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In at least two help pages, Microsoft explains that a Windows 10 license can be linked to a Microsoft account, allowing it to be easily moved between computers:

According to this documentation, this is the case when the Windows activation settings display the following message:

Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account.

Apparently, this is a new feature that was introduced in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

I would like to know if there is any way to manage this link between the digital license and the Microsoft account. Specifically, I would like to:

  • See which Microsoft account the license is linked to. I have two users set up on this computer and they are linked to different Microsoft accounts. After checking the activation settings, I realized that the license on that computer was automatically bound to some Microsoft account at some point, but it's not telling me which account it has been bound to. (Is it possible that it is linked to both accounts at the same time?)

  • Unlink the license from a Microsoft account, and possibly re-link it to a different account. This would be useful if I want to give away or sell my computer, for example.

  • What ever account you linked to your profile is the account the license is linked to. If you want to sell the device, format it, the install the original Windows version that was installed on it. – Ramhound Aug 20 '16 at 15:48
  • @Ramhound: "What ever account you linked to your profile is the account the license is linked to." > There are two profiles on that computer. The two profiles are linked to two different Microsoft accounts. How do I tell which one is linked? – Etienne Dechamps Aug 20 '16 at 19:16
  • @Ramhound: "If you want to sell the device, format it, the install the original Windows version that was installed on it." > That is not enough to unlink the license. Seems like one option is to activate Windows a new machine and telling the activator to move the license in my Microsoft account (as described in the help pages I linked), but that seems extremely overkill and tedious (and that assumes I have a new machine in the first place). – Etienne Dechamps Aug 20 '16 at 19:21
  • The only license that you could move from machine to machine would be a retail Windows 10 license, an OEM Windows 10 license and/or a Windows 10 license from the free upgrade program can't be migrated. You can remove a device from your Microsoft account fairly easy, allowing somebody else, to connect the license to their account. – Ramhound Aug 20 '16 at 20:59
  • @Ramhound: A Windows 10 license from the free upgrade program can be migrated since the anniversary update if it is bound to a Microsoft account. I just did it (mainboard replacement). – Thorsten Albrecht Mar 21 '17 at 13:48
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This is an answer to your first question: See which Microsoft account the license is linked to.

There is no direct way to show to which account a digital license is bound to. The account device list of the Microsoft account cannot be trusted: If I add another (non admin) user with a Microsoft account to my machine, the name of the computer will be added in the device list of the new account, too. Certainly, the digital license of my computer is still bound to my (admin) account and not to the new user.

Therfore you have to check the list of digital licenses in every Microsoft account you own.

The only method I know to list digital licenses bound to a Microsoft account is to try to transfer them to a new, "unknown" hardware. "Unknown" means, that on this hardware Windows 10 has not been installed before. "Try" means just to begin the transfer process until the last step and not to finish the activation process.

This new, "unknown" hardware can be a real hardware (new mainboard) or a virtual hardware (e.g. VMware virtual machine). It's important to note that the fingerprint of this hardware shall not exist in the database of Micrsoft's activation servers. Otherwise the hardware will be activated automatically and you won't get a chance to transfer a different digital license to it because it already has a digital license. The transfer process won't get offered.

My method for Windows 10 b1607 is as follows:

  • Create a new virtual machine (VM)
  • Install Windows 10 without any product key (the edition does not matter, Home or Pro, x86 or x64)
  • Try to activate the VM
  • Enter the windows activation dialog where it is possible to transfer your digital licenses to this VM ("Troubleshoot", "I changed hardware on this device recently")
  • Enter your Microsoft account credentials of the account which you want to check
  • Now you get a list ("Reactivate Windows", "Select this device from below") of devices which are bound to your Microsoft account and which have a digital license and which are in the same "device class" as your current device (the VM). This device list is the first part of the whole list of digital licenses of the account. "Device classes" are e. g. laptops, standalone PCs or virtual machines. In my opinion virtual machines are separated in different device classes, too (VMware, Oracle, etc.)
  • To see the second part of the list of your digital licenses you have to list all devices which do not match the current VM, i.e. which belong to a different device class. Click on the link at the bottom of this page: "See other devices linked to your Microsoft account". Now you get the second part of the list of your digital licenses which belong to devices that cannot be transferred ("Device type does not match", Edition does not match")

This whole process seems to be reliable in respect to list my own digital licenses which I bound to different Microsoft accounts. However, some devices of the second list ("We can't reactivate Windows from these devices" ) migrated after some days to the first list ("devices which can be activated"). But this does not matter as the device entries stay the same.

And of course there is no guarantee that devices which are shown in the first list can be reactivated with the device with which you are currently checking the license. E.g. when I check with my virtual machine I also get some digital licenses in the first list which belong to a different device class (e.g. standalone PC). I am sure that a transfer from a license like this to a VM would not work in reality.

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See https://account.microsoft.com/devices for list of devices associated with account. Also Remove option.

  • 1
    This answer would have been better if it was more elaborate. Link-only answers are usually not accepted. – Don't Root here plz... Sep 11 '16 at 9:27
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    An entry in the device list is no proof at all that a digital license is linked to this account. Just add a normal (non admin) user with a Microsoft account and you see the device appear in the device list of the account. Certainly the new account is not bound to the digital license. – Thorsten Albrecht Mar 21 '17 at 13:51

protected by Community Apr 26 '17 at 17:20

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