I support 60 Windows 7 Pro laptops. I want to upgrade them all to Win 10 Pro. The problem is when a laptop comes in from the field and needs to be re-imaged. So before we mass upgraded, I ran a few tests.
· When an activated Windows 8.1 Pro or Windows 7 Pro laptop is upgraded to Windows 10 Pro, the upgraded copy of Windows 10 is activated and the motherboard is logged by MSFT;
· Therefore whenever that computer breaks, we can re-image the hard drive with our Windows 10 configuration, and the MSFT database then activates that image based on the motherboard. We do not have to keep or track license keys.
· I upgraded a Windows 8.1 Pro to Windows 10 Pro;
· I verified that the now upgraded copy of Windows 10 Pro was activated in System (therefore it should be in MSFT’s database and it doesn’t matter what happens to the hard drive. Any copy of Windows 10 Pro applied to this laptop should auto-activate forever);
· I then imaged this laptop with our Windows 10 Pro configuration to the laptop;
· I verified internet connection and waited for auto-activate to occur;
· It did not auto-activate;
· I clicked on the Activate options and the only choices were to input a new license key;
· I confirmed the laptop was connected to the internet, and left it on all night;
· The imaged copy of Windows 10 Pro did not activate.
Based on this experiment, if we upgrade all of our laptops to Windows 10 Pro, and any of them has a failure and must be re-imaged, then none of them will auto-activate. It appears we need Windows 10 Pro license keys to make this work. Our understanding was that we didn’t need license keys anymore and that the upgraded Win 10 was linked to the motherboard.
Can you help me understand how MSFT licensing works so that we can upgrade these laptops, and then when failures occur, have activated copies of Windows 10 Pro using a stored image?
footnote: we use Acronis to create a master image. We have done this with Win XP, with Win 7, and with win 8.1. whenever a failed laptop comes in, we just re-image it with Acronis, then put in the license key. According to MSFT, this is no longer necessary, and MSFT keeps a record of activated Win10 copies by associating a token with the serial number of the mother board.