How to Reactivate Windows after changing Hardware (Windows 11/10)

If you receive a Windows not activated or Windows not active issue after you have changed computer hardware or reinstalled Windows, here is how to reactivate Windows after a hardware change. This works for Windows 11, 10, and almost any version.

Does Minor Change Affect Windows Activation State

Performing a minor change like a hard drive replacement or changing the graphics card never causes this problem. However, if you change your motherboard, Windows doesn’t recognize it as the same computer because you get a new BIOS chip with a motherboard that holds the SLIC (digital signature or software licensing description set down by the OEM inside the BIOS). Windows gets deactivated when this hardware signature changes.

How to Reactivate Windows After Changing Hardware

A free Windows Upgrade doesn’t require a Product Key because Windows uses this keyless entitlement method and records the digital signature in Microsoft Servers. If you try to add a key, it can spoil the activation process. When you use Activation Troubleshooter, it will automatically use the previous version license and activate your Windows.

Earlier, there was no possible way to fix this issue. However, after the anniversary update, reactivation of Windows 11, 10 is possible and more accessible for every user. Though the license is limited to the computer’s hardware, users can still use this feature to activate Windows after hardware change on the same machine.

1] Use the Same Microsoft Account to Link the Windows Digital License.

After the Anniversary Update, the Microsoft account &  Windows digital license (digital entitlement) are linked. It helps you to reactivate your device automatically after a hardware change by signing into your computer with that Microsoft account.

You must follow these steps to link your Microsoft account to the digital license.

  • Sign in to your Windows as an administrator or with your primary Microsoft account.
  • Go to Start > System >  Activation
  • Click on Add an account under Add a Microsoft account.Add Microsoft Account
  • Add account details like Microsoft email ID and Password, then Sign In.

Note: It may ask you to enter the password of your local account if the Microsoft account is not connected.

Once the details are filled in on the activation page and the account is added, you will see a message on the screen—Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account. Change Windows 10 Product key

If the Microsoft account has already been added to the device, it would say—Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft Account.

Windows Activation Status

After changing the motherboard, it is advisable to skip the Enter your product key message while installing Windows on the PC.

2) Use of the Activation Troubleshooter after a Notable Change in Hardware

Once you link your Microsoft account with the digital license of your device, you can utilize the Activation troubleshooter. It it also helpful if you can’t activate Windows after hardware change. While it will reactivate Windows, make sure you sign in as an administrator before doing that.

  • Once again, go to Start > System > Activation and select TroubleshootWindows 10 activation troubleshooter
  • The troubleshooter will display a message: Windows cannot be activated on this device.
  • Choose I changed the hardware on this device recently, then press Next.Change Windows 10 hardware recently
  • Enter your Microsoft account details, such as ID and password, then Sign in.
  • Select the current device from the list of devices using your Microsoft account.
  • Put a checkmark next to— This is the device I’m using right now, and click on Activate.

Make sure you sign in with the same Microsoft account linked to the digital license of Windows on your PC. Otherwise, the device won’t appear on the list.  If the account details are correct and it still doesn’t show you the device on the list, here are a few reasons that may cause the interruption in activating Windows after hardware change:

  • The edition of Windows on your device differs from the version linked with the digital license.
  • The type of device could be different.
  • Windows was not activated on the device at any time.
  • You have come to the limit of numbers you can reactivate Windows.
  • Maybe the PC has more than one administrator, and the other one has already activated Windows.
  • The device is in a domain or group and can be activated by the admin panel of the organization.

Let us know if these tips helped you to reactivate Windows after a hardware change.

Yogesh Mankani
Yogesh Mankani has been a freelance content writer for the last 10 years. His passion for blogging and giving words to his ideas and thoughts made him fall more in love with his profession which he takes very personally.


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