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Link Windows 10 Digital License to Microsoft Account Before Hardware Change

Many PC users were unable to activate their copy of Windows 10 after changing PC's hardware. If your Windows 10 activated with a digital license instead of product key, you can link your Windows 10 license to Microsoft account, which makes it easier to reactivate the Windows 10, especially after upgrading hard drive or replacing motherboard.

Link Windows 10 Digital License to Your Microsoft Account

If you are using a local user account instead of a Microsoft account, use the instructions given below to link your Windows 10 license to your Microsoft account.

Step 1: Sign in as an administrator to add your Microsoft account.

To confirm you're using an administrator account, select the Start button, then select Settings > Accounts > Your info. Under your name, you’ll see Administrator. If you’re not an administrator, see Create a administrator account.

Step 2: Confirm that you're an administrator and using your Microsoft account (See if an email address is displayed above Administrator).

Sign in with an administrator MS account

Step 3: Open the Activation page, select Add an account, enter your Microsoft account and password, and then select Sign in.

Add an account

Step 4: You may be asked to enter a current Windows password.

Step 5: After your Microsoft account has been added, on the Activation page you'll see Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account.

Digital license linked to MS account

Activating Windows 10 after hardware changes

If you have linked your Windows 10 digital license to a Microsoft account, you can activate Windows 10 using the following steps after hardware changes.

Step 1: Open the Settings app. Click Update & Security. Click on Activation.

If the copy of your Windows 10 is not activated and you see a link labeled "Troubleshoot", as shown below.

Activation troubleshooting

Step 2: Click the "Troubleshoot" link to open the Windows 10 activation troubleshoote. The troubleshooter will show Windows can't be activated on your device.

Step 3: Select I changed hardware on this device recently, then select Next.

I changed hardware on this device recently

Step 4: Enter your connected Microsoft account and password, then select Sign in.

Step 5: From the list of devices that are linked to your Microsoft account, select the check box next to This is the device I'm using right now. Select Activate.

Windows 10 activation troubleshooter

Why are some Windows 10 digital licenses automatically linked to Microsoft accounts, but some are not?

Microsoft provides a digital license (formerly known as digital entitlement) is used to automatically activate the copy of Windows 10 when you performing a fresh installation, reinstalling or changing PC hardware.

Whether a digital license is automatically linked to a Microsoft account usually depends on how you get Windows 10 and activate Windows 10 for free.

  • If you have upgraded from a genuine copy of Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 to Windows 10, it will automatically activate over an Internet connection and create an online digital license for your device.
  • If your Windows 10 is activated by the product key activation method, the Microsoft account is not linked to a digital license.

Therefore, if you are experiencing activation issues caused by hardware changes, you can reactivate your genuine Windows 10 device by running the activation troubleshooter with this Microsoft account link digital license.