SOLVED Windows 10 Upgrade cloning issue - can't activate

  • Have a number of Windows 7 Pro Dell PCs I’m trying to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro and reimage.

    The image gets created and deployed to exact same hardware, however Windows activation fails as the “wrong” key is used.
    The same exact hardware is “happy” if cloned Windows 7 to Windows 7.

    Any ideas how to go about this?

  • Senior Developer

    @petergalgano et al, just about an hour ago I pushed an update based on a theory of the Windows 10 bcd not being compatible with the windows 7,8 and 8.1 OSs. The current inits in trunk will not attempt to replace the Windows 10 bcd as it has in the past. Please try updating and see if it helps. Also if you’re booting Windows 10 from UEFI, during up and down imaging please turn off secure boot. If the image is uploaded with secure boot on, it doesn’t matter anymore and will not work on any system but POSSIBLY the original uploading system and its not a strong possibly statement.

  • Hello, all,

    I have the same situation as the OP, unfortunately, i’m still a bit confused.

    Firstly, thanks to the developers for this wonderful software. We’ve used FOG a couple of years ago to roll out a couple of dozen Windows 7 Pro OEM workstations in our AD domain. We sys-prepped and imaged the machines, and were able to use activate each machine with licenses, it was very successful. We’re now planning to upgrade these Win 7 Pro OEM machines to Windows 10, and wondering if it would be possible to utilize FOG to upgrade and re-image the machines in one step.

    I’m sorry if i’m hijacking this thread somewhat, as I have searched around quite a bit, but I haven’t found a how-to that’s successful, and I haven’t found a clear answer in one thread, as to why exactly it won’t work. What I’d like to do is summarize my understanding of the situation, and I’m hoping more knowledgeable people can confirm if I’m correct in my understanding, correct me where I’m wrong. I see posts where these questions are asked repeatedly, and I’ve only been able to piece together my understanding from multiple sources. I’m hoping if we can summarize the correct information in full, it will clarify my questions, and others will find it in the future.

    I believe the short answer is No, that sys-prepping and imaging a machine for OEM upgrades in a single step is basically impossible, although once Windows 10 is upgraded and activated, you may freely re-partition and clean install or re-image the computer in the future, and the licensing will be verified automatically, and you are on your way.

    So this is what I’m understanding.

    1. If you have VLK licensing of Windows 10, you may be able to sysprep and image onto machines that have another os on it. The licensing for VLK is different compared to OEM or Retail versions. I believe I understand that Fog may be used in one step to upgrade a machine in this environment.

    2. Windows 10 is set up that OEM / Retail versions are tied now to a physical piece of hardware for the life of the machine, and all future upgrades will be available via Window Update, so there will be no future upgrades required on that machine.

    3. The way that Windows 10 becomes Activated/ Registered is as part of the upgrade. That is, when you run the install of Windows 10 from USB or CD or over a network, the software identifies your current version of Windows, and allows a like and kind upgrade, ie from Home to Home or from Pro to Pro.

    4. The upgrade then takes a survey of your hardware, and assembles a profile from that hardware, for instance checking the unique codes on the Processor and/ or Motherboard, and stores that code online at Microsoft. This establishes that your hardware has a license for a particular Win 10 version. This license is valid for the lifetime of that hardware.

    5. As mentioned above, only after this point are you free to reinstall or image that machine, for instance if your hard drive fails, you have a corrupted installation, or if you would like to re-image the machines to implement a consistent strategy as part of a domain. Since the validity of the license has already been confirmed, any future install will check with the central registration servers at Microsoft, find your hardware, and allow clean installation.

    6. So, in order to upgrade, you MUST run an install on each machine, allow it to do it’s thing which will register your hardware as licensed, and then you are fee to blow away the OS Partition install and do a clean manual install or re-image via FOG. You should not have to worry about the activation, or entering License Keys, etc, which will happen automatically.

    7. Unfortunately, manually upgrading each machine is time consuming, and you lose the chance to refresh the OS to a clean state at that time.

    8. It appears that the necessity of future “clean” or reimaging installs to a machine as part of an upgrade is less likely compared to windows 7 / XP era installs. This is because you may utilize Window Update or your server-based tools to roll out all future updates. So upgrades per-se, are somewhat a thing of the past. It also seems that the entire Windows OS environment is more mature, so software may install and uninstall more cleanly, and SXS system and SFC-type tools help a lot with dll and driver version handling, are able to prevent OS corruption and “bloat” at least to a large degree.

    9. Hopefully, MS will be more diligent about rolling updates into new versions and service packs to avoid the interminable rebooting ordeal of installing a hundred updates on a new machine. We’ve had “clean” machines sitting on shelves that take hours to prep for a desktop.

    10. I presume there is some facility to reestablish your license if you need to replace a motherboard or processor or some other key piece of hardware that might break the identification that has been registered with Microsoft. Is this true, or might you have to purchase another license with the hardware you are replacing?

    11. So, my main question: Is there any way around this? I have not found a way to get around the requirement that you must upgrade the machine manually prior to re-imaging the OS partition. Is this true? I have been hoping to find a way to allow registering and imaging a machine with an OEM license in a single step, for instance running a utility on the old OS that would establish the license and register the hardware in advance, allowing you to immediately reimage the os partition.

    So, is all of this correct? Please feel free to comment.

    Thanks to those that were patient enough to read through this, I’m hoping that if we get a somewhat authoritative understanding in place, others will find it.


  • Senior Developer

    @euromade No problem. I’m sounding rude probably, but please know this is not my intent. Frustrating, sure, but I know you’re just looking for information, and I’m more frustrated that I don’t have a more suitable answer, at least not right now.

  • @Tom-Elliott Thanks for the input…

  • Senior Developer

    All the while, this seems like a misunderstanding and not something FOG can take care of. At least not in the regards to how you’re dealing with it currently.

  • Senior Developer

    Windows 10 is licensed in similar ways as Windows 7, and 8, but how are you upgrading? I believe THIS factor makes all the difference. If you’re VLK you shouldn’t haven’t change anything, but I’m imagining (from your description) that you are using OEM Images which licensing has changed to a per system style (not per certificate of OEM style). This, essentially, means the licensing does NOT transfer from one system to many because it’s only licensed for that single system. This is why activation is failing.