Over the last few months, I’ve installed Windows 10 numerous times on our machines at home, mainly due to major hardware changes such as CPUs and motherboards. My last clean install was when I replaced an ageing Gigabyte 770 motherboard which was paired with a Phenom 965. The upgrade to a Gigabyte 990 motherboard, with an FX 8350 CPU and a replacement SSD, required a clean Windows 10 installation, but since the free upgrade offer from Microsoft expired in July 2016 and the disabled persons loophole (Assistive Technology) was plugged a while back, I had to revert to other methods in order to activate Windows.
Installing Windows 10
Installing Windows is a very simple process, the full details of which I don’t need to elaborate on in this article. If you’d like to know how to create bootable media, please refer to this article Create Official Windows 8.1 Installation Media (DVD or USB), since the procedure for Windows 10 is the same. Toward the end of the installation process, you’ll be asked for a Windows key, but I normally skip that step and let the installation complete. You can, of course, enter your Windows 7 or 8 product key at this stage– the end result is the same. I then go to Settings>Update and Security>Activation. Alternatively, you could always click on the Windows nag pop-up, which has the same effect.
I have keys from previous Windows 7 and 8 installations and so far, each time that I’ve used one of those keys on major hardware upgrades, the Windows 10 install has activated as normal. This method still works post-Anniversary Update, but the same key cannot be used on multiple Windows 10 upgrades or installations. I have no idea how long Microsoft will allow this policy to continue, but if you have old keys laying around, you might as well use them while you can!