Windows Home to Pro Upgrades via CSP Perpetual Licenses

Windows Home to Pro Upgrades via CSP Perpetual Licenses


The content of this article is based on limited Microsoft official documentation, information provided to rhipe via Microsoft Support cases, and our own experience in dealing with such issues with our Indirect Reseller partners. It may not be 100% accurate or complete, and may be subject to change as Microsoft policies and actions change over time. It is provided without warranty, express or implied and rhipe will not be held liable for any damages for the advice provided in this document. We also encourage Microsoft to provide similar official documentation to all Partners and Customers to assist with this issue. 

Throughout this article, the Windows version is not specified, however refers to either Windows 10 or Windows 11. Earlier versions are not supported.

Purchase of Perpetual software from Microsoft provides a license for the current version of the software at the time of purchase, and a downgrade right to the immediately previous version only. As an example, purchasing a Windows 11 Pro upgrade allows for both Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro as a downgrade right, or Windows 10 (or 11) Home to Windows 11 Pro.

Accessing Software Keys & Downloads

Please refer to the Microsoft 365 Knowledgebase documentation on accessing keys and downloads after purchasing products from the CSP Perpetual program:

I cannot download the keys

Partners are not able to access keys via their Delegated Access to tenants. You must log into the tenant directly with a Global Admin account of the tenant. The above KB article from Microsoft clearly states this. If you are using an account from your own partner tenant then you will not be able to access these keys.

I can no longer download the software

Software downloads are provided for a limited amount of time. It is up to Indirect Reseller partners to save and maintain these installers. You may be able to access installers via other locations such as Volume Licensing Service Center, but please remember to only use official installation sources as others may contain malware or other security issues which may put your customers at risk.

The Partner Support teams has dealt with dozens of tickets from our partners who always assure us that they are accessing via a Global Admin account yet they cannot access the keys within the tenant. 

The following account types are not Global Admin, even if you have the role:
  1. Using a Delegated Admin Permission such as accessing the tenant from Partner Center.
  2. Your own Partner tenant as a guest in the customer tenant, which is then granted the Global Admin role.
These methods of access have limitations applied to them, as well as a separate context of access. These restrictions and context mean that you cannot use it for certain tasks, and accessing software delivered to the tenant via programs such as CSP Perpetual is one of these restrictions.

rhipe has never been able to confirm any case where one of our Reseller Partners have not had access to the keys when using the correct Global Admin account that is from the customer tenant. If you are having issues, you need to double-check which account you are using, and if the account is from your own tenant rather than your customer's , that is what you need to change.

Limitations of Upgrades to Windows Pro

  1. The Windows licensing provided by Microsoft to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as HP, Dell and Lenovo for inclusion into products such as prebuilt Desktops and Workstations, Laptops, Mini-PCs and Tablets is now provided through the Key Management System (KMS) for licensing.
  2. These OEM software keys are OEM:DM type. This can be checked by opening a command prompt on the affected machine and running slmgr /dlv in a command prompt, and checking the Product Key Channel field in the popup window.
  3. The keys provided through the CSP Perpetual program are Multiple Activation Keys (MAK), specifically MAK:Volume keys. These are the key type that you would have known from Retail software and Volume Licensing.
  4. You must be online with an internet connection in order for activation to be successful. 
  5. There is no direct key upgrade from OEM:DM keys to MAK:Volume keys. This has been confirmed by Microsoft staff multiple times in support cases.
  6. The keys are valid, and will work though either an intermediate key change, In-Place Upgrade, or full reinstall.
  7. Escalation to Microsoft will not be entertained unless a full reinstall via Windows Pro media installation has been completed.

If your upgrade key fails to activate 

There are four options available to resolve the issue of your upgrade key not working:
  1. Attempt to apply the key via commandline rather than the Key Upgrade app in the System Settings;
  2. Use an Intermediate key which will allow the move from OEM:DM and then to MAK:Volume;
  3. Upgrade via an In-Place Upgrade process; or if that fails
  4. Perform a full reinstall from scratch with Windows Pro media, such as a USB Drive or DVD created with the Windows Media Creation Tool.

