Tutorial Windows: Clean Install Windows 10: The Activation Myth

Not everyone is fully satisfied with Microsoft’s latest Operating System, and truth be told, it should have stayed a bit longer under development. Even setting it up from scratch can be a bit of a hassle.

For the past couple of days, words are traveling about a sneaky method you can use to clean install Windows 10 and activate it with little effort, and not having to upgrade from an older OS. We decided to put the method to the test and see whether or not Windows 10 gets activated without having to provide the activation key.

Leaving small talk aside, we’re going to follow the process step-by-step, with some extra measures taken so that Microsoft can’t get in touch with your PC until you’re done.

Important note: Before trying anything on your personal computer, back up important files, folders, or whatever it is you can’t easily recover.

The hypothesis

As put together from the source, this is what you need to do in order to get Windows 10 activated after a fresh install:

Step 1: Grab a Windows 10 DVD or ISO image. Choose the correct OS version and system architecture.

Step 2: You need to access the content of the ISO. Extract it, mount it to a virtual drive, or burn to DVD.

Step 3: Whatever you do, don’t run Setup. Access the ISO content and go to F:Windowsx(64)sources and identify the gatherosstate.exe file.

Note: In the step above, F: is the drive letter, while x(64) the system architecture, and it can also be x(86). Make sure to choose the one you need.

Step 4: Copy the gatherosstate.exe file on the desktop and run it. Once done, a file named GenuineTicket.xml needs to appear.

Step 5: Keep the newly-created XML file somewhere safe, preferably on a USB Flash drive.

Step 6: Perform a fresh install of Windows 10, without upgrading. Also press Skip when you’re asked for the product key.

Step 7: When Windows 10 is ready to be used, copy GenuineTicket.xml to C:ProgramDataMicrosoftClipSVCGenuineTicket.

Note: The ProgramData folder is hidden by default, so press View, and choose to reveal Hidden Items.

Step 8: Restart your computer so that changes take effect. When back to the desktop, press Win + Pause|Break to bring up System Info and check whether or not it got activated.

In theory, this works just fine, without having to go through the troublesome upgrade process. However, you need to back up important files, because a fresh install most likely disposes of them.

The demonstration

We prepared a fresh partition where nothing is installed, not even a single file copied ever since it was created. It seems like the perfect place to start off with a clean install of Windows.

Grabbing the Media Creation Tool to prepare an installation disk for Windows 10, a USB Flash drive was used.

Before running the installer, Internet was completely cut off, so that Microsoft didn’t get a chance to interfere during setup.

When asked what files to keep, needless to say that we opted for Nothing, since that’s the whole purpose of a clean install.

Setup starts by getting required files ready, taking only a little while. In the meantime, we used mounted the same Windows 10 ISO used for installation on a PC fitted with and activated Windows 8.1 of the same type, with all updates deployed. Here, the gatherosstate.exe file was used in order to generate the GenuineTicket.xml file. It was then moved on a USB drive.

After Windows 10 is done installing files, make sure to pull out the USB Flash drive, or eject the DVD when asked to restart. A slider is also present and shows how much time is left until automatic restart.

Windows states that It’s time to enter the Product Key right after it restarts. Choose to Do This Later from the bottom left corner.

There’s still some system configurations to be made, and this is what you encounter in the process. Note that there’s no active Internet connection for now.

All of these options were turned off, but it’s only for some extra precautions.

Get Going Fast:

Customize Settings:

-> personalize your speech, typing, and inking, input by sending contacts and calendar details, along with other associated input data to Microsoft;

-> send typing and inking data to Microsoft to improve recognition and suggestion platform;

-> let apps use your advertising ID for experiences across apps.


-> let Windows and apps request your location, including location history, and send ms and trusted partners some location data to improve location services.

Browser and protection:

-> use SmartScreen online service to help protect against malicious content and downloads in sites loaded by Windows browsers and store apps;

-> use page prediction to improve reading, speed up browsing, and make your overall experience better in Windows browsers, your browsing data will be sent to Microsoft.

Connectivity and error reporting:

-> automatically connect to suggested open hotspots, not all networks are secure;

-> automatically connect to networks shared by your contacts;

-> send error and diagnostic info to Microsoft.

When all this is done, you’re asked about Who’s going to use this PC, and you can create a local account, even without a password, just as we did. Shortly after, we managed to reach the desktop, and hurried to copy the GenuineTicket.xml file to the designated folder.

The conclusion

However, until Windows connects to the Internet at least one time, you can freely use the Personalize menu, which isn’t available otherwise, but Windows is still not activated. We restarted the PC only to find the same result.

At this point, the network cable got plugged in, to see if the trick is successful. For a fair amount of time, Windows services couldn’t quite detect that Internet was active, although we could go online. This enabled us to take advantage of the Personalize panel, with no activation watermark, or anything to mention this, other than it couldn’t connect.

A few system restarts later and it looked like it worked. The ticket file was still inside its folder, but by the time we started to scream Eureka, everything backfired, noticing this after changing (again and again) the wallpaper and taskbar color.

Tests didn’t end here, as we tried to update Windows, with sadly the same success rate. The GenuineTicket.xml file was also copied on other existing Windows 10 installations, with both local and Microsoft accounts. Unfortunately, our luck was close to zero.

Disclaimer: Given the results on a few different computers, we might not be convinced that the method is fully functional. On the other hand, we’re not pointing the finger at anybody, since other details can have a saying in the overall process, and there’s a high chance we either skipped a step or performed one wrong.

A few last words

Only a month has gone by and Windows 10 is considerably gaining ground, but that alone doesn’t make it a better OS. There’s still a lot more work to be done both on upgrading from an older version and on installing from scratch. The only thing we can do is sit back and wait for a super-update, without trying stuff that make matters worse than they already are.

You can find the original Reddit thread here.

Already tried this on your PC? Let us know if it worked.