Microsoft has confirmed that users can no longer use old Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 keys to activate Windows 11. And that applies not only to Canary builds, as it was last month—from now on, only genuine Windows 11 and 10 keys can activate your computer running Microsoft's latest operating system.
Microsoft started closing the loophole in September 2023 when it announced that the upgrade path from Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 to Windows 10 (and subsequently Windows 11 if running on compatible hardware) is now closed. It only took Microsoft more than eight years to end the offer initially planned to run for just 12 months.
A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that old Windows 7 and 8/8.1 keys are now "fully blocked" from activating clean Windows 11 installs. That includes the current stable release, version 22H2, not just preview builds from the Canary Channel.
However, systems that have been activated using old Windows 7 and 8/8.1 license keys will remain supported and activated. Fortunately, Microsoft will not deactivate your system for using the offer it should have closed years ago.
Since Windows 11 is still a free upgrade from Windows 10, license keys for the latter can still activate Windows 11. Microsoft's latest operating system is struggling to gain more users, as shown by monthly stats reports from Statcounter and similar companies, so it makes sense for Microsoft to keep Windows 11 free for existing Windows 10 users.
If you plan to build a new PC or purchase one without an operating system, buying a Windows 11 key is now your only option unless you are willing to source old Windows 10 keys using third-party marketplaces. You can get Windows 11 Home from the Microsoft Store for $139, while the Pro edition will set you back $199.
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