Question How to reset (reset again) a Windows 10 desktop?

Aug 20, 2020
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I have a Dell XPS 8700 that I want to sell. I was able to reset Windows to factory setting the first time. But I put in my MS account email so I could download all the upgrades.

Then, I realize the new owner may not like to use my MS account when they acquire my machine.

I tried to reset the machine again, but it kept asking me for the installation or restoration disk. I didn't have to use any installation disk (I don't have it because this Windows 10 was and upgrade from W8 that came with the machine).

How do I go back an re-reset this machine so the buyer can pick it up and put his/her own MS account to take total ownership of the machine?

Or, how would you handle this problem?
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Use the method outlined in my guide at the following link, and when you get to the part where it asks you to connect to the internet or enter a password, decline, and skip that part. It will allow you to continue. That way it does not connect to the internet and creates only a local account instead of activating via your Microsoft account.

The only problem though, is that since you have already attached the ID string for that machine to yourself via a Microsoft account, if that device connects to the internet at all it is going to automatically activate using the digital entitlement already assigned to it when you activated via Microsoft account previously. The only way to ensure that doesn't happen it to FIRST attach that digital entitlement to a different or new device so that when that device connects to the internet it sees that your digital entitlement is in use and doesn't automatically assign it to that device.

 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
That will not disable or UN-activate the already activated digital entitlement. Once a board is activated via a digital entitlement or product key entry, it is permanently with that device until you've moved the digital entitlement or license to a different product. It's the OS installation that is linked via valid or not valid activation, I believe, not the account itself. If it was just the account, then anybody could log into any not legitimate Windows installation with their credentials and instantly make it a legitimate installation, and that isn't how it works. Well, it is, but it's not.
 
Aug 20, 2020
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Create a new administrator account for new owner. Log in from the new account. Then delete your previous user account from the computer (the one that is linked to MS account).
I think this is the least painful approach.
I first login using the original account I created.
Then I added a generic user "Buyer" with a simple password (no MS account).
Now when I boot up the machine and login using the Buyer account, it will take me to new setup.
Great.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
That works then, but, I'd go to the system settings, click on Activation and see what it says. If it shows the system is activated, which it probably will due to the ID string, then you're still giving away your Windows license AND it will be attached to you still unless you relinquish it. If you're ok with that in the even that is what it turns out to show, then it's a non-issue. If not, then you'll want to address it as I suggested.
 
Reactions: Mandark
Aug 20, 2020
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That works then, but, I'd go to the system settings, click on Activation and see what it says. If it shows the system is activated, which it probably will due to the ID string, then you're still giving away your Windows license AND it will be attached to you still unless you relinquish it. If you're ok with that in the even that is what it turns out to show, then it's a non-issue. If not, then you'll want to address it as I suggested.
How else you're going sell a machine with Windows 10, which came with the original machine (upgraded from Windows 8)?

How do you relinquish the OS and still able to sell it with Windows 10?

What is the harm of leaving the account tied to my original purchase 6-7 years ago?

Thanks.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
License is absolutely transferable between machines, and the fact that you think it's not tells me that 100% you did not read any of the information at the links I posted above. Or so it would seem anyhow.

Let's try this one instead.

A "hardware change" means a new motherboard. A new motherboard means, either a new motherboard in the same machine or a different machine altogether. Windows has no way of knowing whether you've changed motherboards in your existing machine or built a new one entirely, and for our purposes they are the same exact thing ANYHOW, because the ID string for the machine is obtained from the motherboard on all modern versions of Windows 10. Further, using the Windows 7 or 8 product key for a clean installation of Windows 10 on systems that were not previously upgrade to Windows 10 already has consistently worked to activate Windows 10 on the new machine or OS installation as well.

You'll see some argument regarding "OEM" versus "Retail" versions of Windows, but so far I've not had ANY issues regardless of what type of license the original Windows product was.

You do not want to leave the product attached to YOUR MS account. For one thing, if that person ever needs to reinstall Windows because they changed motherboards or moved to a new system, you'd have to give THEM your MS account credentials in order for them to do so. Better to force them to do it right from the start.

