Have Windows product key but unable to activate Windows 10 after upgrade from Win 7

Ron Sipherd 241 Reputation points

A couple of days ago I upgraded a Lenovo laptop from Windows 7 to Windows 10. The process itself was quite smooth; but since then I have been unable to activate the new version.
Settings | Activation returns "Windows reported that no product key was found on your device. Error code 0xC004F213"
But Settings | About does report a product ID ending in "blahblahOEM; which is natural since Win 7 was pre-installed on the unit which I purchased directly from the manufacturer.
Activation Troubleshooting reports "We weren't able" etc.
I tried "Change product key"; but the data input panel will not accept any input and reports "Some of these characters can't appear in the product key".
(Not to give away any secrets, but he first character is a numeric digit which is surely not illegal; besides, it reports that for the first keystroke, whatever I type.)
How can I input the product key for this device?
I see other similar queries answered with "revert to Win 7 and verify your product key"; but the validity of the key has never been an issue, have done all the patches etc. with no trouble for years, so I don't think that is the problem here.
How can I input the product key for this device and proceed with activation of Win 10?

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A Microsoft operating system that runs on personal computers and tablets.
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Windows 10 Setup
Windows 10: A Microsoft operating system that runs on personal computers and tablets.Setup: The procedures involved in preparing a software program or application to operate within a computer or mobile device.
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  1. Ron Sipherd 241 Reputation points

    End users can upgrade for free from:
    Windows 7 > 10

    That is not what I was told when I asked that specific question at the "Windows Activation Center".
    I decided this issue has no easy resolution, and is not worth spending endless more hours on.
    Have uninstalled the "unactivated" Windows 10 and returned to Windows 7.

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  1. Limitless Technology 39,461 Reputation points

    Hello @Ron Sipherd

    OEM keys only activates OEM products. You can't activate a regular Windows 10 with a OEM license.

    You can read more about it in a previous Question in the forums: https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/activating-windows-10-using-a-windows-7-oem-key/8db2f19f-0768-4aee-9c7b-ad9fef8d0d97?auth=1

    About how to manage license keys in the computer, I would recommend doing it from command line (as Administrator) with the SLMGR commands: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/previous-versions/windows/it-pro/windows-server-2012-r2-and-2012/dn502540(v=ws.11)

    Hope this helps in your case,

    Best regards,

  2. Ron Sipherd 241 Reputation points

    You can't activate a regular Windows 10 with a OEM license.

    So then the answer is "it can't be done"; Win 10 might find a product key but disallows it, is what I understand you are saying.
    That seems a little surprising, given the large numbers of Win 7 systems that came with the OS pre-installed; they could not be upgraded to Win 10 in that case.

    BTW, that second link returns a 404 Not Found error.

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  3. Andreas Baumgarten 99,376 Reputation points MVP

    There was a one year timeframe ending in July 2016 for free upgrading from Windows 7 (and 8/8.1) to Windows 10.
    Release date of Windows 10 was in July 2015 and free upgrading was possible until Juli 2016.
    5 years later it looks like this free upgrade is not working officially anymore.

    (If the reply was helpful please don't forget to upvote and/or accept as answer, thank you)

    Andreas Baumgarten

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  4. Ron Sipherd 241 Reputation points

    Thanks to everyone for their responses.
    As near as I can figure it out, the free-upgrade window is closed.
    But MS doesn't say so; it lets you download and upgrade, but not activate Win 10 by not deliberately finding the product key and refusing to accept any.
    Result is, the only avenue is to purchase a license.
    Or replace an 8-year old laptop, which is probably the best idea.
    Have reverted to Win 7 while I think this out.

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