1 2 3 Previous Next 40 Replies Latest reply on May 2, 2016 12:11 PM by Intel Corporation

    BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?

    Bilj

      This is on a NUC6i5SYK.

      I think this happened after updating BIOS to 36 a month ago.   System "seemed" to be ok (although BIOS boot msg kept saying "Factory Mode") then I powered off for a month.  Yesterday I fired it up again to install new drivers (chipset, Wireless LAN, Bluetooth, basically everything released in March or April 2016) and noticed that AIDA64 (a benchmarking program) started telling me it didn't recognize my motherboard type, and Windows 10 told me it was not activated and wanted me to enter a new key.   My Windows 10 activation was based on an older Windows 7 key I used during initial installation of Windows 10 version 1511 from DVD.   The activation is tied to my specific hardware such that I could even re-install Windows 10 from scratch and it would "recognize" my hardware and grant my digital entitlement to run Windows 10.  I had been using this installation of Windows 10 since January without issue.  

       

      At some point (I suspect after installing BIOS 36, or maybe installing newer drivers) this problem started but I didn't notice a month ago, maybe it was in  "grace period".   Anyway, fast forward a month, and suddenly Windows 10 with new drivers thinks my hardware is different and won't activate.  I went ahead and updated to BIOS 42 but it made no difference.

       

      Has anyone run into this?  Is the BIOS or driver set changing how the motherboard is identified?

        • 1. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
          rado77

          I don't think so. Activation is based on HW serial numbers and this SN cannot be changed by BIOS update

          • 2. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
            det_bradlee

            Maybe not entirely true. MS does not publish exactly how they ID machines. It's a combination of many things, and not just serial numbers, MAC addresses, etc.. There very well could have been multiple firmware updates included in the BIOS that changed multiple identification strings at once. It could also be that the user had certain things turned on/off during that initial activation, then changed them to off/on, along with certain updates, that may have broken activation. You'd hope MS activation would be smart enough to update itself, or that Intel BIOS updates would make sure they don't cause such issues... But without knowing the exact activation formula, it's all speculation, and anything is possible.

            • 3. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
              rado77

              OK, so why I don't have problem with re-activation afetr BIOS upgrade? Activation is based on CPU ID, MB SN, RAM SN. Eveything else can be changed milion times

              • 4. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
                hegenious

                I would try this:

                 

                in an elevated command prompt, with the machine connected to the internet, type slmgr /ato, this might re-activate Windows.

                if not, still in the elevated command prompt, you can type slui 4 which opens the offline activation wizard. Call the toll-free number that's in the wizard and follow the instructions the phone Robot provides. Don't worry, you will not be talking to a real Microsoft employee.

                Cant guarantee this works, but definitely worth a try.

                 

                If all this fails I would give MS support a call, they can sort this out.

                • 5. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
                  det_bradlee

                  rado77 care to share where you got that activation formula? I'm fairly certain it is just speculation, and there's quite a bit more to it than that.

                  • 6. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
                    rado77

                    I never studied Win activation. But I simply don't believe that BIOS update can cause Win re-activation. Millions of users over the world updated their BIOSes (maybe few times), but if that BIOS update will affect WIn activation, I'm sure that we all will know this info .

                     

                    Problem is that " Windows 10 activation was based on an older Windows 7 key" - that's bad. He cannot use Win7 key for Win10. Also when user is doing web-upgrade from Win7 to Win10, in new Win10 he get different key. I think that his comp wasn;t successfuly activated before. Now he turned comp after 1 month and of course it still asked him for activation. That's all

                    • 7. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
                      det_bradlee

                      That's absolutely not true. You can indeed use any valid Windows 7/8/8.1 product key to not only upgrade to Win10, but also to do a completely fresh install of Win10. This was added into the Win10 setup with the first update. Any current ISO will work this way. After install is complete with an old key, and once your machine connects to the internet (MS activation servers), MS will record a compiled hardware ID fingerprint and grant that ID a Digital Entitlement so subsequent installs will not need a product key. You can skip entering the key in the future, and the machine will automatically activate once online just as if you had originally used a Win10 product key.

