Windows 10 Pro: Upgrading hardware

Hi,
I have Windows 10 Pro upgraded by Microsoft from Windows 7 Ultimate. I had upgraded hardware prior to upgrading Windows 10 Pro, without any issues. Now I want to upgrade hardware again (M/B, RAM, CPU, SSD)
What possible problems can arise and how can I prepare for that?
VakilsDeveloperAsked:
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Thomas GrassiSystems AdministratorCommented:
Changing the mother board will require a fresh install
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Change the motherboard AND drive and almost for sure Windows 10 will ask to be re-activated. If all is compatible, it should work. I would DEFINITELY back up the machine first.

I added memory to a conversion but otherwise left it the same and it was a non-issue.
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VakilsDeveloperAuthor Commented:
Thanks. If it asks for license code what do I enter? Also, if it asks for Windows 10 Pro disc, will downloaded .iso image(burned to DVD) work? In short, how does re-activation process goes?
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Thomas GrassiSystems AdministratorCommented:
You will need to purchase a retail version or install windows 7 or. 8 then run upgrade

Can not install upgrade version of windows 10 as a fresh install
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Reactivation (if Windows 10 runs on the new motherboard) should be easy. Just follow the prompts.

If you have not already, make a Windows backup of your system from which to re-install. This should enable you to reinstall without a license key - the backup will do that.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Note to Tom: So long as you make a backup, you should be able to use it to reinstall and reactivate.

Yes, of course, it you use a downloaded Windows 10 ISO you will need to purchase.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Here is a guide for making a Windows 10 DVD that you can use to do a fresh install. Microsoft did recognize you might lose a hard drive after upgrading.

https://www.thurrott.com/windows/windows-10/4940/windows-10-tip-successfully-clean-install-windows-10
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
I'd be very interested to hear how this goes.

Windows 10 activation monitors hardware changes as this can rearm the activation process requiring you to re-enter a key.
As with earlier Windows versions different changes carry different weights but changing a motherboard is likely to trigger reactivation on its own as then you have a new computer in the old case.

What's poorly documented is that the free upgrade program is locked to a hardware fingerprint of your system based on the hardware present at the time of the upgrade to Windows 10.

This allows you to carry out a completely fresh reinstallation of Win10 on an machine whose operating system has been previously upgraded without needing an activation key.  

When Windows 10 activates  on a fresh install using installation media from the Media Creation Tool it checks the activation servers for a record of the hardware fingerprint.  An identical match will get activated automatically but if there's no match it will prompt for a license key - the system is "unlicensed".

What I'd expect to happen is following the motherboard change Win 10 will continue to run until its next scheduled online activation check and at that point realise it's no longer the same computer and prompt for activation.  You won't be able to activate because you don't have a valid key.  If you originally had an embedded hardware key this will have been removed when the motherboard was swapped.

Another scenario that's predicted for next year is that Free Win 10  installations continue to run but if you had made significant hardware changes since the upgrade activation you would not be able to carry out a clean reinstall without purchasing a new licence.

Depending on the licensing terms of the base Windows version you upgraded from (and whether or not you wanted to retain your data or simply change operating systems) I'd suggest you make your final set of hardware changes on the downgraded base system.  Run the Win10 free upgrade & get the new "improved" hardware fingerprint recognized  before the free upgrade program ends.

This process has it's own problems. If you're upgrading from a manufacturers "OEM" version of the base system and changing motherboards then in most of the world that in itself breaks the activation rules and your base system will become unlicensed - that unlicensed state will carry forward to the activated Windows 10 upgrade.

So yes, I predict activation problems, particularly with the motherboard change.  

You should not assume that because Microsoft have granted you a free Windows 10 licence that you can transfer it to what is technically a new machine (a new motherboard).
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McKnifeCommented:
A fellow admin already did this, he moved his ssd to a different machine, all hardware different. He could reactivate without a problem.
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Thanks McKnife, that's useful to know.  

