Depending on your Windows version and setup, reactivating Windows after a major hardware upgrade can range from effortless to impossible! Here’s what you need to know.
Plus: If Hibernate and/or Sleep power options are missing from your Win10 shutdown menu, here’s how to easily restore them.
The when and how of Windows activations
Reader Dan Jones wants to make a truly major change to his PC’s hardware, and he’s wondering how this will affect his ability to reactivate Windows.
Dan’s using Win7, but the information for Win8/10 is very similar. I’ll include more Win10-specific information at the end of this item.
- “I bought a copy of Win7 several years ago, and I now want to upgrade my mainboard and CPU. I recently read that [reactivating Windows after upgrading the hardware] might not be possible, since the key is tied to the type of CPU and the mother board. Is this really correct?
“Before I spend dollars on new hardware, I also want to know whether it’s possible to move my hard drive to a new machine and continue with life as usual. Or will I have to contact Microsoft?”
Although your upgrade is more sweeping than most, you’re not doing anything illicit. You should be able to reactivate Windows 7. There are, however, two potential gotchas — one rather small and one really large. Please read this item all the way to the end before doing anything.
Let’s start with the lesser problem. Upgrading the mainboard and CPU is a huge hardware change, and it’ll most likely make Windows’ automatic reactivation process balk. The reactivation system might assume that your copy of Windows has been improperly cloned to a different PC.