Activation helps verify that Windows on your PC is genuine and hasn’t been used on more PCs than the Microsoft Software License Terms allow.
To activate, you’ll need a product key for the version of Windows that’s on your PC. It looks like this:
PRODUCT KEY: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
The location of your product key depends on how you acquired your copy of Windows.
If you purchased Windows from an authorized retailer, the product key should be on a label inside the box it came in.
If you bought a new PC with Windows, the product key will be pre–installed on your PC and your PC will automatically be activated. The product key should be included with the packaging the PC came in, or on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached to the PC. If you bought a digital copy of Windows from a Microsoft website, the product key should be in the confirmation email you received after buying it.
Windows will automatically try to activate when you’re connected the Internet. If you have problems activating online, you can activate using the phone.
Article ID: 15083 - Last Review: Apr 27, 2016 - Revision: 32