Microsoft Finally Explains the Windows 10 Activation Process


Windows 10 is two months old tomorrow. As of the last time Microsoft divulged some numbers on its new operating system, installations stood at 75 million. Microsoft has continued with the rollout and conservative estimates hint at the install base having risen way past the 100 million mark. However, in all that, one thing that the company ought to have clarified right from the start has kept the /r/windows10 subreddit and other online tech forums alive: the Windows 10 activation process.

Yes the upgrade to Windows 10 is free if I am on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 but after updating do I need to do anything else for my license to be validated? What happens if I format my PC and install Windows 10 directly from a USB thumb drive without upgrading from an existing Windows (7/8.1) installation? There are finally some straightforward answers from the right people.

With Windows 10, Microsoft debuted a new way of activating software licenses without requiring a product key as was the case in the past. The new activation process is called digital entitlement. With digital entitlement, machines are validated on the fly without the users having to do a thing other than checking the new Setttings app to make sure their Windows 10 install has been activated.

A new how-to entry on the Microsoft Windows website details answers all the frequently asked questions about the Windows 10 activation process. Here are few excerpts:

First case scenario

How you got Windows 10: You upgraded to Windows 10 for free from an eligible device running a genuine copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

Activation method: Digital entitlement

Second case scenario

How you got Windows 10: You’re a Windows Insider and upgraded to the newestWindows 10 Insider Preview build on an eligible device that was running an activated previous version of Windows andWindows 10 Preview.

Activation method: Digital entitlement

Third case scenario

How you got Windows 10: You bought a copy of Windows 10 from an authorized retailer.

Activation method: Product key (On a label inside the box Windows 10 came in.)

Fourth case scenario

How you got Windows 10: You bought a new device running Windows 10.

Activation method: Product key (Pre–installed on your device, included with the device packaging, or included as a card or on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached to the device.)

For the complete breakdown on the same you can check the FAQ and a lot more information on Windows 10 activation on Microsoft’s site.