How to Activate and resolve common Product key issues in Windows 10

Product Activation was first introduced into the Windows family with the release of Windows XP in 2001. Activation pairs your product key with your computer. It is also used as a mechanism for copy protection in addition to defining support rights depending on the product channel from which the software was acquired: Retail, OEM, Volume License, Trial. With Windows 10, Microsoft has made huge announcements regarding product distribution. The most notable being that Windows 10 will be free to existing Windows 7, 8/8.1 users for the first year. Regardless of this, product activation remains a part of Windows 10. In this article, we take a look at product activation and troubleshooting steps.

Click HERE to learn more.

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Windows 10 Review

This summer Microsoft will launch Windows 10; a special major revision that spans desktop, mobile, virtual reality, gaming console, conference rooms and even IoT (Internet of Things) such as the Raspberry PI. Windows 10 is a significant upgrade in the platforms history; because the company describes this as the last monolithic release of the operating system. No, Microsoft is not ending development of the most popular operating system in history; but the company is moving to a future where the roll of the operating system takes a back seat to services. The Cloud has become the buzz word in this industry and for Microsoft it is a critical wave on which company’s future rides, not just on the client side but also in the data centre.

Windows 10 Review: Introduction, Specifications and Setup

Windows 10 Review: Daily Usage

Windows 10 Review: Microsoft Edge web browser

Windows 10 Review: Applications and Compatibility

Windows 10 Review: Multimedia and Productivity

Windows 10 Review: Advanced features, Security and Connectivity

Windows 10 Review: Windows Update, Support, Recovery, Easy Upgrade

Windows 10 Review: Conclusion, Pros, Cons, Rating

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Get Started with Windows 10

Summary

In preparation for the launch of Windows 10 this summer, many of you might want to get up to speed with the new features and functions included in the new version. I have been evaluating Windows 10 since October 1st 2014 and I have managed to the see the operating system go through its ups and downs during that time. The experience has afforded me the ability to have an intimate experience with this platform.  For the average user who probably just started learning about Windows 10 a couple months ago, a few days ago or even a few months from now, these Getting Started guides should help you hit the ground running. Don’t worry, I will continually update this wiki-article with new content. Please don’t hesitate to share your feedback in the comments.

Details

Before you start

Pre-requisite Task

When making significant changes to your computer such as updating the operating system, you should always backup. See links to resources about backing up by clicking the link for the respective version of Windows you are running: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1

Installation

Troubleshooting installation:

Customize and Personalize

After Installing Windows 10

Everyday Tasks

Maintenance

Miscellanous

Advance

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How to: Create a Recovery Drive for reinstalling Windows 10

One of the big questions persons interested in Windows 10 are asking is how will they reinstall the operating system if needed? As you might know, many users will upgrade to Windows 10 using Windows Update instead of using media DVD or USB. Microsoft will provide backup media for persons who might be on a slow connection. Even for persons who might be able to perform the upgrade using Windows Update, what are your options when the time comes to perform a reinstallation? In this article, we take a look at the options available.

Details

Microsoft noted the following options are available:

With Windows 10, you can create your own recovery media and back up the pristine state of the operating system and preinstalled software. If things go wrong and you are unable to refresh or reset your device successfully, you can boot the device using recovery media and reset to the prior pristine state.

Source: http://blogs.windows.com/bloggingwindows/2015/03/16/how-windows-10-achieves-its-compact-footprint/

What you will need?

  • USB thumbdrive with 4 GBs of space or more
  • Your computer running Windows 10

Click Start and type: create recovery

Hit Enter on your keyboard

ImageYou can also find the Recovery drive creator by opening Control Panel (Windows key + X)

Open Recovery

Click Create Recovery drive

Make sure your thumbdrive is connected

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Click Next

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Wait while the wizard prepares to copy files to your thumbdrive.

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Again, make sure your thumbdrive is at 4 GBs, click Next

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The Recovery drive wizard will provide a final warning.

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Creating the recovery drive can take some time. You can do something else while it is prepared.

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When complete, click Finish

Booting from Recovery Drive and Reinstall Windows 10

When you need to use the recovery drive, simply connect it to your computer and boot from it. The methods for booting from a thumbdrive might vary depending on the model and make; consult your computer documentation for instructions how to boot from external media. Some might require that you press ESC, F2, F9, F10, F11, DEL or a combination of keyboard commands. Some might even require that you boot into the BIOS or Firmware and change boot options.

If you are installing from a thumb drive, see the following instructions how to prepare your computer to boot from one:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-NZ/windows7/Start-your-computer-from-a-Windows-7-installation-disc-or-USB-flash-drive

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The Windows logo will appear on screen, this might be here for a while, as long as you see the indicater, everything should be ok.

