Activating obsolete Windows versions (XP and 7)


Every Windows version released this century has had some form of product activation that depends upon Microsoft’s servers or other intervention. As Windows 7 approaches the end of its extended support, I am curious whether it remains possible to activate unused Windows 7 product keys on new hardware. I would be interested in installing such onto a new device before January 2020, as a non-networked (after activation) computer for the purpose of running legacy software. Would this, as I presume, indeed stay feasible before this year is out?

I would also like to know whether something similar can be done for Windows XP, which earlier this year saw the end of its last variation’s official support. I have two computers with that OS, unused since 2010 and 2012 and neither still in working order, though I have still got their product keys, and would like to know whether these keys could be transferred, either to separate hardware or to virtualised XP mode in Windows 7. I have heard that as late as 2017, Microsoft would still activate XP keys, and seeing examples like this of building new computers to run older OS makes me think the answer should indeed be yes. It would still be welcome to confirm this, though.

(As this is a hobby project, out of my interest in software preservation, not any imminent need, I have this in Windows instead of General or Computer Help. Feel free to recategorise if needs be.)


I seem to have found my answer through some further research. From Microsoft’s Web site, it appears that Windows 7 can still be activated. As there is no reason to suspect this would be revoked while support is ongoing, this part of my question is answered.

Meanwhile, for the XP computers, I would be more interested in trying to restore them to their proper condition. The laptop last used in 2012 may have a hardware issue, while the desktop from 2010 is missing its plug and, if memory serves, has malware. I may see whether I can get either of these to work, and these might be subjects of future posts. I shall refrain from trying to transfer their keys for now.