Microsoft loves Windows 10, users upgrading from Windows 8.1 love Windows 10, and even some pirates love the new operating system. Now, Microsoft wants to make it easier for pirates—’non-genuine users’ in diplomatic Microsoft-speak—to get a legitimate Windows 10 license after upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1.
Soon Microsoft will introduce “a one-click opportunity to get Genuine via the Windows Store or by entering an activation code purchased elsewhere,” according to a blog post. The new program will be U.S.-only at launch.
Once Microsoft’s one-click experience is active we’ll update this article with instructions on how to use it. For now, here’s how genuine pirates can currently end their “non-genuine” Windows status by upgrading to Windows 10 and purchasing a license.
This tutorial assumes you’ve used a cracking tool and have a seemingly legitimate Windows product key.
What most non-genuine Windows users do is just upgrade to Windows 10 the usual way, using the update tool provided by Microsoft. You can find out more information about how to do this in our previous article covering Windows 10 upgrades.
There are a few key things to remember at this point. First, you want to make sure that you are upgrading to a version of Windows 10 that corresponds with your older Windows build. If you’re on Windows 7 Home Premium or plain old Windows 8.1, for example, you want to upgrade to Windows 10 Home. If you have a Pro version, you must upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.
Once you get to the screen asking for a product key during the upgrade, just press Skip. You’ll activate later.
If you are asked for a product key a second time after installation, press Do this later.
During the summer, some users on Reddit reported that after upgrading a cracked version of Windows 7 or 8.1 they ended up with a genuine activation of Windows 10. Don’t count on that happening for you, and if it does, the activation may be corrected a few days later.
Regardless, now is the time to get your legitimate Windows 10 license. Click the Start button and select Settings to open the Settings app. Then navigate to Update & Security > Activation.
On this screen it should notify you that your version of Windows 10 needs to be activated. Click the Go to Store button.
Now you’ll be taken to the Windows Store app, where you can buy a proper Windows license.