I'd recommend, for any device you are going to sell to somebody, that you simply do the installation as a local account, do not connect to the internet, do not log in using your credentials, and leave the OS not activated. THEY can worry about obtaining a valid license OR logging in using their own MS account if they already have a valid license they wish to transfer.
 
Aug 20, 2020
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Although I admit that I haven't read the very detailed links you'd provided, I want to thank you for trying to help. I did read your last post, which is very informative and had corrected some of the misunderstanding I have about Microsoft OS license arrangement.

I thought that OS is tied to motherboard and is not transferable. I did switch out a defective MBO on my last built and there was no issue. I figured that MS is smart enough to know that it is the same model of MBO. But your information makes sense. In the next year or two when I upgrade the MBO from B450 to X570 for a even newer CPU, I guess I don't have to worry about buying another license.

In retrospect, I had a specific problem which I consider a nuisance, but not a game stopper. I was looking for an easy answer which was in creating a new new user without MS account and then delete the one I have already created (with a fictitious MS email). I wasn't going to spend a lot of time on a task that happens very rarely. As they said, the internet only holds viewer's attention for a split second. I guess that's true with my case.

I tried adding a users and giving it the Administrator's right and it works.

I have written up an instruction for my buyer so he/she can take care of the MS account issue. Here's my write up:

This is provided for your convenience. Make sure you are knowledgeable and comfortable with the procedure before you proceed.
To create your own account
Type "Add User" in the search
Click Add, edit, or remove other users
Click Email & account
Click Add a Microsoft Account
Following instruction to add your MS account to this device
Make sure you assign your account as Administrator
Turn off computer and turn it on again
Make sure you can login using your new MS account
I strongly suggest creating an image of your boot drive now.
You may delete my old MS account from your machine
 
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Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
In the next year or two when I upgrade the MBO from B450 to X570 for a even newer CPU, I guess I don't have to worry about buying another license.
This, is correct. So long as you attach the current license to YOU via your Microsoft account. Which is another reason you don't want to relinquish any system to another person with your credentials attached to the OS on that system. It could screw YOU in the long run, not just them.

Plus, you never know when you might want to use that extra license on another system, whether it's a tablet, laptop, desktop or whatever, but can't if you let it stay with the system you sell. I mean, you CAN, but then you de-activate the OS installed on their system, which might be a rude awakening for them. LOL.

Furthermore, your "process" for the buyer, still does not answer the question of whether when you remove YOUR account from the system, if it de-activates the OS or not. I guess I will have to test this out at some point on one of my test systems but I highly suspect that it does not do so. Once the OS has been activated, I'm pretty sure it remains activated regardless of any considerations regarding "account type" on that installation, even including deletion of the primary creator/administrator account. It's the "core" OS that gets activated, not the individual "accounts" you create IN the OS.

Now, I do think it's probably that if you send that system off, activated, and then use that license (Whether it is a Windows 7, 8 or 10 license originally) on another system and verify that you are the authorized holder of that account by logging into that system with your MS account credentials, it WILL deactivate the OS installation on that other system leaving them to go:

 
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USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
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I thought that OS is tied to motherboard and is not transferable.
The rules have been changed with Win 10. Specifically, after v1607.
But it also depends on how that license was obtained.

A Win 10 on a prebuilt system such as Dell or HP...maybe not.
But if it had been Upgraded from a previous 7/8/8.1, or a Win 10 that you purchased...transferable.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
I have, so far, moved five OEM licenses that came preinstalled on Dell and HP machines, to new machines. No problem. I know SOME have encountered issues doing that, I have not. I suspect those issues were on older, early versions of Windows 10. For all older OEM systems upgraded from Windows 7 or 8 to 10, non-issue.

I have ALSO managed, on three occasions, to upgrade tablets that came with various tablet versions of Windows 7, to full on Windows 10, by way of clean install using the original Windows 7 product key.

I am not sure why some people have had issues with some of the OEM licenses, but I haven't had any trouble at all so far.
 

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