trying to form a rebuttal to your advice.)
I'm not so sure whether the old OS would stay activated after the grace period of 30 days  during which you can go back to the old OS. Theoretically it is possible that m$ will make it inactive, but it is too early to say whether that will happen as currently Windows 10 is still too new, but maybe in a couple of days it may become known when it has been available for over 30 days...

Windows 7, even when not activated, still runs though, but it automatically shuts down periodically, and it may be difficult to use Windows updates. So at least for some time it can still be used, just with reduced functionality.
Norm DickinsonGuruCommented:
I don't believe that Microsoft has any deactivation technology in use that works based upon a date or time since last boot. I can't imagine it not working fine as long as the clone was made prior to the Windows 10 upgrade. I can easily see them putting in a poison pill at that stage, however. I have had computers offline - in fact, hard drives on a shelf with an OS installed - for years. They still run just like they did when I shut them off. Of course, I don't use those for anything that requires the least bit of  security. Running without updates is a poor practice.

As for enforcement, I doubt that this scenario would be detected unless it was pointed out or documented someplace else. Otherwise what you will have is one computer running an operating system that was legally installed on that computer with the correct numbers for when it was installed.  It just seems unenforceable, although they can clearly articulate it in their EULA.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
It's a good question.

Up until 8.1 the answer was a pretty clear cut - if you're upgrading your system then the licence from the base system that you are upgrading from becomes assimilated into the newer version.  The wording which you can find easily through your favorite search engine was:

The software covered by this agreement is an upgrade to your existing operating system software, so the upgrade replaces the original software that you are upgrading. You do not retain any rights to the original software after you have upgraded and you may not continue to use it or transfer it in any way.

Not especially open to interpretation goodbye old operating system licence, hello new operating system.  Retain your old Key for audit purposes but don't use it because the licence it relates to has been transferred.

Skip forward to Windows 10 and the introduction of a new End User Agreement replacing the old EULA's that forums loved to pontificate over.

For Operating Systems there's the generic MICROSOFT SOFTWARE LICENSE TERMS - WINDOWS OPERATING SYSTEM  Fewer words and also less detail (and especially less on what happens when you upgrade).

A whole section on downgrades though!

I think the clues are in Sections 4 & 5 and understanding how Win 10 upgrade activation works.

When you apply the Win 10 upgrade by launching it within a running Win 7 or 8.x session Win 10 captures a whole pile of "anonymised" information about your device including activation status and Product ID and Product Key.  Together with a hardware fingerprint of your system this is stored on the Activation server.  This means once you have successfully upgraded your system you can then nuke & install fresh and the Windows Activation server will find your hardware print and activate on the same system online.

So we know Microsoft can track your Win 7 Product Key and its use to upgrade to Windows 10.  We also know that with previous operating systems multiple activations using the same key could be flagged for manual activation only - so you had to talk to a real person to explain why you'd installed Windows three times in over the weekend on three different hardware configurations.

What we don't know yet are Microsoft's intentions on how they use that information.  If they decide to use their previous definition of operating system upgrade then your key can be remotely deactivated and existing tools such as WGA already are used for this when corporate keys are leaked as Warez.

Your question is therefore much more around the difference between what you can do and what you're allowed to do.  I'd certainly be wary of using an upgraded system's old key to install the base system elsewhere on a production machine but that doesn't mean it won't work.

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proman562002Author Commented:

I have been busy the last days with installing Win10 and a lot of other things.

I thank everybody very much for all interesting comments.  I have now Win7 and Win10 on 2 separate disks.  The first I noticed were that the Win10 system has been assigned new product Id and product key.  I first connected both disks to the system and tried to chose boot disk with the BIOS menu (F8).  CHKDSK started automatically and checked the disks and  the Win10 disk became unusable.  It booted but hanged early in the startup procedure.  Kimputer pointed out that I should not connect both disk simultaneously to the system.  Maybe he had a point there and eventually he can explain why this happened. I had to make a new Win10 disk.

It works fine if I connect (SATA) one disk at a time to the system.  I have not got any indication about the license situation yet.   Maybe within 30 days.

I have now tested Win10 for a few hours and I don´t like it so far.  The most aggravating point is that my 2 other disks are not recognized by Win10.  They can be found in BIOS and in the Win7 system.  This means that I have to fallback to my Win7 system in my daily work.  There are also a lot of other annoying things.  The login window is a mess. I can hardly enter my password.  On a lot of places text is overlapping each other.  Windows update has disappeared from Control panel an is moved to Settings and it is not clear how to interpret the choices. The layout is miserable.

Due to the install procedure with Windows update I have no install DVD for Win10 and this is necessary to have sometimes.  Is it possible to produce such a DVD with some program  within Win10.

Comments are welcome.
The Windows 10 media creator allows you to download the iso file which you then can burn to a DVD or put on a USB stick (using the WinsetupFromUSB tool). Just make sure when you start the media creator tool that you select the correct version of Windows 10 that corresponds to what you have installed now. When you boot the PC using that USB stick or DVD it'll do a clean installation of Windows 10, that may fix some of the issues you are having now. You won't need a product key during the installation, although it will ask you to enter one, you can skip that step (sometimes you might be asked more than once, just skip it). Once the OS is installed and the PC connected to the internet it will automatically check it's registration with m$ and activate.
Norm DickinsonGuruCommented:
Microsoft has a history of coming out with "not-quite-ready" operating system releases, and this is what I have come to expect from them. There will be updates, hot fixes, security patches, and other repairs. It will progress into a usable system with some neat new features and some areas that could have been done differently. Keeping that clean copy of Windows 7 was the best thing you could have done - and you will not see any license issues with it at all unless you change the hardware in that system. Swap out the motherboard or video card? You may need to activate your Windows and other Microsoft software again, which may fail or prove difficult. Keep it like it is, and it will run for years. And please remember to assign points to the answers you feel were helpful. We run on points here at, and they are free to assign. See for details on how the system works. Thanks for the feedback, and good luck!

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proman562002Author Commented:
An interesting discussion but no final solution
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