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Getting started - activation issues


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so, just to sanity check all of this I got a trial going, downloaded the windows installation media from Microsoft, created a master image (w/ patches, etc) and converted it to the windows image file.  Got it onto a USB drive.  Unpacked a new laptop that has windows 10 pro on it.  Stuck the usb drive in and booted it.  Installed in a flash and seems ok.....but it wont activate.  It says that it couldn't find a valid digital license.  Now, it's a brand new laptop that certainly has a license.  I've seen this problem before when the MS activation servers aren't available and it's resolved by waiting.

My question - should I just wait or is this caused b/c I'm not using a VL image?  I'm just trying to test and don't want to spend money and time dealing with MS if the product doesn't do what I want it to do.....

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Technically, Microsoft does require you to be using an image created with VL media, with a VL key to deploy Windows. We don't enforce this, as we simply pass the key that you specify (or no key) to Windows. Many customers rely on the OEM/sigital license with success, and others find that is doesn't work, depending on the installation media used. This particular issue seems to be more common looking at past couple of months. 

Did you create your Windows installation ISO using this tool?: Download Windows 10 (microsoft.com)

We have a KB article that explains reimaging rights in better detail here: What SmartDeploy Users Should Know About Microsoft Reimaging Rights : Support Center

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I did use that tool.  I've read that linked article and the others that are linked in but find the language to be....muddled.  In my research, the prevailing thought seems to be that you simply need one VL key to do reimaging but other articles that I see indicate you need a VL key for every machine you reimage.  In our case, all of the computers we're going to reimage come with OEM licenses.  Is a single VL key sufficient?

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Yes, you'd have your image built on the VL media, and the 1 VL key. As long as your image matches the SKU that your OEM license is for, you don't need to re-purchase a license for that machine and it counts as a valid license. Your the vendor for your volume license should be able to square this all up for you. 

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