Can I transfer my Windows license key to a new PC?

License keys for Windows upgrades are expensive. Do they have an expiration date?

This is a question I often get asked by owners of older PCs running Windows 10 Pro. If you are replacing this PC with one that has Windows 11 Home preinstalled on it, can you use that old Windows 10 Pro key to upgrade the device to the Pro version of the OS?

Yes, but…

The short answer is: yes, this upgrade scenario should work. The longer answer has a few details you should know.

Technically, Windows 10 and Windows 11 product keys are interchangeable. Truth be told, even product keys for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8 Pro should work. This was already true when Windows 10 was released and my tests confirm that it is still the case today.

How do I upgrade?

To upgrade from Windows 11 Home to Windows 11 Pro, go to Settings > System > Activationthen click Upgrade your edition of Windows. This action will bring up the menu Change product key. Click on Editenter the product key, click a few more buttons, and after a reboot you should have a fully activated installation of Windows 11 Pro.

We could stop there, but that would be to miss important details. You can use an old product key to upgrade to Windows 11 Pro, but as the Windows license terms point out, “successful activation does not mean the software is authenticated or has a valid license.”

Is it legal?

Do you intend to continue using this version of Windows 10 Pro on the old PC where you originally installed it? If so, well… you’re technically in violation of the Microsoft license agreement which states that you may only install and use the software on one device at a time. This is it said between you and your conscience. On the other hand, if you have put this PC out of service, you can rest easy.

If you are a network administrator managing a Windows deployment in a large enterprise, I would recommend that you be extremely careful. If you use Windows 11 at home, on the other hand, don’t worry too much.

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Tarun Kumar

Tarun Kumar has worked in the News sector for 05 years and is currently the Owner and Editor of Then24. He reside in Delhi, India with his Family.

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