Windows 10 Upgrade Information for Accountants

Here is a little bit of information that I have learned over the past week or so in regards to installing Windows 10:

First off, if you upgrade from Win 7 (SP1 required) or Win 8 (8.1 update required), your product key is now tied to your hardware, and not to any Microsoft account. After you upgrade, your system will be assigned one of two generic product keys. If you installed the Home version (32- or 64-bit), the product key will be TX9XD-98N7V-6WMQ6-BX7FG-H8Q99, and if you installed Pro version (32- or 64-bit), the product will be VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T. These product keys will be forever tied to the specific hardware that the original upgrade was installed on. If you do change the hardware on the computer significantly (i.e., the motherboard), you will need to call Microsoft support to inform them of the change so that they can activate it with the new hardware.

If you need to do a fresh install of the operating system, you can do so by installing from either a bootable USB or creating a bootable DVD from an ISO file. During the install, it will ask for your product key. Just skip entering the key and let it install. After you’ve installed the operating system, it will automatically activate by “phoning home” to Microsoft to verify that the hardware you reinstalled on is the same hardware you upgraded from. I actually like this because you don’t have to worry about finding a product key when you want to reinstall.

However, I have upgraded an HP Stream 200-010 Mini Desktop from Win 8 Home to Win 10 Home, and an Asus laptop from Win 7 Pro to Win 10 Pro, and the Win 10 product key was different than those above. I don’t know if that means that my Win 10 installs on those machines are NOT tied directly to the hardware as with the generic product keys. All I know is that the upgrade worked.

If you want to check your product key, I would suggest downloading a small utility called ProduKey from www.nirsoft.net. This utility works with not only Windows 7,8 and 10, but also with Microsoft Office.

To create a bootable USB drive, you will be given the option to do so during the upgrade. I chose this option and then just installed the update from the USB drive. To do an in-place upgrade, you don’t need to boot into the USB drive; just go to the USB drive and run SETUP from there.

If you’ve already upgraded your system but now want to make a bootable USB drive or bootable DVD for yourself, or to take with you to a clients’ location, you’ll need to first download the Windows 10 Media Creation tool found here.

Select either the 32-bit or the 64-bit link, depending on what your current operating system is running, to download the tool. Run the tool (give it a few seconds to load up) and then select “Create installation media for another PC.” You will now be able to select the language (be sure to choose ENGLISH-UNITED STATES and not UNITED KINGDOM), the edition (HOME or PRO) and the architecture (32-bit or 64-bit). You can then select either a USB drive or let it create an ISO file that you can later burn to a DVD. If you select the USB option, you will need a blank USB drive that has at least 4 GB of space on it. After that, it will either start downloading the ISO file or ask you which USB drive to place the downloaded files on. Downloading takes some time so go grab a cup of coffee or do something else while it downloads. I’ve gone ahead and created 4 USB drives, each with one of the 4 available editions of Windows 10, so that I don’t have to wait for a computer to download the updated files.

Also, apparently, Microsoft doesn’t care if you have a pirated copy of Windows 7 or 8. It will install the updates with no questions asked. However, that begs the question, “Why?” My opinion is that next year, after the “free” upgrades end, they will be charging either a monthly fee or an annual fee for the use of the operating system, therefore making it a service rather than a stand-alone product. Once they get everyone updated for “free” to continue using Win 10, you’ll need to pay for it.