This activation error occurs when Windows is unable to find a product key associated with your hardware. This could happen after replacing hardware such as a motherboard. A product key is assigned to the motherboard firmware, so it cannot be used on multiple devices simultaneously.
To fix this error, you need either a product key or a digital license to reactivate your Windows install. If your computer or laptop comes with Windows preinstalled, then you can reactivate your Windows using a preinstalled product key.
Reactivating Windows will resolve this issue, especially if you recently changed your motherboard. However, if you don’t remember your product key, you may need to purchase one. Alternatively, you could also use the old motherboard to copy the product key if you want to save money.
The other main reason is Windows might forget the product key that comes in the preinstalled Windows with a new laptop or computer. If this situation is applicable to you, then you can activate your Windows with an old product key.
1. Activate Windows using a product key
The first method to fix this error is to activate Windows with a product key. This method requires the product key that you used to activate your Windows originally. If you don’t have it, you might need to buy it from the Microsoft store again. However, if you have a digital license, you can follow the other method.
- To activate Windows using a product key, right-click the Start Menu and select Settings from the listed options.
- Once the Setting is opened, go to Activation. If you have Windows 10, go to Update and security, then go to Activation from the left pane.
- Click Change next to the Change product key. For Windows 10. Just click the Change product key.
- Enter your product key and click Next.
- Then, click Activate.
- You will receive a message that your Windows is activated.
2. Activate Windows using a digital license
If you activated your Windows install with a digital license, then you just need to log in with the Microsoft account that you used to purchase it. Digital licenses are automatically associated with your hardware and your Microsoft account. So once you log in with your Microsoft account, your Windows will automatically be activated.
If this does not happen, make sure that you are logged in with the correct Microsoft account. If you are sure, then follow the next method.
To check if your Windows is activated or not, follow the steps:
- Once you have signed in, you need to check whether your system is activated or not. To do so, press the Windows + R keys together to launch the Run Window.
- Enter cmd in the input box and click OK.
- Once you open the command prompt, then enter the following command.
- If you did not receive the message saying “The machine is permanently activated.” then you have to follow the next method.
3. Run Windows Activation Troubleshooter
If you didn’t link your Microsoft account to the digital license before you upgraded the hardware, skip this method. However, if you did, then running the activation troubleshooter will activate your Windows. To do so, follow these steps:
- Press the Windows key and type Settings.
- Open Settings and go to Activation. If you have Windows 10, navigate to Update & Security and select Activation.
- You will see the Troubleshoot option if you get any activation errors.
- Click on it to run the troubleshooter. You might see Windows can’t be activated on your device message.
- Select I changed hardware on this device recently, then click Next.
- Enter your Microsoft sign-in information and click Sign-in.
- After that, select This is the device I’m using right now and click Activate.
4. Use preinstalled product key
If you bought a new system and Windows comes preinstalled on it with the product key, Windows might forget it, causing this error. To fix this error, you will have to re-enter the product key. You will need to reveal and copy the product key first with the help of commands. To do so, follow these steps.
- Press the Windows key and type Windows PowerShell.
- Right-click on PowerShell and select Run as administrator
- Once the PowerShell is launched, enter the following command.
wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey
- Hit Enter to reveal the product key.
- Highlight the product key and press Ctrl + C to copy it to the clipboard.
- Now close the PowerShell. Press Windows + R keys together to open Run Window.
- Enter the following command to navigate into activation settings.
- Click Change next to the Change product key option. If you have Windows 10, click on the Change product key.
- Paste the product key and click Next, then click Activate.
- You will receive a Windows is activated message if your product key is valid.
5. Contact Microsoft support
If the problem persists, then the last solution is to contact a Microsoft support agent. To do that, follow the steps:
- Just visit the Microsoft contact page and type your issue in the search box, and press Enter.
- You will see some methods according to your issue. Skip them, as we have already listed all the possible scenarios in this article.
- Click Contact Support.
- Choose Windows from the products and click Confirm.
- Click Provide your phone number, and a support agent will call you.
- Enter your phone number and click Confirm.
- Additionally, we recommend you give a screenshot of your issue by clicking the Add a file option.
6. Purchase a new product key
If all methods fail, ensure the product key you have been trying is not being used on other devices because this is against Microsoft policy. However, if that’s not the case, and you have tried all the methods listed in this article, you might need to purchase a new product key.
- To purchase a Windows 11 product key, you can use third-party websites to buy a product key at low prices, such as G2A. Once you have bought a product key, press the Windows + R keys together to launch the Run Window.
- Enter ms-settings:activation and click OK.
- Click the Change button on the right side of the Change product key option. For Windows 10 users, click the Change product key.
- After that, paste the copied product key here, then click Next.
- Click Activate. Once done, you will get a confirmation message Windows is activated.