It all sounded good, right? Hey, you no longer need a Windows 10 product key. Just re-install Windows 10 as many times as you want and you’ll never have any issues. Windows 10 will recognize your computer’s hardware configuration and simply activate when you login to your Microsoft account. That is, as long as you had a valid Windows 10 key at some point. In theory, you should have no problems activating Windows 10. In the real world, however, activation issues can become a nightmare.
What Causes problems Activating Windows 10
If it worked before, it is supposed to work flawlessly upon a clean install of Windows 10. Fortunately, Microsoft is very generous when it comes to letting you use Windows 10 without activating it. You will receive the annoying Activate Windows watermark, but you will still be able to use many of the features within Windows without activation.
Here are some of the things that can cause problems activating Windows 10:
- You made a drastic hardware change after previously activating Windows.
- Your key is pirated or has been used multiple times.
- You license is tied to your Microsoft Account and you’re not logged into your machine with that account.
- You are putting in the wrong key.
- Your machine is not on the Internet and cannot reach the activation servers.
Some Windows 10 Activation Things You Can Try
Through my Windows 10 Activation journey, I took a lot of notes and made an effort to activate Windows numerous different ways. Below are several commands and techniques that may work for you.
Run the Activation Wizard
Type Activation in the search box and it should take you to the activation area. You can run the troubleshooter. Windows will try some things in the background or display an error code which might give you a better understanding of what is happening.
Change The Product Key
There are several ways you can change the product key in Windows. The easiest way is from within the settings. From the Activation page, look for the Change Product Key link.
You will be given the opportunity to put in a new key. Try the key from your original activation (either through a valid license key purchased when your installed Windows, or one you obtained when you purchased the computer).
Try the Virtual Agent
Take note of any error codes you get from the activation troubleshooter or when you try and manually change the product key.
The Virtual Agent will try and determine what the issue is and guide you in the right direction.
Have Microsoft Call You
When the robot fails to resolve your issue, you will be given the chance to have a Microsoft tech call you. If the Tier One group cannot fix your issue, you will likely get escalated to a different team. They may ask you to run Quick Assist, which is a remote desktop support client built into Windows 10. Once they have access, they will take over your computer and try and resolve the issue. Note: You can disconnect at any time if you feel uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, speaking over the phone can be a frustrating experience if you cannot clearly make out what the technician is saying. This is especially true when they are asking you to type out long commands. The letter D might sound like B over the phone. Therefore, I recommend spelling out the command phonically using the Military Alphabet chart.
Command Prompt Commands To Activate Windows
- Type CMD into the search box and then right-click the command prompt icon. Select Run As Administrator.
- Type slmgr.vbs /upk to uninstall the old product key.
- Hit Enter and then restart the computer once the command finishes.
- Type slmgr.vbs /ipk followed by your Windows 10 key. ( slmgr.vbs /ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx)
- Hit Enter
- Type slmgr.vbs /ato to Activate Windows online.
- Hit Enter
Common Windows 10 Activation Error Codes
Below are some of the codes you may receive when attempting to activate Windows 1o:
- 0xC004F211 – Caused by significant hardware changes to your PC.
- 0xC004F212 – Your product key did not work for whatever reason.
- 0xC004F213 – No product key was found stored on your computer.
- 0xC004F210 – The product key is for a different version of Windows other than what you’re running.
- 0xC004FC03 – Your machine is offline or cannot reach the activation servers.
- 0xC004C008, 0xC004C770, 0x803FA071 – Your product key has been used too many times.
- 0x80072F8F – The date and time is wrong on your computer. Windows cannot update or activate in this state.
Hopefully, one of the above steps helped you resolve your problems activating Windows 10. You may get frustrated to the point of buying a cheap license online, but I would recommend against it. Chances are it’s pirated or will simply not work. You can buy a new retail license from Microsoft, but this will cost you between $100 and $250 depending on which version you buy.
As a last resort, try and reinstall Windows using the media creation tool from Microsoft. Download it on the PC you’re having issues with and select the option to run it on that computer and not to burn an ISO or flash drive. Make sure your data is backed up somewhere, and choose the option to wipe your data and start fresh. Once the process is complete, login to the machine with your Microsoft account. If all goes well, Windows will automatically activate at this point.
If you are still having Windows 10 issues, read through our other Windows 10 guides.