Activation in Windows 10

Applies to: Windows 10

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, you'll need either a 25-character product key or a digital license to activate it. Without one of these, you won't be able to activate your device. The product key or digital license can't be substituted for one another. To find out which one your device uses, see What activation method do I use, a digital license or a product key? in the list below.
  • A 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. If you upgraded to Windows 10 for free from an activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you should have a digital license instead of a product key.
  • A Windows product key is a 25-character code used to activate Windows. It looks like this:
PRODUCT KEY: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
 
During installation, you'll be prompted to enter a product key. If you have a digital license, select the option to continue without entering a product key. 
 

If you're curious about Windows updates instead of Windows activation, see Update Windows 10

If you need to install and activate Microsoft Office, see Download and install or reinstall Office on your PC or Mac. 

If you need additional info on Windows activation, select one of the following items below to expand the section and learn more.