Windows Upgrade on DIY PC

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Jay Freedman
Microsoft MVP
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Location: Warminster, PA

Windows Upgrade on DIY PC

Post by Jay Freedman »

I'm starting to think about rebuilding this desktop PC, which I built from components in December 2014. It started life with Win7, went briefly to Win8.1, and has been running Win10 Pro since that was released (now on 22H2). Because it has a 4th generation i7 CPU and no TPM, it will never be able to install Win11. I'm not in any hurry to go to Win11, but I am a bit worried about the reliability of some almost-10-year-old components. In the next 6 to 12 months, I plan to replace the motherboard, CPU, RAM, and the system drive.

If it's possible, I would like to get the free upgrade from Win10 Pro to Win11 Pro, but I'm not sure how to go about that. The "new" system will look different enough that the current Win10 installation probably won't recognize it for activation purposes.

Questions:
  • If I make all the other replacements but keep the current system drive, will it boot into Win10 or will it refuse to boot because of needing different hardware drivers?
  • Similarly, if I replace the current system drive with an M.2 SSD (which the old MB wouldn't support) and restore a Macrium Reflect image backup onto it, will that boot into Win10?
  • If neither of these will work, can I use a bootable USB drive with the Win10 Media Creation Tool and somehow wind up with the current license applied to it?
  • Last option: I still have the Win7 CD and installation key, which I could install, upgrade to Win10, and then upgrade to Win11. From something mentioned on Tom's Hardware, that should work, right?
All suggestions are appreciated!

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Rebel
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Location: Recently moved to Bracebridge - in the heart of Muskoka.

Re: Windows Upgrade on DIY PC

Post by Rebel »

Jay Freedman wrote:
13 Sep 2023, 16:26
Questions:
  • If I make all the other replacements but keep the current system drive, will it boot into Win10 or will it refuse to boot because of needing different hardware drivers?
  • Similarly, if I replace the current system drive with an M.2 SSD (which the old MB wouldn't support) and restore a Macrium Reflect image backup onto it, will that boot into Win10?
  • If neither of these will work, can I use a bootable USB drive with the Win10 Media Creation Tool and somehow wind up with the current license applied to it?
  • Last option: I still have the Win7 CD and installation key, which I could install, upgrade to Win10, and then upgrade to Win11. From something mentioned on Tom's Hardware, that should work, right?
I'm not sure about options one and three Jay, but option 2 should work. The problem that might present itself is at what point during these hardware modifications does MS determine that this is no longer the original machine for which you have a license.
Option 4 will work IF you build a Win11 compliant box and have retail Win7 CD. You can certainly install it and then follow the upgrade path to Win11. The only problem that you MIGHT run into is deactivating Win7 from whatever machine on which it was previously installed. A call to Microsoft can usually solve this problem (can't deactivate on a machine which no longer exists). I've run into similar problems in the past and MS has been very obliging and helpful. Good Luck. :crossfingers:
John :canada:
A Child's Mind, Once Stretched by Imagination...
Never Regains Its Original Dimensions

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Jay Freedman
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Joined: 24 May 2013, 15:33
Location: Warminster, PA

Re: Windows Upgrade on DIY PC

Post by Jay Freedman »

Thanks, John.

I may not have trouble deactivating the Win7 license. It's currently on a virtual machine that's running old versions of Office. I can probably do without that.

JoeP
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Re: Windows Upgrade on DIY PC

Post by JoeP »

If your current Win10 is tied to a Microsoft account, you have a digital key stored there. If you restore an image it should activate using the digital key. Once activated, you can get a free upgrade to Win 11.

Microsoft used to be very lenient about handing out new keys with a phone call explaining the situation. You could say you had a hardware problem and had to replace the MB. I do not know if they are still that cooperative.
Joe

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Jay Freedman
Microsoft MVP
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Joined: 24 May 2013, 15:33
Location: Warminster, PA

Re: Windows Upgrade on DIY PC

Post by Jay Freedman »

Thanks, Joe.

As I mentioned, the current Windows is the result of multiple upgrades starting from Win7. The Magic Jelly Bean Finder shows the Win8.1 info, including its installation key. That's why I'm surprised to find that the Settings > Activation page says that Win10 has a digital key, and my Microsoft account knows about it. That should simplify the transfer to the new hardware.

I'm going to watch the hardware prices at least through Black Friday to see how much they're discounted. Planning is in progress.