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You can no longer activate new Windows 11 builds with Windows 7 or 8 keys

A Windows 7 logo next to Windows 11

In December 2022, we published a short PSA, reminding users they could still activate Windows 11 and 10 with valid Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 keys. This practice dates back to 2015 when Microsoft launched Windows 10 with a one-year free upgrade window. Besides letting Windows 7/8 users upgrade for free to Windows 10, Microsoft allowed activating its newest OS using keys from the previous releases.

Upgrade from Windows 7 and 8 to Windows is no longer possible, and it now seems that Microsoft is removing the loophole to prevent users from activating Windows 11 with old Windows license keys.

As spotted by Deskmodder, Microsoft published a message on the Device Partner Center, notifying customers that the installation path to obtain free upgrades from Windows 7 and 8 to more recent Windows versions is no longer available. What it means is that you can no longer update from Windows 7/8/8.1 to Windows 10 or 11.

Windows Ends Installation Path for Free Windows 7/8 Upgrade

Microsoft's free upgrade offer for Windows 10 / 11 ended July 29, 2016. The installation path to obtain the Windows 7 / 8 free upgrade is now removed as well. Upgrades to Windows 11 from Windows 10 are still free.

Although old Windows 7 and 8 keys can still activate Windows 11 version 22H2, newer releases no longer accept such keys. We managed to activate a VM running Windows 11 version 22H2, but a similar virtual machine with the latest Windows 11 Canary build (presumably version 24H2) rejected a Windows 7 key.

A screenshot showing a Windows Activation error

If you plan to build a PC or buy one without an OS, get an official Windows 11 Home key from Amazon with a 7% discount. The OS usually costs $139, but you can now get it for $129.98. The Professional SKU will set you back $199.

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