How to Activate the Windows Operating System?

One of the first tasks that we have to do when installing an operating system is that we have to make sure that the operating system is activated correctly. Today at BigSoftware we are going to try how to activate Windows operating system.

Table of Contents


What are the limitations of an unopened Windows?

Some time ago, if the license was expired or there was a problem with the activation, the operating system was rendered useless until the activation process was done. And the main limitation was such that neither the session could be started. However, currently those limitations have been improved, and currently they are nothing more than minor annoyances with the issue of system customization.

Windows 10

Limitations in Windows 10 without activating

Unlike previous versions of the system, that when the license expired they were unusable until the activation process was done again, 10 is more permissive on this issue. You can still use Windows, but with a set of limitations, which we will mention below:

  • The wallpaper cannot be changed.
  • Multiple options in the Settings panel will be limited.
  • The possibility of customization (colors, fonts, themes, among others) will not be possible.
  • Personalizing the lock screen will not be allowed.
  • Limited some taskbar configuration options.
  • Locked the customization settings of the start menu.

Everything else will work smoothly, although it will warn us to activate the operating system. And after activating it, limitations will not continue to bother us.

Windows 11

Limitations in Windows 11 not activated
Limitations in Windows 11 not activated

With this version, the limitations are similar to the previous version. Similar to Windows 10, you can choose to install the operating system without a password, and you can use it without any problem. But, what we will not be able to do is mentioned below:

  • Personalize. No customization option will be available to us.
  • You will see a watermark on the desktop that reminds us that Windows is not activated.
  • Messages will appear from time to time asking for a license.
  • You will see a notice, in the Settings panel, asking for the password.

On the other hand, if the acquisition of new hardware has been carried out with Windows, it should be checked that it is activated. If you do not know how to do it, we will explain it to you below.

How to know if Windows is activated?

Next we show you the two alternatives of how to know if your operating system is activated.

By setting

The first option is to open the dashboard Configuration by pressing using the Windows + I keys and choose Update and security.

Know if Windows is activated
Know if Windows is activated

At this time select Activation in the left column. Under the “Windows” section you can check if your Windows is activated or not.

Windows activation status
Windows activation status

Through a keyboard shortcut

The second option is to use the keyboard shortcut Windows + Pause (the Pause key is usually close to the Print Scrn key) and so on. open the System window, which should already be known from previous versions of Windows.

Through a keyboard shortcut
Through a keyboard shortcut

What are the Windows license types?

When it comes to operating system licenses, there are basically two types.

The first type are OEM licenses, are those that come when you buy a new computer. These have the habit of being included in the UEFI of the motherboard, and the system will boot and activate it automatically after a format, you do not have to do anything. There is one thing to keep in mind, these are valid for specific hardware. If the CPU or the motherboard is changed, a new one must be purchased. Since they are in the UEFI, the key as such is generally not going to be known.

The second type are Retail licenses They are nothing more than the perpetual keys for Windows, being personal, that is, they can be used on the computers that you want (although they can be activated on one computer at the same time). If you change hardware or computer, it can be activated without having to buy a new one, although they are more expensive, but in exchange you will get a key as such, and it can be used to activate the system.

You can also talk about digital licenses and product keys.

This being the case, what type of key must be acquired? It is best to buy a Retail license. In this way, you will have a Windows exclusively for users, and if the computer is changed any day, this license will remain in force.

Generic keys to install Windows

If a password is needed yes or yes, Microsoft gives the possibility of a set of 100% legal licenses that will allow you to install and activate a trial version of the operating system for both version 10 or 11. These can be searched on the Microsoft website, and we mention it below:

