Activation Code

Windows 11Windows 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.

You'll first want to find out if your Windows 11 is activated and linked to your Microsoft account. It is essential that you link your Microsoft account to the Windows 11 license on your device. Linking your Microsoft account with your digital license enables you to reactivate Windows using the Activation troubleshooter whenever you make a significant hardware change.

To check activation status in Windows 11, select the Start button, and then select Settings > System and then select Activation .

Your activation status will be listed next to Activation. You'll see one of these activation status messages on the Activation page:.

Activation status. Windows is activated. You are activated. Microsoft account is not linked. Follow instructions in Linking your Microsoft account.

Windows is activated with a digital license.

  • You are activated. Your Microsoft account is not linked to your digital license. Follow instructions in Linking your Microsoft account.
  • Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account. You are activated. Your Microsoft account is already linked to your digital license.

Activate using a product key

  • Windows is not activated. You are not activated. You will see an error message explaining the failure.
  • You might need to purchase Windows 11 to activate. If you need to purchase a license for your device, see "Purchase a Windows 11 license."
  • If you have purchased a license for this device already and still receive an error message, continue to Methods of activation.
  • To link your Microsoft account, follow these instructions:. Sign in as an administrator to add your Microsoft account.
  • To confirm you're using an administrator account, select the Start button, then select Settings > Accounts > Your info .
  • Under your name, you’ll see Administrator. If you’re not an administrator, see Create a local user or administrator account.Go to your info in Settings.

Confirm that the administrator account is also your Microsoft account by checking to see if an email address is displayed above Administrator.

If an email address is displayed, this is a Microsoft account. If not, you’re logged in with a local account.

Need more info?

If you don’t yet have a Microsoft account, see How to create a new Microsoft account.

Once you confirm that you’re an administrator and using your Microsoft account, go back to the Activation page, select Add an account, enter your Microsoft account and password, and then select Sign in.

After your Microsoft account has been added, on the Activation page you’ll see Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account.

Depending on how you got your copy of Windows 11, you'll need either a digital license or a 25-character product key to activate it.

Without one of these, you won't be able to activate your device. A digital license (called a digital entitlement in Windows 11) is a method of activation in Windows 11 that doesn't require you to enter a product key.

A product key is a 25-character code used to activate Windows.

How to get unlock code and activation key for downloading data recovery apps

  • What you'll see is PRODUCT KEY: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX.
  • After determining which activation method you use, follow the steps in the corresponding Activate using a digital license or Activate using a product key.
  • Your activation method depends on how you got your copy of Windows 11.
  • If you got Windows 11 by.. Activation method.
  • Upgrading to Windows 11 for free from an eligible device running a genuine copy of Windows 10, Windows 8.1 or Windows 7.
  • Digital license. If you associated or signed onto a Microsoft Account or associated your MSA with your digital license, that will be your MSA containing the digital license.
  • Buying a Windows 11 Pro upgrade from the Microsoft Store app and successfully activated Windows 11.
  • Digital license. When purchasing from Microsoft Store, a confirmation email was sent to confirm the purchase.
  • That email address (MSA) will contain the digital license.
  • Being a Windows Insider and upgrading to the newest Windows 11 Insider Preview build on an eligible device that was running an activated earlier version of Windows 11 and Windows 11 Preview.
  • Digital license. The email address that you used for your Windows Insider login will likely be the MSA containing your digital license.
  • Buying genuine Windows 11 from the Microsoft Store app.
  • Digital license. When purchasing from Microsoft Store, a confirmation email was sent to confirm the purchase.
  • That email address (MSA) will contain the digital license.
  • Buying a PC that came with Windows 11.
  • Find your product key either on the device packaging or on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached to your device.
  • Buying a box copy of Windows 11 from an authorized retailer.
  • Find your product key on a label inside the Windows 11 box.
  • Buying a digital copy of Windows 11 from an authorized retailer.
  • Find your product key in the confirmation email you received after buying Windows 11 or in a digital locker accessible through the retailer’s website.
  • A digital license will be given to your device for Windows 11 based on the valid product key you entered.
  • Having a Volume Licensing agreement for Windows 11 or MSDN subscription.
  • Your product key is available through the web portal for your program.
  • Buying a new or refurbished device running Windows 11.
  • Your product key is preinstalled on your device, included with the device packaging, or included as a card or on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached to the device.

If you bought a refurbished PC, the refurbisher, not Microsoft, must provide you a product key. Buying from the Microsoft Store online. Find your product key in the confirmation email that contains the order history.

If you don't have a digital license or a product key, you can purchase a Windows 11 digital license after installation finishes.

Select the Start button. Select Settings > System > Activation .

Select Go to Store. This opens the Microsoft Store app where you can purchase a Windows 11 digital license.

Digital licenses are associated with your hardware and linked to your Microsoft account, so there's nothing you need to find on your PC.

You're all set once your PC is connected to the internet and you log in to your Microsoft account.

If you don't have a digital license, you can use a product key to activate.

To learn how to activate using a product key, follow the steps at Activate using a product key.

If you are installing Windows on a new device or motherboard for the first time and you do not have a product key, select I don't have a product key during the installation setup screens.

When prompted, enter the Microsoft account you want to use to purchase a digital license for this device.

Once the setup screens are completed and Windows has finished installing, go to activation settings: Select the Start button, and then select Settings > System > Activation .

Then select Open Store to purchase a digital license to activate Windows.

Methods of activation

If you have a digital license for your device, you can reinstall the same edition of Windows 11 on this device without entering a product key.

Make sure that Windows 11 is activated before you try to reinstall it.

Related links

  • To find out, select the Start button, and then select Settings > System > Activation .
  • You’ll be able to confirm that your Windows 11 has been activated and that your Microsoft account is associated with your digital license.
  • Here are the possible messages that display on the Activation page:.
  • Activation status. Windows is activated with a digital license.
  • Your Microsoft account is not linked to your digital license.

Follow instructions for Linking your Microsoft account. Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account. Your Microsoft account is already linked to your digital license. If Windows 11 isn’t activated on your device, see Get help with Windows activation errors for more info. If your digital license is not linked to your Microsoft account, follow the steps under Checking your Activation status, Linking your Microsoft account.

Once you have your account linked, then you can run setup to reinstall Windows 11.

For more info about how to create installation media to reinstall Windows 11, go to the Microsoft software download website.
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