Windows 11 no longer accepts Windows 8/7 keys for activation

Microsoft has finally closed the loophole that allowed you to get Windows 11 for free by using a legacy serial number. The algorithm that accepts activation keys from older Windows versions, such as Windows 8/8.1/7, has been disabled. From now on, you have to purchase a Windows 11-specific serial number to activate your copy.

The appropriate announcement has appeared on Microsoft's Device Partner Center website. It states the following:

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.

So, for clean install of Windows 11 version 23H2, you need to have a key that only applies to Windows 11. Quite possible that you still can trick the OS by installing Windows 11 version 22H2, or the original release, or even Windows 10, and then upgrade it to Windows 11 23H2. However, if Microsoft has changed the server-side checks, this may also fail.

Obviously, you should still be able to upgrade the existing Windows 11 instance from its older version to the most recent one.


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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

2 thoughts on “Windows 11 no longer accepts Windows 8/7 keys for activation”

  1. I feel Windows 10 keys will work on 11 (and heck 12), even though they are few keys or installation media sell online. And I feel people already moved on from Windows 7 and 8.1 after they upgraded to 10, prior killing the “free upgrade offer loophole” or just buying new PCs came with 10 or 11.

    1. I tried one on Windows 10 a few days ago — here’s my blog post on this topic: — and it allowed the installation to complete, but didn’t activate the Windows 10 instance. Older keys no longer work for either OS. HTH,

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