Microsoft is currently investigating a problem that prevents the activation of Windows 10 and Windows 11. The issue affects computers on which users have upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8 to the newer Windows versions free of charge. If you’ve subsequently replaced essential hardware components (such as the motherboard) on these computers, Microsoft may now suddenly deactivate its Windows 10 or Windows 11 license.
Some affected users have not even replaced hardware components, but only carried out a BIOS update for their motherboard. Even this seems to disable activation on computers that have been updated from Windows 7 or Windows 8 to Windows 10 or 11.
And even if you still have the original activation key from Windows 7 or Windows 8, which is of course legal and valid, affected users can no longer reactivate their legally updated Windows 10 or Windows 11 computers.
Microsoft support is now aware of the problem. The affected users have not done anything illegal; they were simply collateral damage from Microsoft’s decision in September 2023 that valid license keys for Windows 7 or Windows 8 no longer can be upgraded to Windows 10 or Windows 11. You can only upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 free of charge.
Microsoft is not yet offering a remedy, but a Windows product manager told The Verge they’re investigating the complaints. The only option currently available to affected users is to purchase Windows 11, even though their computers were running free, valid Windows 10 or 11 licenses until now. Ick.