Windows 10 activation

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Activation verifies that your copy of Windows is genuine and has not been used on more devices than allowed by the Microsoft software license terms.

Checking the activation status

First, find out if Windows 10 has been activated and linked to your Microsoft account.

It’s important to link your Microsoft account to the Windows 10 license on your device. By linking your Microsoft account to a digital license, you can reactivate Windows with the Activation Troubleshooter whenever there is a significant hardware change.

Checking the activation status

To check the activation status in Windows 10, select the Start button, then select SettingsUpdates and security, and then click Activation . Your activation status will be displayed next to Activation.

The activation page will display one of the following activation status messages:

Activation status Description
Windows has been activated
  • Activated.
  • Microsoft account is not linked.
  • Follow the instructions in Linking your Microsoft account .
Windows has been activated using a digital license
  • Activated.
  • Your Microsoft account is not linked to the digital license.
  • Follow the instructions in Linking your Microsoft account .
Windows has been activated using a digital license linked to your Microsoft account
  • Activated.
  • Your Microsoft account is already linked to the digital license.
Windows has not been activated
  • Not activated.
  • An error message will appear informing you of the reasons for the failure.
  • You may need to purchase Windows 10 to activate.

 

If you want to purchase a license for your device, see „Purchasing a Windows 10 License”.

Linking your Microsoft account

To link your Microsoft account, follow these steps:

  1. Log in as an administrator to add your Microsoft account. To make sure you are using an administrator account, select the Start button, then Settings > Accounts > Your information. In the area with your name you will see the information Administrator . If you’re not an administrator, see Create a user or local administrator account .
  2. Confirm that the administrator account is also a Microsoft account by checking that an email address is displayed above the Administrator information . If an email address is displayed, it is a Microsoft account. Otherwise, the user signed in with a local account. If you don’t already have a Microsoft account, see How to create a new Microsoft account .
  3. After confirming that you are the administrator and using a Microsoft account, return to the Activation page , select Add account , enter your Microsoft account and password, then select Sign in .

Activation methods

Depending on how you obtained Windows 10, you need a digital license or a 25-character product key to activate it. Without one of these items, you will not be able to activate the device.

  • A digital license (called digital entitlement in Windows 10, version 1511) is an activation method in Windows 10 that does not require you to enter a product key.
  • A product key is a 25-character code that is used to activate Windows. What you see is PRODUCT KEY: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX.

After determining which activation method you are using, follow the steps in Activating Using a Digital License or Activating Using a Product Key, as appropriate .

Which activation method am I using, digital license or product key?

The activation method depends on how you obtained your copy of Windows 10.

How to get Windows 10 Activation method
Upgrade to Windows 10 for free on an eligible genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 device. Digital license

If you associate or log in to a Microsoft account, or associate your MSA account with a digital license, this is your MSA account that contains the digital license.

Purchased an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro from the Microsoft Store app and successfully activated Windows 10 Digital license

If you purchased from the Microsoft Store, a confirmation email was sent to confirm your purchase. This e-mail address (MSA) contains the digital license.

You are a Windows Insider and have upgraded to the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build on an eligible device running an earlier version of Windows and Windows 10 Preview activated. Digital license

The e-mail address that was used for Windows Insider Logon will likely be an MSA with a digital license.

Purchase of genuine Windows 10 from the Microsoft Store app Digital license

If you purchased from the Microsoft Store, a confirmation email was sent to confirm your purchase. This e-mail address (MSA) contains the digital license.

Buying a computer that comes with Windows 10 Product key

Find the Product Key on the device packaging or on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) that came with your device.

Purchase a boxed copy of Windows 10 from an authorized reseller Product key

You can find your product key on a label inside your Windows 10 box.

Purchased a digital copy of Windows 10 from an authorized reseller Product key

You can find your product key in the confirmation email you received after purchasing Windows 10 or in a digital locker accessible through the retailer’s website.

Your device will be granted a digital license for Windows 10 based on the correct product key entered.

You have a Volume Licensing agreement that includes Windows 10 or an MSDN subscription Product key

The product key is available through the program’s web portal.

Purchased a new or refurbished Windows 10 device Product key

The product key is preinstalled on the device, included in the device packaging, or in the form of a card or Certificate of Authenticity (COA) that is included with the device.

If you purchased a refurbished computer, the vendor of the computer, not Microsoft, must provide the product key.

Purchased from the Microsoft Store online Product key

The product key can be found in the confirmation email that includes your order history.

Purchasing a Windows 10 license

If you don’t have a product key or digital license, you can purchase a Windows 10 digital license after installation is complete. Here is the appropriate procedure:

  1. Select the Start button .
  2. Select Settings  > Updates and security   > Activation  .
  3. Select Go to Store .

This will open the Microsoft Store app where you can purchase a Windows 10 digital license.

Activation with a product key

The product key is a 25-character code that looks like this:

     PRODUCT KEY: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX

During the installation, you will be prompted for a product key. Once installed, you can also hit the Start buttonand then select  Settings > Updates and security  >  Activation > Update product key > Change product key.