Commandline key change

The first step in attempting the key change that fails within the Settings > System > About >  Change your Product Key or upgrade your version of Windows process and you have confirmed that you have internet connectivity, is to instead attempt to use the commandline instead. You should have already checked the existing key type via slmgr /dlv and if that shows as an OEM:DM key then the commandline is unlikely to fix this issue. If it is not an OEM:DM key, then please attempt the following:

  1. slmgr /ipk [the provided upgrade key]

    slmgr /ato

Once this is complete, reboot the device and then again check the key type via commandline with the slmgr /dlv command. If the Product key Channel field value has changed to MAK:Volume then the upgrade has been successful and Windows Updates may need to be run.

If it fails, please move on to the next steps below.

Intermediate Key upgrade

In cases where the machine is not able to be wiped and reinstalled from scratch, partner with either Windows 10 Pro or Windows 11 Pro keys available to them from other programs or products may wish to use these keys as an intermediate step. Neither rhipe nor Microsoft will be able to provide any intermediate keys where the upgrade keys fail to activate.

From rhipe's experience, we have found that using keys from sources such as Visual Studio or MSDN provide an intermediate step which then allows the purchased upgrade key to apply successfully and activate. There may also be other keys that allow this such as your Partner Benefit (Internal Usage Rights) keys provided as a part of your Silver or Gold partner competency or even an Action Pack, however rhipe have not tested these keys as working.

Advice from Microsoft is that full retail keys should also work, but rhipe has not tested these or had partners report success with them. 

Apply the keys via the Settings > System > About >  Change your Product Key or upgrade your version of Windows process, or commandline process as described above. If this is successful, reboot and repeat the process with your purchased upgrade key.

In-Place Upgrade

Microsoft advice is that if you are unable to change the key manually, then an In-Place Upgrade (IPU) should be attempted. This forces the install of Windows Pro, which you can then apply the key to after the upgrade.

IPU Instructions from Microsoft can be found as a video from their Microsoft Helps Youtube channel:

Forcing the installation of a different version of Windows should render the existing key as invalid, and you should be able to reactivate with the purchased upgrade key. If this fails, you will need to back up any user data and move to a destructive full reinstall (format & install from installation media).

Full reinstall from installation media

As a full reinstall is a destructive process, if the device has user data on it then you should be backing this up locally, or moving all user data to cloud storage like OneDrive so it can be recovered.

Where all prior attempts fail, the final option is to reinstall the correct version of Windows directly from an official source via Boot Media. Today, that generally means creating a USB Flash Drive with a Windows Pro install image from the Windows Media Creation Tool.

Links to the tool:
  1. Windows 10 (select 'Download Tool Now')
  2. Windows 11 (select 'Download Tool Now')
Installation should be done via a bootable media install, formatting the existing Windows drive partition, and installing back to that partition. You may delete all partitions if you have a need to do so and remove any OEM recovery or software partitions. This may require you download device drivers from the OEM Support website later to get device functionality.
For activation to be successful, the device must be online and connected to the internet. Some network adapters may not have a compatible network drive included in the Windows installation, so will not be able to get online after a full reinstall. This particularly affects Wifi-only devices, as most wired network ports will be able to use the generic Ethernet driver included in Windows. Please back up a copy of that driver before formatting, or download a compatible driver from the OEM Support website for your device and install that immediately after Windows installation, connect to then internet and then try activation.

A reminder that Windows Installation should only done via media created from official channels, such as the Windows Media Creation tool or ISO images from the Volume Licensing Service Center. Using non-official sources puts the device at risk of being installed with spyware or malware and further compromises. 

All activation attempts fail

In the rare occurrence that all methods fail, we are able to escalate this request to Microsoft. Please be aware that the team responsible for Software Activation team has a high case load and support requests may not be responded to in normal SLAs.

All escalation requests are provided to our partners and their employees only, and you are not able to nominate an end-customer contact for such cases. We require you to provide a technical contact who will respond to requests promptly. If that contact is unable to respond due to workload or absence, you will need to provide another contact who is able to respond instead. A lack of response may result in case closure.

To raise an escalation request, please contact and provide the customer name and domain shown in PRISM Portal, a summary of actions taken, screenshots (if able) or other logs that show activation attempts, results of slmgr /dlv commands, and technical contact details (Name, phone, email).

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