Today Microsoft released Windows 10 Build 14371 to Insiders on the the Fast Ring and, while it had a long list of fixes included, it only had one new feature added however, this feature promises to help users minimize activation issues which can be a source of frustration.
We are at the point in the development of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, just five weeks from the expected release date on 29 July 2016, that in the past there has been a slowing down of builds and new features to the operating system update.
Apparently the new Microsoft is changing even more than it has because we have had a total of nine new builds released to testers in June alone. There have been five for PCs and four on the mobile side.
So let's start with a little Windows 10 history.
Here on SuperSite: Windows the time leading up to the initial release of Windows 10 last July was full of questions about licensing, activations, what hardware changes would trigger re-validation of the license and other concerns when it came to the actual upgrade process for Windows 7/8.1 devices to the new operating system.
We learned a lot along the way about the Digital Entitlement and the critical necessity to perform an upgrade to Windows 10 first before any clean installs so that the hardware would have the right Digital Entitlement for activation. That was even more critical because at that time users were not allowed to use their Windows 7/8.1 product keys to activate Windows 10 on their devices.
A Windows 10 system activated with a Digital Entitlement.
Then leading up to the release of the Windows 10 November Update last year, Microsoft implemented a feature just four weeks prior to the first major update of Windows 10 that allowed users to activate their Windows 10 installs using the product keys for Windows 7/8.1 on that hardware. That meant simplicity when it came to activation whether you upgraded from the eligible operating system or you did a clean install.
Now here we are just five weeks before the release of the Anniversary Update for Windows 10, the second major update for the OS, and Microsoft has just unveiled a new feature that will go even further to helping users maintain their activation and eliminate concerns about losing their free Windows 10 upgrade.
A Windows 10 system showing the Digital License activation.
Beginning today with Windows 10 Build 14371, users will be able to associate their Microsoft Account (MSA) to their systems Digital License (DL), what we used to call a Digital Entitlement, and validate that hardware by logging in with their MSA. If they use a Local Account then they would be prompted to sign in on the Settings > Update & security > Activation page to to connect the DL to their MSA.
What this basically does is give the user the ability to run the new Activation Troubleshooter when they encounter activation issues on a Genuine Windows system.
Some examples of possible scenarios could include a system that was activated with Windows Professional but inadvertently has Windows Home installed in a clean install. The situation that is more likely to occur though, and probably the one that concerns people more than anything, is a hardware upgrade of say a disk drive, video card or even a motherboard according to Microsoft, causing the system to be no longer properly activated.
In these situations users will be able to go to Settings > Update & security > Activation > Troubleshoot to begin the troubleshooter and resolve the activation issues.
Of course, key to this is that user must have previously logged their Digital License against their MSA otherwise that activation information will not be available when the Activation Troubleshooter attempts to resolve the issue.
If you already use a MSA to log into Windows 10 on your devices and your device is already properly activated then this information is already tied to your MSA.
There is an entire Feedback Hub article with walkthroughs and screenshots of what you will see using the Activation Troubleshooter so be sure to check it out.
Update: I have been able to go through most of the Activation Troubleshooter screens on a couple of virtual machines running non-genuine versions of Windows 10 (for testing purposes of course) and now have some good quality screenshots of what you might see when using this new tool.
If there are still questions after reading this article and the Feedback Hub posting let us know and we will dig into the details even further.