Without much fanfare, Microsoft announced that users will no longer be able to install and activate Windows 10 or Windows 11 with older Windows 7 and Windows 8 product keys.
For a long time, it was easy to get Windows 10 or Windows 11 using old Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 product keys on an old OS. Initially, Microsoft encouraged PC owners to upgrade to new versions of Windows by giving them the opportunity to use old keys from previous releases. And now the freebie ends. On September 20, 2023, Microsoft announced that you will no longer be able to activate the latest versions with old Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 product keys. "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," the corporation said in a statement. Is it really impossible to activate Windows 11 using an old official key?
Are all Windows builds already unavailable with old Win7/8 key?
Neowin performed a number of installations and were able to activate the current version of Windows 11 22H2 using Win7 keys. However, after trying the test version of Windows 11 Canary 24H and other new versions, Neowin was unable to update the system. "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", Neowin reported.
Will my current installation still work?
No need to worry yet. Your current installation will continue to function. If you re-image the machine, everything will be fine, as long as the equipment matches the digital signature created during the initial activation.
To summarize all of the above, you may still be able to activate Windows 11 version 22H2 with old Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 keys, but you will not be able to get newer builds. It is possible that the free Windows 7/8 update will be completely disabled with the release of the next version of Windows 11. Thinking strategically, it might be worth shelling out the cash and buying a paid official Windows 11 key.