Activate Windows 7 or Windows 8.1

Note: For info about how to activate Windows 10, see Activation in 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.

A Windows product key is a 25-character code used to activate Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. It looks like this:

PRODUCT KEY: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX

Without a product key, you won't be able to activate your device. 

Your product key should be in the confirmation email you received after buying Windows, included with the packaging that came with your PC, or on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached to the back or bottom of your PC.

For more info about Windows product keys and where to find them for the copy of Windows that’s on your PC, see Find your Windows product key.

Notes: 

 

Notes: 

  • Support for Windows 7 ended on January 14, 2020

  • We recommend you move to a Windows 10 PC to continue to receive security updates from Microsoft.

  • Learn more

 

When you begin activation, Windows will try to use your internet connection to activate online. If you have problems activating online or don't have an internet connection, you can activate by phone.

To activate Windows 7 using an internet connection:

  1. Select the Start button Start button icon, right-click Computer, select Properties, and then select Activate Windows now.

  2. If Windows detects an internet connection, select Activate Windows online now. Administrator permission required You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

  3. Enter your Windows 7 product key when prompted, select Next, and then follow the instructions.

To activate Windows 7 by phone:

  1. Select the Start button Start button icon, right-click Computer, select Properties, and then select Activate Windows now.

  2. Choose Show me other ways to activate.

  3. Enter your Windows 7 product key, and then select Next.

  4. Select Use the automated phone system. Administrator permission required You may be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

  5. Select your location (or the location nearest to you) from the drop-down list, and then select Next.

  6. Call one of the available phone numbers listed. An automated system will guide you through the activation process.

If you're experiencing activation issues, see Why can't I activate Windows and Get help with Windows activation errors.

When you begin activation, Windows will try to use your internet connection to activate online. If you have problems activating online or don't have an internet connection, you can activate by phone.

To activate Windows 8.1 using an internet connection:

  1. Select the Start button , type PC settings, and then select PC settings from the list of results.

  2. Choose Activate Windows.

  3. Enter your Windows 8.1 product key, select Next, and follow the instructions.

To activate Windows 8.1 by phone:

  1. Select the Start button , enter PC settings, and then select PC settings from the list of results.

  2. Select Activate Windows, and then select Contact customer support for help. Administrator permission required You may be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

  3. Select your location (or the location nearest to you) from the drop-down list, and then select Next.

  4. Call one of the available phone numbers listed. An automated system will guide you through the activation process.

If you're experiencing activation issues, see Why can't I activate Windows and Get help with Windows activation errors.

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