This is one question that a lot of people have been asking, and Gabe Aul, the head of the Windows Insider program, finally answered it on Twitter today. Credit goes to Brad Sams at Neowin for catching this since it was a reply to another tweet.

Gabe states:

Once you upgrade W10 w/ the free upgrade offer you will able to clean reinstall Windows 10 on same device any time

There’s not a lot else to be said, but he also said they are working on some more information to make this more clear. What it does mean is that in order to get the free upgrade, you need to upgrade from an eligible device, and once done, you can then blow that away and do a clean install. I guess we’re not sure yet if that means you can do a reset using the Windows Recovery tools, or if you can actually start with a new hard drive or ISO in order to do the clean install.

Hopefully we’ll get the final bit of clarification on this soon, but since this is one of the most asked questions that I have seen, I felt it was worth letting everyone know.

Source: Gabe Aul via Neowin

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  • Artuk - Thursday, June 25, 2015 - link

    I don't believe that is how it works. Your install should be linked to the motherboard for OEM copies. I can't recall if it used the MAC address or a SN from the BIOS but that should be the trigger. The massive number of items changing has historically been more of a video game thing. I have never heard of anyone actually having a problem when they contacted Microsoft.
  • Disorganise - Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - link

    "It triggered a reautorisation when a swapped my SSD!!!! " - were you booting from that SSD by any chance? makes sense to trigger if you clone the boot device
  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - link

    I'm hoping "same device" means same license key.
  • Oblivion2500 - Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - link

  • jameskatt - Monday, June 8, 2015 - link

    Same device = Same license key
    Different device = different license key
    Change motherboard = different device
    Change components = different device
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - link

    Then you will need a new licence as you've moved machine. It's pretty much the same avenue as previous windows machines and YOU probably know that.
  • gw74 - Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - link

    Incorrect. windows upgrade licences are transferable to anyone else, as long as the machine they are putting it on is eligible (i.e. has version of windows eligible for upgrade). At least the Windows 8.1 upgrade was.
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - link

    Yep you are correct. In the case of Windows 10 I'm under the impression that the upgrade isn't going to be the same 'retail' upgrade. MS has said, "For the life of the machine". if you move then that's no longer THAT machine. new licence.
  • Samus - Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - link

    it depends on how they handle OEM licenses vs Retail licenses. OEM licenses must stay with the machine. Retail licenses are transferable to a new machine.
  • Gezzer - Thursday, June 4, 2015 - link

    Actually it's you who might be confused over this. There are or have been 4 types of Windows licenses.

    Full, which means no restrictions and full support from MS.
    Upgrade, which requires a earlier version of windows on the target machine, and has full support from MS. BTW an easy work around is to install the upgrade and do the first boot to desktop but don't activate. Then simply install for a second time and you're golden.
    Both these versions can be moved from one machine to another with pretty much no restrictions. It's supposed to be 4 times, but the activation servers seem to reset after a year or two so it doesn't matter how many times it's installed. Of course these are also one seat licenses.

    The other two are Enterprise, which is simply a full install sold for multiple seats, used by schools and businesses.
    And OEM the one you're referring to. It stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer and it's sold to companies like HP or Dell as a full version with no support from MS, it's tied to the machine it comes on and can not be transferred. End users (us) can buy a OEM license as well as long as they buy one piece of hardware, even a mouse. For those cases MS considers either replacing a motherboard or a number of hardware changes to count as a new machine and the license no longer valid. But again the servers seem to reset eventually and then it'll activate. If not you can often get a phone activation at least once.

    It sounds like Windows 10 that will be free is an upgrade version. So you can pretty much do anything you want as long as it's only running on one machine and it was installed on a machine running an earlier version of Windows.

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