  • Windows 10/11 “Home”:
    • TX9XD-98N7V-6WMQ6-BX7FG-H8Q99
    • YTMG3-N6DKC-DKB77-7M9GH-8HVX7
  • Windows 10/11 “Home N”:
    • 4CPRK-NM3K3-X6XXQ-RXX86-WXCHW
  • Windows 10/11 “Pro N”:
    • 2B87N-8KFHP-DKV6R-Y2C8J-PKCKT
  • Windows 10/11 “Pro”:
    • VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T
  • Windows 10/11 “Home Single Language”:
    • 7HNRX-D7KGG-3K4RQ-4WPJ4-YTDFH
    • BT79Q-G7N6G-PGBYW-4YWX6-6F4BT
  • Windows 10/11 “Enterprise”:
    • NPPR9-FWDCX-D2C8J-H872K-2YT43
  • Windows 10/11 “Education”:
    • YNMGQ-8RYV3-4PGQ3-C8XTP-7CFBY

These licenses are legal, since Microsoft gives them to be able to install and test Windows on different computers, but they are valid for a certain time. After its validity, you have to buy a new key to make it life-long.

How to activate the Windows operating system?

One question we often ask ourselves is, How many computers can be activated with the same Windows key? The answer is simple, one, whatever the type of license it is, because it will only be found on a computer activated with the same one at a time. In the particular case of the OEM type license, it cannot be activated on a second computer. With the Retail type, if a second computer can be activated, the previous one is automatically deactivated.

Now, once you have a key, and the equipment you want to activate, How to activate the Windows operating system?

Throughout the installation of the operating system

The first option to activate the Windows operating system is through the installation process. If you have the key or license, when you start installing the system, the wizard will ask for it to be sure that the system is original and, thus, when the installation is finished, connect to the Internet automatically to leave it fully activated.

Throughout the installation of the operating system
Throughout the installation of the operating system

If you do not have the license at the time of installation, you can postpone the activation of the system by clicking on «I don’t have a product key» until installation is complete. Later the activation can be carried out from the Settings menu.

It may happen that. When installing Windows, the previous step that does not ask for the license key does not appearto. This happens because the installation wizard has found the license key in the UEFI of the computer and has therefore imported it successfully. Here in this case you do not have to worry since when the installation of the operating system is finished it will be activated and ready to work. In the case of having another, for example if you have purchased a Pro version, you can activate the new license after installation.

Once installed

If Windows activation was not performed during installation, You can also do this activation with the password once you have control over the desktop.

How to activate Windows 10 operating system?

For this purpose, you should only open the Configuration menu of the operating system, then scroll to the section Update and Security> Activation , and then click Change product key .

Change product key
Change product key

A window will appear where you have to enter the new product key, and this is where you have to write the license that has been purchased.

Specify a product key
Specify a product key

When the product license has been entered, it is activated and functional.

How to activate the Windows 11 operating system?

The process of activating Windows 11, having the system installed, is quite the same as that of the previous version, 10, with the difference being that the section of the Settings menu is changed. The Configuration menu is opened using the Win + I shortcut, then to the System> Activation section. And you will find a section equal to the following:

Activation in Windows 11
Activation in Windows 11

Here you can see if Windows 11 is activated, what type of license it uses, and, if a new key is acquired, change it.

How to activate Windows operating system from Microsoft Account?

One of the novelties of Windows is that it gives you the possibility of associating the license key with the Microsoft Account. In this way, instead of looking for it every time we reinstall the device, just by starting the session it will be recognized and the system will be activated, with all the advantages it brings.

Link Windows key to Microsoft account

The first time Windows is installed, it will have to be activated in one of the two ways above. However, once activated, the moment you log in with a Microsoft account, the key will be saved on Microsoft servers. This can be seen since, when viewing the activation status, a message such as «Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account.

Link Windows key to Microsoft account
Link Windows key to Microsoft account

Voila! Nothing more needs to be done. As long as the Microsoft account is maintained, the key will always be with us.

Restore the key from Microsoft Account after formatting

The benefit of using this method is that you can forget about all the others. The key will be stored in the cloud, and we will not enter it again. If it is OEM type, it will only be activated on its corresponding computer, while if it is Retail type it can be activated on any device.

The next time Windows is installed, all you have to do is sign in with the same Microsoft Account, in order for it to be activated automatically. If the wizard asks for the password during Windows installation, you can continue without any problem.

So far from the topic How to activate the Windows operating system? We hope it will be of great help to you. Thank you very much and see you next time.


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