I have bought a Lenovo IdeaPad 310 which came preinstalled with Windows 10 Home, but also came with loads of junk on it which I would like to properly clean by reinstalling Windows. I anyway have a valid .iso file to install but from my past experiences with OEM Windows licenses, I am quite sure it will not activate properly. Am I wrong, and if not, how can I make it work?

  • Why not uninstall the bloatware? The reinstallation will probably work, but why not uninstall the junk first? – Andrew Li Dec 25 '16 at 1:01
  • every time I try the uninstall method, either the machine becomes unstable or something else fails - .net, VB runtimes - or just a stodgy startup. – JohnnyVegas Dec 25 '16 at 1:11
  • You don't need a key. Your installation will simply automatically activate. When prompted for a key just skip that step. If you are that concerned about it just use the Refresh feature and choose not to keep anything when prompted – Ramhound Dec 25 '16 at 1:16
  • It will only re-activate if the machine has it's key hard coded, otherwise you will have to take note before wiping. – JohnnyVegas Dec 25 '16 at 1:19
  • @JohnnyVegas that is false; as I point out; OEM Windows 10 devices use a digital entitlement; the installation environment automatically detects the key on Windows 8 devices because of the ACPI table. You only need the key if you have the physical Retail Windows 10 license even then it won't be required if you link it to a MS account. – Ramhound Dec 25 '16 at 1:46
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Before you continue, I suggest you remove the bloatware by the Control Panel and uninstalling the junk. That is faster and easier, with less potential for problems, but the steps for reinstallation are as follows:

Before you do anything, backup valuable data, if any, on some form of media (i.e. USB) so you can move it onto the reinstalled Windows.

  1. Download the appropriate ISO file from Microsoft and burn it to a CD or use it with a bootable USB.
  2. (Optional if you have no internet) Download all the appropriate drivers for your machine and save them on media for later access.
  3. Locate the product key on your machine. It is usually under the laptop on a sticker, and if not, use special software to locate it. This will be used during the reinstallation. Note that PCs sometimes auto-activate if it is in the BIOS so this step is not needed if this is case.
  4. Boot from the bootable media (disc or USB). Continue as usual through the installation, and when the partitions screen comes up, format the current Windows partition and install in there. (The Recovery partition can be deleted, but I recommend keeping it so if anything goes wrong you can restore to factory settings). If the key doesn't work you may need to contact Microsoft and activate over phone.
  5. After installation, install the drivers and run Windows Update and you're done.
  • I will probably take a system image backup on case the prices you described doesn't work, but that seems a reasonable solution. I will try it when I have a chance, then let you know. – SoupSpoon Dec 25 '16 at 5:41
  • It did work; thanks. Now have a different, completely different problem but have posted separate question – SoupSpoon Dec 27 '16 at 8:53

Grab the activation key with a key finder - ProduKey is one example - Download the official MS win10 USB install wizard to create an installer. May be worth noting down or screenshot your device manager for any driver issues you may have. That's all you need to do.

Remember to have external storage/usb keys handy to backup stuff you want to keep and to keep drivers on - Some machines boot with no network devices available so you won't be able to go online to download.

Links for win10 installer https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/windows10

  • Getting the activation key on a Windows 10 product is a pointless endeavor. The author's device uses a digital entitlement, this means, the product key that does exist within the ACPI table is only a formality. furthermore the tool suggested doesn't retrieve the key from the ACPI table and is sort of useless – Ramhound Dec 25 '16 at 1:22

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