                       

                      Currently, MS has stated that this free upgrade period is only during the first year, so this most likely will not work after July 29th, 2016. BUT, if you have a digital entitlement in place before this time, you can always do a fresh install on the same hardware at any point in the future.

                       

                      Short answer, yes you can use a Win7 key, and that will have no impact on activation. I have seen instances where, for whatever reason, genuine upgrades have had activation break after a period of time. But those cases were fixed simply by reentering the same Win7 product key.

                       

                       

                      So...  Either his machine was not actually activated to begin with, a combination of firmware upgrades within BIOS updates along with other hardware changes occurred (turning wifi/sd/etc. off or on in BIOS might have an impact - but again we do not know since MS does not make this formula public), or it could be as simple as it didn't like not being able to connect to an MS activation server for an extended period of time. It's quite possible that to keep activation with digital entitlements that your hardware ID fingerprint is updated over the course of time to ensure small changes here and there do not break activation.

                      • 8. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
                        rado77

                        Strange - for me it didn't worked. I tried to give Win7 key to fresh Win10 installation, but activation wasn;t success. After  that I had for example activated Win7 (and lic key written on paper), after taht I made web-upgrade to 10, and checked current lic key in Win10, and was different

                        • 9. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
                          Bilj

                          Since I have many Acronis True Image backups of my entire C: drive going back to January, I am going to do some experimentation this weekend.  I might even reflash my BIOS to an older version to see if I can reproduce what happened to me and figure out exactly how it happened.

                           

                          Regarding "activation" of Windows 10, please understand that Microsoft is doing something entirely new this time with the "free upgrade" installations of Windows 10.   Most of us are probably not installing Windows 10 with a true Windows 10 key (only if you actually BOUGHT Windows 10 would you have a key).    I suspect most of us are taking advantage of the free upgrade offered by Microsoft to users of Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1   For those, you can either upgrade them in place, OR... if you have an ISO of Windows 10 Version 1511 (the re-release from November 2015) you can install it fresh and actually enter a Windows 7 or 8.1 product key and it will accept that and install.  That's what I did.  But.... be aware that the Win 7 or 8.1 key you enter is NOT actually stored in Windows 10 and is not used in any way for activation of Windows 10.  That key just triggers something in the installation that flags you as an "upgrade".  At that point, Windows 10 will create a some special hash ID of your hardware and register that with Microsoft's servers.   Any time Windows 10 contacts Microsoft's servers and submits that hardware hash ID, Microsoft will "validate" that copy of Windows 10.

                          Once this has been done, you can completely wipe your disk and re-install Windows 10 from scratch, and not enter any key, and it will magically authenticate itself with Microsoft and be valid but only on that exact same hardware.

                          Somehow my hardware became mis-identified by Microsoft and this is what I want to figure out.   But in this case I should be able to contact Microsoft on the phone and get my system re-activated so I will also try that.   

                          Thanks for everyone's comments.  I mainly wanted to know if anyone else has experienced this.   If it's a real problem, it will happen to other people.  If it's some weird fluke on my system only, then it won't happen to anyone else.  

                          Next week I will update this with results of some tests over the weekend.

                          • 10. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
                            Bilj

                            By the way, when my Windows 10 became "invalid", I did try re-entering the same Windows 7 key I had used originally for installation, and it did NOT accept that.  I guess here it was expecting only a Windows 10 key.   So the only time a Windows 7 key will be accepted seems to be during initial installation, and then only if you have the Version 1511 release (it WON'T work with the RTM release from July 2015).

                            • 11. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
                              det_bradlee

                              Are you using an OEM key, a key from a sticker on another machine, or a retail key? The OEM keys wont work (they work just fine if upgrading).

                              • 12. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
                                Bilj

                                I used a retail product key for Windows 7.

                                • 13. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
                                  det_bradlee

                                  Strange. I had a machine "unactivate" and was able to reactivate it with the same Win7 Pro product key inside Win10.

                                  • 14. Re: BIOS or driver update causes Windows 10 to lose hardware-based activation?
                                    Bilj

                                    To be honest, I can't say for SURE that I re-entered the exact SAME Windows 7 key.  I have several, and was not sure which one I originally used.

                                    But it's interesting you had a machine "unactivate".

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