Last week, it was revealed that Microsoft has changed its policy regarding the activation of Windows 11 using Windows 7 or 8.1 retail product keys. However, what about Windows 10?
This is a valid question, as Microsoft only mentioned the closure of the product key loophole for Windows 11. There was no mention of Windows 10 in their confirmation, and the publication that received this confirmation from Microsoft failed to verify the information. If it was still possible to activate Windows 10 using a Windows 7/8.1 product key, then a loophole would still exist, allowing users to upgrade to Windows 11.
To investigate further, I conducted a test. I installed Windows 10 Pro in a Hyper-V virtual machine and performed all available cumulative updates through Windows Update. Additionally, I updated all the apps from the Microsoft Store for completeness. Using a collection of Windows 7 product keys that have worked in the past for activating Windows 10 and 11, I attempted the activation process using multiple keys.
At first, the initial step of the Activate Windows wizard showed promising results. In late September, when I tested these same keys on various versions of Windows 11, the activation failed immediately in the Canary build.
However, after proceeding to the next step, I encountered the familiar error message: “Unable to Activate Windows.” The product key I used was deemed invalid.
Based on this test, it is evident that the loophole has indeed been closed, and activating Windows 10 using Windows 7/8.1 product keys is no longer possible.