Without wanting to go too far off-topic, do you know if they did a clean reinstall on the new machine (or had the new machine already been "fingerprinted" with a Win10 upgrade)?  That's where I think the real "Gotcha" maybe.  I'm hearing mixed stories but if it is the issue I suspect think Microsoft need to make this clearer before the free upgrade period expires.
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McKnifeCommented:
It was an upgrade installation. He said, he will do further testing (replaying an image of that windows to a different hard drive even, so that nothing remains the same), soon. Will keep you updated.
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VakilsDeveloperAuthor Commented:
Hi Guys,
Here's some info below to analyze:
1. Windows 7 installed using OEM System Builder Kit. Upgrade Install from XP
2. Bought Ultimate Key card from Amazon and upgraded it to Windows 7 Ultimate.
3. Upgraded hardware. Desktop 1 (Good thinking as this now my fastest machine)
4.  Upgraded old desktop with old hardware with cloned Windows 7 from Machine 1. This is Desktop 2.
5. Installed Windows 10 Preview on Desktop 2.
Windows 10 Released.
6. Installed upgrades on Desktop 1. Windows 10 upgrade icon appeared after some days.
7. Desktop 2 got Windows 10 Release. Upgraded to SSD drive. No issues.
8. Few days later Desktop 1 got notification  upgrade is ready and upgraded to Windows 10 Pro.
Bottomline: From one Windows 7 license, I got two Windows 10 Desktops. can you explain what happened?

The question above is now about upgrading hardware on Desktop 2. (Windows 10)
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
1. Windows 7 installed using OEM System Builder Kit. Upgrade Install from XP

System Builder OEM licenses are for use only on a new PC (as printed all over the DVD and pack).

If the machine had XP on it before then by definition it's not new so the license conditions aren't met  There are a few other OEM conditions that haven't been fulfilled here either but that's the biggest.

4.  Upgraded old desktop with old hardware with cloned Windows 7 from Machine 1. This is Desktop 2.

So made a copy of the machine with the activated Win 7 that isn't licensed or transferable and put it on another machine so there are two concurrent installs,

5. Installed Windows 10 Preview on Desktop 2.

Under the circumstances that's probably a wise move - otherwise eventually the two cloned System Builder Keys would have been flagged at Microsoft.

Win 10 TP only needed suitable hardware and an Insider Program Key to run - you could have installed it on a machine without any operating system at all as long as it met the minimum hardware requirements. The license for Win 10 TP was limited and the software has a fixed expiry date.

6. Installed upgrades on Desktop 1. Windows 10 upgrade icon appeared after some days.

Microsoft announced several months ago that the Win 10 Free Upgrade will install and activate on any qualifying operating system irrespective of its licensing state so an OEM system builder installed on old hardware or other installs that would normally fail activation and/or auditing tests and even pirated copies of Windows 7 or 8 would qualify for an upgrade.

7. Desktop 2 got Windows 10 Release. Upgraded to SSD drive. No issues.
All Insider Program Win 10 TPs activated prior to the retail release date for Win 10 are eligible for the free upgrade which removes the Trial system expiry period.

8. Few days later Desktop 1 got notification  upgrade is ready and upgraded to Windows 10 Pro.
Yep, that's Microsoft making good on the "upgrade any qualifying system" promise.

Bottomline: From one Windows 7 license, I got two Windows 10 Desktops. can you explain what happened?

Strictly you had two different licences.  The Win 10 Tech Preview carries its own license which is unrelated to any that was previously installed .  Your System Builder system is activated but the rules on using System Builder media were clearly broken so any system installed since XP (the Win 7 OEM and it's upgrade - even though you paid for both the OEM kit and the Key card) would fail any audit.

The issues with upgrading the hardware in your second machine are no different from your first.  The acid test will be future activation from a clean install as I described above.
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VakilsDeveloperAuthor Commented:
You all have given great incite, under the hood info for licensing. I will backup the system and install.
Will keep you posted. @McKnife, let me know how it went for your fellow admin.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Thanks and I was happy to help.
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