One of the most common reasons to install a new motherboard is that either you’re having issues with the previous one or you want to enhance the performance of your PC by upgrading to a faster CPU.
But one question bugs the minds of most users, and that is, do you have to reinstall Windows with a new motherboard?
We’ve taken the time to research the topic and come up with reasons and explanations that can put an end to your search for answers.
Do I Have To Reinstall Windows With a New Motherboard?
Your Windows OS is installed on your HDD or SDD. So when you change your PC motherboard and reattach your drive, Windows should continue running as usual.
Nonetheless, that is not always the case, and things can go south quickly. Mostly, you’ll run into Windows license activation issues because Microsoft considers a motherboard upgrade as a new PC.
OEM and Volume licenses expire with the motherboard, leaving you with only one option, reinstall Windows and activate it with a new license.
However, a Retail license does not tie your Windows license key to a single installation. Therefore, you can replace your motherboard and reactivate Windows without reinstalling it.
Before changing your motherboard, type
slmgr -dli in the Command Prompt to see which type of license is installed on your PC. If you have a Retail license, proceed with the following methods to active Windows without reinstalling it.
Changing Motherboard Without Reinstalling Windows
Changing motherboard without reinstalling Windows requires a Retail license and performing reactivation. Our step-by-step instructions will guide you and save your time for the whole process.
We’ll also discuss using your older Windows OEM license to activate Windows 10/11 on the motherboard. So, here are the two methods to replace your motherboard without reinstalling Windows.
Method #1: Linking Windows and Microsoft Account
Before changing your motherboard, you can link Windows with your Microsoft account and skip reinstalling the operating system.
- From your desktop, go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Activation > Add a Microsoft Account.
- Next, select Add an account and sign in to your Microsoft account.
- Wait for the confirmation message that’ll say, “Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account.”
- Finally, change your motherboard, turn on your PC, and sign in to your Microsoft account to continue using the same OS.
Method #2: Running Windows License Troubleshooter
After changing the motherboard, you can run Windows License Troubleshooter for new hardware detection and resolve activation issues.
- From your desktop, go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Activation.
- If you see the “Windows is not activated” message, click on Troubleshoot at the bottom.
- Next, choose the “I changed hardware on this device recently” option and use your Microsoft credentials to sign in.
- Finally, select your device and wait for Windows to activate on the new motherboard.
Activating Windows With an Older License
If you have upgraded to Windows 10/11 from your existing Windows 7/8/8.1 OEM license, Microsoft automatically converts older licenses into digital licenses for the new operating system. Thus, you can activate the upgraded Windows on the new motherboard by using your old product key.
- Select Activation under Settings > Update & Security.
- Click Update product key and then Change product key.
- Now, type in the Windows 7/8/8.1 OEM license key and hit Next to activate Windows.
In this guide about do you have to reinstall windows with a new motherboard, we’ve addressed linking Retail Windows license to Microsoft account and utilizing the Windows License Troubleshooter. We also discussed using an older Windows OEM license to activate upgraded Windows on the new motherboard.
Hopefully, this guide answered all your questions, and you can now successfully replace your motherboard and activate Windows without reinstalling it.
Frequently Asked Questions
If your Windows Retail key does not support a digital license, you’ll see Product Key on the Windows Activation page instead of Add a Microsoft account option. In this case, you can only use your product key to activate Windows after replacing your motherboard.
Microsoft stores the records of those product keys purchased from their online Store. So when you buy your digital copy of Windows from the Microsoft Store, you can find the Microsoft account product key in the purchase confirmation email.