With the first major update to Windows 10 (called the November Update) now rolling out to devices and PCs worldwide, users should note that there are changes as to how licensing is handled. When Windows 10 launched in late July, the operating system required computers to have a genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 license installed. If you read our article on how to determine the architecture, edition, and channel of Windows currently installed, you’ll notice when you upgraded to build 10240, Windows maintained the licensing status according to the channel. So if you upgraded from Windows 7 OEM or Retail, your free Windows 10 upgrade would inherit those channels.
With build 10586, this is not as clearly defined since all upgrades to the November Update are automatically defined as from a retail channel. In regards to troubleshooting issues with product activation, this adds a bit of complication since PCs that qualify for the upgrade, in particular, retail licenses, will use a default product key used by Windows 10 Home and Pro.
One improvement introduced with the November Update is the ability to use your Retail or OEM product key to activate Windows 10. The problem is when you upgrade to Windows 10, especially from Windows 8, and you encounter glitches with product activation, you normally don’t have a product key. Luckily, there’s a free utility called ShowKeyPlus that will find it for you. Here’s how it works.
Find Windows 10 Product Key After Upgrade
After downloading it, extract the zip file then launch ShowKeyPlus.exe.
Immediately, ShowKeyPlus will reveal your product key and license information such as:
- Product Name
- Product ID
- The currently installed key, which is the generic product key used by Windows 10 depending on the edition installed.
- The Original product key. This can be your Windows 7 or Windows 8 retail or OEM product key before upgrading. This is the product key you want if you encounter product activation issues in Windows 10.
- OEM Key OR Retail: ShowKeyPlus will check for the presence of an OEM marker; that is how big name vendors activate multiple machines at the factory running Windows.
If you’re encountering product activation issues, once you use ShowKeyPlus to find your original product key, you can use it to update the product key values in Windows 10.
Copy the product key and go to Settings > Update & Security > Activation.
Then select the Change product key button and paste it in. Restart Windows 10, and you should be activated.
You can also use ShowKeyPlus to find your product key from a Windows Backup, and also to verify which edition your product key is associated with using the Check product key function. A handy gem to have in your tech toolbox.