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Choose your keyboard layout – in my case, I choose US. If you don’t see your keyboard layout listed, click See more keyboard layouts

ImageClick Troubleshoot

ImageClick Recover from a drive

Follow the on screen instructions and wait while Windows 10 reinstalls.

Resources:

How to upgrade to Windows 10 from within Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 using Windows Update

How to: upgrade from previous versions of Windows using Windows 10 ISO file

How to: Switch from 32 bit versions of Windows to Windows 10 64 bit

How to reserve your free upgrade to Windows 10

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How to: 10 things to do if Windows 10 Setup fails

1. Corrupt Install Media

Windows 10 is provided as a digital download media that you must prepare before attempting to install. The .ISO file which is a digital replica of a DVD disc must be burnt to a blank DVD or create a bootable copy on a USB thumb drive.

Sometimes it is possible you downloaded a corrupt .ISO file which prevents setup from working properly. Things you can do include:

– Verify the .ISO file when you download it before you create a bootable copy.

You can do this by checking the  SHA-1 Hash value.

See the following article for tools you can use to verify the Hash value:

http://www.howtogeek.com/67241/htg-explains-what-are-md5-sha-1-hashes-and-how-do-i-check-them/

If it matches with what is listed on the Windows 10 download page, then the file has its integrity.

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview-iso

2. Disconnect non-essential devices attached to your computer.

If you have non-essential external devices attached to your computer during installation this can interfare with the setup engine and prevent the installation from completing because Windows 10 is trying to detect them. So, keep the bare essentials attached, keyboard and mouse. If you have external hard disk or USB keys, disconnect those too.

3. Disable your Antivirus utility and non-essential services/startup programs.

If you are upgrading from a previous version of Windows or a previous Windows 10 build, a common blocker for Windows setup are security utilities. Disable them; these include Antivirus, Firewalls. In most cases, it is strongly recommended you actually uninstall these security utilities and install versions compatible with the version of Windows you are upgrading to.

Background programs that start with Windows can also prevent a successful installation. Configure Windows to do a clean boot bore upgrading.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929135

4. Faulty RAM (Memory).

Sometimes bad memory can be a factor into why Windows Setup refuses to install. Try removing or reducing the amount of installed RAM to a single stick. If you don’t know which RAM module might be faulty, try switching around the memory modules by trying each at a time or trying different memory banks.

5. Disconnect multiple internal hard disks.

If you have more than one hard disk installed in your computer, disconnect all except the target hard disk where Windows 10 will be installed. If you have a RAID (Redudant Array of Inexpensive Disks) configuration, disable your RAID controller.

6. Make sure you have enough disk space available.

Windows 10 requires a minimum 16 GBs (32 bit) or 20 GBs (64 bit) of disk space. If your hard disk is full, this might prevent Windows Setup from successfully completing.

Some things you can do to free up disk space:

– Move older files (Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos) to an external hard disk.

– Uninstall older programs.

– Run disk clean up. See: How to free up disk space in Windows

Important notes

  • Some PC processors and hardware configurations aren’t supported by Technical Preview, including a small number of older, 64-bit CPUs, and some 32 GB and all 16 GB devices running a compressed operating system.

Source: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview-faq-system-requirements-pc

So you will likely have to avoid installing Windows 10 for now.

7. Make sure you select the right partition during setup.

If you are doing a clean install or dual booting, Windows creates additional partitions during setup. Make sure you select the right one. Some persons will make the mistake of selecting the System Reserved Partition which is used to store recovery files.

Selecting the right partition is important.

8. Check your hard disk for errors.

If you are upgrading from a previous version of Windows, sometimes corrupted system files can prevent setup from working properly.

Check your hard disk for errors

Also run the System File Checker utility:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929833

9. Restore redirected Personal folders to their original location.

If you keep your personal folders on another partition or drive for storage benefits, this can actually prevent Windows from installing properly. The recommendation is you restore them to their original location.

10. Make sure your system actually meets the minimum system requirements to run Windows 10.

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Free hard disk space: 16 GB
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
  • A Microsoft account and Internet access

Even some systems that meet these requirements might not be compatible with Windows 10.

To install Windows 10 on your PC, the processor (CPU) must support the following features: Physical Address Extension (PAE), NX, and SSE2. Most CPUs have support for these features, so if you receive this error, it is likely because the NX feature is not enabled on your system.

Download CPU-Z http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html

You can use a free utility such as CPU-Z to determine if your systems processor supports these extension. If does and you are still prevented from upgrading, you likely need to enable the extension your system BIOS or you need to update the BIOS itself. Such updates can often be obtained from the manufacturer of your computer website or from the manufacturer of your motherboard.

Bonus Tip: Make sure you are installing the right architecture.

