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How to Fix Windows 10 Product Key Activation Not Working

Product Activation was first introduced into the Windows family with the release of Windows XP in 2001. Activation pairs your product key with your computer. It is also used as a mechanism for copy protection in addition to defining support rights depending on the product channel from which the software was acquired: Retail, OEM, Volume License, Trial. With Windows 10, Microsoft has made huge announcements regarding product distribution. The most notable being that Windows 10 is free for existing Windows 7, 8/8.1 users for the first year. Regardless of this, product activation remains a part of Windows 10. In this article, we take a look at product activation and troubleshooting steps.

Understand and Fix Windows 10 Product Key Activation

Things you should know:

  • A Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 product key cannot activate Windows 10. Windows 10 uses its own unique product key.
  • By default, Windows 10 builds are pre-keyed, meaning, you do not have to enter a product key and should not be prompted to enter one as long as you upgraded from an activated Windows 7 or Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 license or Windows 10 Preview build.
  • If you perform a clean install on first attempt, you will have to start over from an activated Windows 7 or Windows 8.x installation.
  • If you are prompted to enter a product key, click Do this later and give it a few days, Windows 10 will activate automatically.
  • Activation servers might be overwhelmed at the times because of the volume of upgrades, so give it some time if you get an error message such as (0XC004E003, ,0x8007000D, 0x8007232b or 0x8007007B) Windows 10 will eventually activate as long as you upgrade using the appropriate method.
  • There is no need to know your Windows 10 product key see ‘Understanding Product Activation in Windows 10:

Product Activation in Windows 10

In previous Windows releases, when you installed an upgrade version of Windows, if you wanted to reinstall the upgrade version, you had to first reinstall the qualifying version from which you upgraded, reactivate it, then upgrade again and reactivate again.

With Windows 10, this is no longer the case. Once you have upgraded to Windows 10 and activate, you can simply create a bootable copy on DVD or USB and reinstall just Windows 10 without the need to reinstall the qualifying version and it will reactivate automatically. Windows 10 registers the device with the Product Activation Center and keeps a copy of your devices activation in a Cloud Store. When you perform reinstall or clean install the installation checks with Activation Server, detects the unique installation ID and produces the validation for your device.

When Installing Windows 10 Build 10240

In order to activate Windows 10 build 10240 (RTM), you must upgrade from a previous qualifying operating system that is genuine and activated: this includes Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10 Insider Previews.

If you are running the Windows 10 Enterprise Preview, you either need to stay in the Windows 10 Insider Preview Program or activate using a product key from the Volume License Service Center (VLSC). If you are not eligible to be running Windows 10 Enterprise, I suggest you make preparations to roll back to the original version of Windows your system was licensed for and make a reservation to upgrade to Windows 10.

Can I Perform a Clean Install Using the Free Upgrade?

No, it will require that you are running a previous qualifying version and start the upgrade from within the qualifying version. You can initiate a clean install after completing the Upgrade.

Please be aware that you cannot use the free upgrade offer to perform a clean install on the first attempt. You must first upgrade from the qualifying version of Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 (whether you do it through Windows Update or using the ISO file). Ensure the upgrade is completed successfully and then ensure that it is activated. You can then proceed to do a clean install by using recovery media or using the Reset function in Start > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Reset this PC (Get Started).

What if Windows Doesn’t Activate?

If Windows 10 does not activate even after detecting an active Internet Connection, restart and try again. Or wait a few days and Windows 10 should automatically activate itself.

I downloaded the ISO file but Windows 10 setup is prompting me for a product key or indicates the product key does not work with this edition.

Please note: The copy of Windows 10 you download must correspond with the edition of Windows you are upgrading from.

  • Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Windows 8.0 Core, Windows 8.1 Core must use a Windows 10 Home ISO.
  • Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8.0 Pro, Windows 8.1 Pro must use a Windows 10 Pro ISO.
  • Your currently installed copy of Windows must be activated. If it is not, you will be prompted to enter a product key.
  • If you are using Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8.0 Enterprise, Windows 8.1 Enterprise editions you won’t be able to use the free upgrade offer.

The Get Windows 10 App Indicates My License is not Activated:

Again, you must ensure you are running a genuine activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1.

Click Start, right-click Computer (Windows 8 or later – press Windows key + X > click System) then click Properties.

Check to make sure Windows is activated.

I upgraded from an activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 then I decided to reinstall using either the ISO file, Reset this PC, or Recovery drive, but I am prompted to enter a product key:

Select Do this later. Windows 10 will automatically re-activate within a few days.

I just installed or reinstalled a preview build of Windows 10 and I want to upgrade to the final release, but it will not activate.

Microsoft has suspended Preview Builds and also deactivated their product keys at this time. This means you won’t be able to download, install or activate older builds such as 10162 and 10166 or earlier builds in order to qualify for the final release.

