Windows 11 activation update: Microsoft finally closes free loophole, shifts focus to genuine keys

Priya Walia

windows 11 desktop

Microsoft has finally closed the door on the years-long deal that allowed users with Windows 7 and Windows 8 keys to upgrade to Windows 11 for free. Last month, the tech giant announced that the installation path from Windows 7 to 11 would no longer be supported.

However, users found that their old OS keys were still granting them access to the latest operating system. Now, Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 7 keys are completely blocked from clean installs of Windows 11, Verge reported.

The free upgrade program was initially introduced in 2015 alongside the release of Windows 10. Even those who had acquired Windows through less conventional means were invited to upgrade their software.

Originally intended to be available for one year, the upgrade program quietly extended to two years due to loopholes found on Microsoft’s Accessibility Site. From there, the timeline continued to stretch with each passing year.

After running for eight years, the upgrade path from Windows 7 to 11 has finally been discontinued by the software company. Users trying to activate a Windows 7 key on Windows 11 will encounter an error message saying, “We are unable to activate Windows on this device due to the absence of a valid digital license or product key.”

If you upgraded your computer from Windows 7/8 to Windows 11 or used an older key to activate your Windows, your activation status will remain the same. Your digital license should continue to work as before.

Although the option to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 for free is available, many users have decided to stick with the former, which is still a popular choice among fans.