If you are running a 32 bit version of Windows, you will not be able to upgrade to a 64 bit version of Windows 10, you will receive an error similar to the following:

Which is understandable, since you are running a 32 bit version of Windows. To begin the installation, we will need to restart the computer and boot from the disc or USB thumbdrive which contains the installation files. So, click the close button.

If do wish to migrate to a 64 bit version, you must restart and boot from the installation media and do a custom install. Learn more at the following link:

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wiki/windows_8-windows_install/how-to-migrate-from-32-bit-versions-of-windows-to/46a5b8f6-5fd3-4c67-9482-4573087480fb

BONUS TIPS:

  • First make sure you have enough disk space available, at least 25 to 30 GBs.
    Press Windows key + R
    Type: cleanmgr.exe
    Hit Enter

Follow on screen instructions to free up disk space.

  • Try restarting a few times and try again.
  • Keep in mind that there is significant demand on the servers delivering Windows 10 to your computer, so you might want to hold off and try again later or periodically.
  • Try installing the update again, do the following before:

1.    Open a Command Prompt (Run as Administrator)
2.    Type: cd %windir% and press the Enter key.
3.    Type: net stop wuauserv and press the Enter key
4.    Type: ren softwaredistribution softwaredistribution.old and press the Enter key.
5.    [ Note: if you get an error message, ignore and type the above again and press Enter ]
6.    Type: net start wuauserv and press the Enter key.
7.    Type: Exit and press Enter, then go back and check for Windows Updates again.

When the download reaches 100%, disconnect from the Internet immediately if you are connected by Ethernet or Wireless.
Proceed with the installation and hopefully it will update.

This work around discovered by Community Member Hula_Baloo has been a success for many.

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How to: Rollback to a previous version of Windows from Windows 10

NOTE: Please be aware the Windows.old folder located at the root of the local disk where Windows 10 is installed will be deleted after 30 days automatically. The Windows.old folder is used to facilitate the rollback. So please perform any rollback within 30 days or this option will no longer be available. Otherwise, create a backup before upgrading to Windows 10.

See links to resources about backing up by clicking the link for the respective version of Windows you are running: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1

Summary

Throughout the history of Windows revisions, Microsoft has included an option to uninstall the operating system when you upgrade to a newer version. My recollection of this capability goes back to Windows ME which included the option to uninstall the operating system and restore to a previous version of Windows (I was running Windows 98 SE at the time). Microsoft has supported this functionality in its NT based versions of Windows too, albeit not in a seamless way. The ability to restore a Windows 8.1 installation to Windows 7 required knowing some command line operations that in some instances didn’t guarantee the process would go according to plan. With Windows 10, it seems Microsoft has listened and has provided a welcome option to its recovery tools to make it easy to uninstall Windows 10 and go back to your previous version of Windows. This option can be handy for diagnostics purposes, trial and error or to simply go back to a previous version of Windows that works better with your PC.

Please keep in mind, this only works with Windows 7 and later. Because prior versions of Windows such as Windows Vista and Windows XP can only migrate to Windows 10 through a custom install, the command line operations remain your best choice if you do decide to go back. Also keep in mind, if you do a custom install over Windows 7 or later, the Rollback option is not available. This only works if you had done an in place upgrade from Windows 7 or later.

Start

Start by opening Settings – Click Start > Settings or type Settings in the search bar and click it or press Windows key + i

Rollback 2

Click Update and Security

Rollback 3

Click Recovery then click Get started under Go back to Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 (depending on the previous version you running)

rollback desktop 4

Here you can make multiple selections why are going back to your previous version of Windows along with additional details or you can choose just one and click Next.

rollback desktop 5

As noted, any configurations made to Windows 10 since upgrading will be lost, so if you installed new programs or hardware drivers or made personal settings, those will be deleted.

rollback desktop 5

Click Next

rollback desktop 6

Make sure you have your password ready to sign into your old version if you had been using one. Click Next

rollback desktop 7

The process can take a while depending on the amount data, applications and settings. Click Next

rollback desktop 8

Click Go Back to begin the process.

rollback desktop 9

Windows 10 will Restart

rollback desktop 10

This will be your screen throughout the recovery process.

rollback desktop 11

When the process is complete, you will be booted into your previous version of Windows environment.

If you cannot load the Windows Desktop, you can initiate a Rollback using the following method:

Rollback 3a

Log out and go to the sign in screen.
Hold down the shift key on your keyboard while clicking the Power button on the screen
Continue to hold down the shift key while clicking Restart
Continue to hold down the shift key until the Advanced Recovery Options menu appears

Rollback 4

Click Troubleshoot

Rollback 4a

 Click Advanced options

5

Click Go back to the previous version of Windows

Related:

How to: upgrade from previous versions of Windows using Windows 10 ISO file

Get started with Windows 10

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