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> The Win10 license is kept in the UEFI so you can reinstall from a Win10 ISO at any time and it will activate correctly.

Not if Windows 10 detected that you have "major" hardware changes. In which case, your new installation won't be activated (granted, Microsoft doesn't enforce activation on). You may need to extract the license key from UEFI and type it in manually to get activation to work. It's a hassle.




I got bit by these "major" hardware changes on a computer I'd passed on to my relatives. For whatever reason I had had the onboard Ethernet adapter disabled in BIOS when I upgraded from Windows 7 to 10, and enabling it prevented Windows from activating at all. (FWIW, it was not a laptop.)

Unlike in the past, when all you had to do was call in and recite your license key, these days their policy is to accept nothing else but a proof of purchase, which in my case was from almost 10 years prior. Luckily enough, I had it archived.


Yeah, the exact definition of "major" hardware change is kept as a secret by Microsoft so that it's not easy to defeat that activation mechanism for pirates.

The newer version (version 1511 and above) of Windows 10's digital licenses are essential a private key (as in asymmetric cryptography, called digital entitlement[1], stored in UEFI), as opposed to the a 25-character product key we used before. If for whatever reason the activation program cannot find that key, it won't be activated.

[1]: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/12440/windows-10-ac...

> which in my case was from almost 10 years prior. Luckily enough, I had it archived.

If you bought your Windows license online with a Gmail address, Google has you covered. https://myaccount.google.com/purchases




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