Have you ever had to reinstall Windows from scratch after replacing a bad hard drive, being hit with a severe malware attack or some other digital disaster?
If so, you probably remember having to type in your Windows Product Key so Microsoft could reactivate your Windows installation.
I have always considered having to re-enter the Product Key to reactivate a machine’s Windows installation to be an irritating waste of time.
And even worse, if you couldn’t find the Product Key when you needed it you were simply out of luck.
Thankfully, Microsoft has changed the way they handle Windows Product Keys (and made it a lot better in my opinion).
When you reinstall Windows 10 or Windows 11 you’ll never have to enter a Windows Product Key for that machine as long as you install the same edition of Windows (i.e. Windows 10 Home, Windows 11 Pro, etc.) that you originally installed on it.
That’s because Microsoft stores a “snapshot” of the specific hardware you’re running that particular installation of Windows on.
In a nutshell, these stored snapshots create a digital license that allows you to reinstall Windows 10 or Windows 11 on the same machine from scratch as many times as you want without having to enter any kind of Product Key or validation code.
This is a very welcome change from previous Windows versions, and it was long overdue in my humble opinion.
I’ve always thought it was just plain wrong for the rightful license holder of a digital product to keep having to jump through such an onerous hoop just to prove they’re entitled to use a product they’ve paid good money to use.
And now you no longer have to. Kudos, Microsoft!
Bonus tip: Reinstalling Windows 10/11 after a hard drive failure will be a breeze if you have a System Image Backup on hand. These posts explain how to create one.