Activate Windows 10

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Questions about activating Windows 10 is among the most often asked by users: how to activate system, where to get activation key for clean install Windows 10 on a PC, why the different users of the same keys to other such comments regularly to respond.

And now, two months after release, Microsoft released the official manual with information about the activation process of the new operating system, all the main points from it that are associated with the activation Windows 10 I will explain below. Update August 2016: added new information on activation including in case of change of equipment, the binding of the license to Microsoft account in Windows 10 1607.

Since last year, Windows 10 supports activation of Windows 7, 8.1 and 8. It was reported that activation will no longer work with the release of the Anniversary Update, but it continues to remain functional, including new images of 1607 during a clean install. You can use it as after installation, and clean installation with the latest images from the Microsoft website (see How to download Windows 10)

Updates activate Windows 10 in version 1607

Starting in August 2016, Windows 10 license (obtained through free upgrade from previous versions of the OS) is tied not only to the hardware ID (which is described in the next section of this material), but also to data Microsoft account if available.

This, according to Microsoft, should help solve problems with activation, including when a significant change in computer hardware (such as replacing the motherboard).

If activation was not successful in the options section of the «Update — «Activate» appears «Troubleshooting activation», which, it is assumed (not yet personally tested), will take into account your account, the license assigned to it, and the number of computers on which you use this license.

Binding activation to Microsoft account automatically to the «main» account on the computer, in this case, information about activation options Windows 10 version 1607 and later you will see a message stating that «Windows is activated with a digital license tied to your Microsoft account».

If you are using a local account, then below in the same settings section, you will be prompted to add your Microsoft account, which is tied to activation.

In addition, your local account is replaced with a Microsoft account, and the license is tied to it. The idea (here I do not guarantee), you can delete the Microsoft account then, the binding must remain in force, although the activation information, the information that the digital license is tied to the account disappears.

The digital license as the primary method of activation (Digital Entitlement)

The official information confirms what was known before: those users who free updated Windows 7 and 8.1 to Windows 10 or buy the upgrade in the Windows Store, as well as those who participate in the program Windows Insider, get the activation without the need to enter the activation key using the license binding to the equipment (the article is called Microsoft Digital Entitlement, what will be the official translation, I don’t know yet). Update: it is officially called Digital resolution.

What this means for the average user: once you once updated to Windows 10 on your computer, it is automatically activated when a subsequent clean install (if you have updated with license).

In the future you do not need to study the instructions on «How to find the key of installed Windows 10«. At any time you can create a bootable USB flash drive or CD with Windows 10 official funds and run a clean install (reinstall) the OS on the same computer or laptop, skipping the enter key wherever it require: system activation will occur automatically after you connect to the Internet.

Independent input peeped previously after the upgrade key during the installation or afterwards in the properties of the computer in theory can be harmful.

Important note: unfortunately not everything always runs smoothly (although usually Yes). In case something with the activation not work there is another guide from Microsoft (already in Russian) — help with activation errors Windows 10, available at

Who needs Windows 10 activation key

Now, as for the activation key: as already mentioned, users who received Windows 10 by updates do not need this key (moreover, as many may have noticed on different computers and different users can be one and the same key, if you look at it one of the known methods) as a successful activation depends on it.

The product key for installation and activation is necessary in cases, when:

  • You bought a boxed version of Windows 10 in the store (the key is inside the box).
  • You bought a copy of Windows 10 from an authorized retailer (online store)
  • You purchased a Windows 10 via Volume Licensing or MSDN
  • You purchased a new device preloaded with Windows 10 (they promise a sticker or key card in the set).

As you can see, at the current time very few people need the key, and those who need, it most often is a question about where to find the activation key is not necessary.

Official information on the Microsoft activation here:

Activation after hardware changes

An important question that many people wondered: what will work are «tied» to the equipment activation, if you change any hardware, particularly if the replacement concerns the key components of a computer?

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Microsoft responds to him: «If you upgrade to Windows 10 using the free upgrade, and then made substantial hardware changes to your device, for example, replacement of the motherboard, Windows 10 may not be activated. For help with activation, please contact support».

Update 2016: based on the available information, since August this year, the Windows 10 license obtained as part of the update, you can bind to your account Microsoft. This is done to facilitate the system activation when you change hardware configuration, but how it will work — we’ll see. You may be able to defer activation to a completely different hardware.


First, I note that this applies only to users of licensed versions of systems. And now a short squeeze on all questions, connected with activation:

  • For most users at the moment does not require a key, enter it to skip the clean install if it was required. But this only works after you’ve already got Windows 10 by updating on the same computer, and the system was activated.
  • If your copy of Windows 10 requires the activation key, either you have it and so either there’s some error on the side of the center of activation (see errors, above).
  • If you change the hardware configuration activation may not work, in this case, you will need to contact Microsoft support.
  • If you are a party Insider, all latest builds will be automatically activated for your Microsoft account (me personally not verified whether it works for multiple computers, of the available information is also still not clear).

In my opinion, everything is clear and understandable. If my interpretation of something remains not clear, see the official instructions and ask clarifying questions in the comments below.

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