Your best option is to reinstall a valid license you have for either Windows 7, Windows 8.0 or Windows 8.1, make sure it is activated, then upgrade from that to Windows 10 on July 29th or later. If you maintained your current activated Windows 10 Preview, you should be able to upgrade from it to the final release.

How do I check my activation status after upgrading?

Go to Settings (press Windows key + I) > Update & security > Activation.

For more on fixing Windows 10 activation errors head to page 2

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13 Responses to How to Fix Windows 10 Product Key Activation Not Working

  1. Joe L September 24, 2015 at 8:04 am #

    This is an interesting article. I’m having the same problem with my windows 10 pro update. I installed win 10 from an iso download and after a couple of upgrades I kept getting a message that Windows 10 pro needs to be authorized. When I try it fails.
    The same thing happen to my Office 2010 pro. I am unable to use it because the key that I have is not accepted. I gave up and although the it’s still loaded, I use one of the free programs that mimic Office.

  2. Todd Z September 24, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

    I had a licensed, activated copy of windows 8.1 Pro that I bought and paid for. I downloaded the ISO windows 10 Pro file and performed an upgrade of my 8.1 Pro to Windows 10 Pro. It activated fine. A couple of weeks later, I formatted my hard drives and did a clean install of windows 10 Pro. It would not activate afterwards. I called Microsoft and was told to wait a few days. I tried everyday for three weeks, it would not activate. I called again and they said “the ONLY way to activate a free upgrade is to do it after an install of windows 7 or 8.” They re-iterated that a clean install is not possible, even if I first did the upgrade from 8.1 Pro. She told me to re-install Windows 8.1 Pro, then perform the upgrade to windows 10 Pro. It worked when i did that. Again, a clean install is not possible unless you buy windows 10.

    • Joe L September 25, 2015 at 9:45 am #

      Todd, in my case I do have a bought and paid for win 8.0 pro, but after installing the pro version of 10, I kept getting the message to activate it. Which of course it would not do. After I googled it and was given 3 separate answers, of which one activated my win 10 pro. There is help out there.
      Oh, I’m still not able to get the activation key to work for my office 2010 pro. Both of these programs were bought by me.

  3. ron October 4, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    had to restore my laptop now win 10 will not work

  4. G. C. October 5, 2015 at 3:08 am #

    Hello, great explanatory article! I wonder how to activate a guest windows 10 pro to run on a windows 10 pro hyper-v instance as you wrote here: http://www.groovypost.com/howto/create-virtual-machine-windows-10-hyper-v/#comment-640548?

    Thank you

  5. Deon November 15, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

    Hi, I upgraded from win 7 pro to 10. My laptop worked fine for weeks, then refused to start windows one morning. I tried the repairs available (advanced options, etc). I then downloaded the ISO file for win 10, that contains all the win 10 versions, I retrieved the win 10 pro product key from my drive, but during the win 10 installation it says the the key is invalid. Can anyone advise me, please. Thank you.

  6. Junmar December 25, 2015 at 11:06 pm #

    How can i fix my laptop because i made a fresh installation after i upgrade my windows 8.1 to windows 10 even if it still not yet activated…i got the error code of 0x803f7001 and 0x803f7003, pls help me…

    • jdiosc February 26, 2016 at 6:49 am #

      I got the same error code. Even mine was an authorised copy of windows 8.1. I don’t know what to do.

  7. Len Bloch February 25, 2016 at 8:14 am #

    A product riddled with problems.
    When an update of windows TEN is done,some of my progremmes simply disappear.
    On windows 8 I never had any problems whatsoever.
    The latest problem .
    I cannot link to my printer. Got an expert in at great cost,he managed the link but as soon as the computer is switched off,that`s it,no more link.
    My ONLY alternative now is to go back to windows 8 until your team sort out all the crap on the system.

  8. kumar March 19, 2016 at 1:39 am #

    i need product key ms word 2010 product key need to reactive

  9. Tony April 24, 2016 at 9:30 am #

    Thanks Bro. Your blog is best than other professionals blogs. You share clear information about Windows 10.

  10. tyler May 21, 2016 at 9:29 am #

    question then say that i have 2 desktops and 3 hard drives all of them have windows and i take harddrive 3 and make it windows 10 from windows 7 on computer b and then go to computer a and launch the hardrive on it useing its windows 10 why does it now say windows 10 is not activated because that happened to my 1tb that is windows 10 home please help

  11. PIYATH May 24, 2016 at 5:34 am #

    Please HELP..

    I previously had a windows 7 home premium original copy which I did bought spending my money. It worked well. After win 10 launch I could successfully upgrade to windows 10 and the copy got activated automatically. There were talks around saying Microsoft is giving away free windows activation this time. So i made a USB copy of windows 10 PRO in to my flash drive and I DID A CLEAN INSTALL FROM THAT VERY COPY. Now I have Windows 10 PRO not activated. I cannot activate this using my windows 7 home premium product key. PLEASE HELP!

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