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Can you transfer a Windows 10 license to another PC?

If you have a computer you currently run Windows 10 on and build yourself another, can you transfer the Windows 10 license to your new computer? This is a question we were asked in the store the other day. As it wasn’t the first time we had heard it so we thought we would add a blog post to spread the word.

Windows 10 is expensive. It can run you over $100 if you cannot find a discounted version and that’s not an insignificant amount of money. So it makes sense that if you have a version running on one computer to transfer it to another.

You cannot build a computer and plug your old hard drive with your existing version of Windows 10 and expect it to work because it won’t. Therefore you have to install a fresh copy and transfer ownership to the new version.

Transferring a Windows license

Before Windows 10 came along, installing Windows onto a new computer meant either copying the code onto your new machine and everything was fine or copying the code and seeing ‘already registered’ errors and either having to call Microsoft or get help another way.

Windows 10 did away with old-style license codes. They could be easily circumvented and were not very secure. Windows 10 introduced digital licenses linked to your Microsoft account. There is still a code but it doesn’t work in the same way as before.

To transfer a Windows license you will need a copy of the license code if you bought the PC from a store. This will be with the paperwork or on a sticker somewhere on the computer. If you don’t have a key, we can work around that but it is better if you have one.

When you’re ready to go, do this:

  1. Type ‘cmd’ into the Windows Search box, right click Command Line window and select Open as Administrator.
  2. Type slmgr /upk’ and hit enter.

This command disables the Windows 10 key for that computer and should allow you to transfer it to your new computer. Now it’s time to use it.

You can either log into your new computer with your Microsoft account and the new version is picked up automatically or you may need to ‘encourage’ it along a bit. Try logging in first and only try the following if your copy isn’t authorized within 48 hours. Check Settings, System and About to see its status.

On your new PC:

  1. Open a CMD window as above.
  2. Type ‘slmgr /ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx’ and hit Enter. Where you see xxxxx-xxxxx, type in your Windows 10 code you found on the package, paperwork or sticker of your old computer.
  3. Type ‘slmgr /dlv’ and hit Enter.

You should see a popup window with a load of text. Look for License Status and hopefully you should see Licensed next to it. If you do see Licensed, you’re all done!

If you don’t see Licensed or don’t have a key, you need to do a little more work.

  1. Log into your new Windows computer using your existing Microsoft account.
  2. Open a CMD window as above.
  3. Type ‘slui 4’ and hit Enter.
  4. Select your region from the blue window that appears and hit Next.
  5. Call the toll-free number on the screen and use your phone keypad to enter the Installation ID on the screen.
  6. Type the Confirmation ID the system provides into the boxes on screen and select Enter confirmation ID.
  7. Select Activate Windows.

Now your version of Windows 10 should activate.