Activation helps verify that your copy of Windows is genuine and hasn’t been used on more devices than the Microsoft Software License Terms allow. Depending on how you got your copy of Windows 10, activation will use either a digital license or a 25-character product key.
Digital license (called a digital entitlement in Windows 10 Version 1511) is a method of activation in Windows 10 that doesn't require you to enter a product key.
|How you got Windows 10||Activation method|
|You upgraded to Windows 10 for free from an eligible device running a genuine copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.||Digital license|
|You bought genuine Windows 10 from the Windows Store and successfully activated Windows 10.||Digital license|
|You bought a Windows 10 Pro upgrade from the Windows Store and successfully activated Windows 10.||Digital license|
|You’re a Windows Insider and upgraded to the newest Windows 10 Insider Preview build on an eligible device that was running an activated previous version of Windows and Windows 10 Preview.||Digital license|
|You bought a copy of Windows 10 from an authorized retailer.|
(On a label inside the Windows 10 box. A digital license will be given to your device for Windows 10 based on the valid product key you entered.)
|You bought a digital copy of Windows 10 from an authorized retailer.|
(In the confirmation email you received after buying Windows 10 or in a digital locker accessible through the retailer’s website. A digital license will be given to your device for Windows 10 based on the valid product key you entered.)
|You have a Volume Licensing agreement for Windows 10 or MSDN subscription.|
(Available through the web portal for your program.)
|You bought a new device running Windows 10.|
(Pre–installed on your device, included with the device packaging, or included as a card or on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached to the device.)
For more detailed info, see the section about activating Windows 10 that applies to you.
Article ID: 12440 - Last Review: 31 Aug 2016 - Revision: 37