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Each copy of Windows 10 needs to be activated on a computer before it will run. The activation is so that you can prove that your edition of Windows 10 is a genuine one and not stolen or already used/goes against the Microsoft license terms agreements, which is one copy of Windows per computer unless you have an Enterprise license.

There is more than one way to activate Windows 10. How you do it will depend on how you went about getting your copy of Windows 10 installed on the computer. The reason there is more than one way is because of the change that Microsoft brought in recently where you can upgrade your operating system online within needing a disk or USB drive at all.

If you were part of the group who were offered a free upgrade to Windows 10 from Microsoft, you didn’t need to enter a product key to install it. You instead were given a digital entitlement for your device. The digital entitlement allows for the reinstallation of the same Windows 10 on the computer without the use of a product key. For everyone else who did install Windows 10 with a product key, you’ll need that same product key to install the Windows 10 operating system again.

Microsoft later changed the name of the digital entitlement to digital license for everyone who updates to Windows 10 digitally using nothing but the computer and the internet connection. The digital license can now be linked to your Microsoft accounts if you are running on anything after the Windows Insider build 14371. When you link it to a Microsoft account, it can make it easier to activate if you have made some hardware changes like installed a new hard drive or motherboard.

Windows Insider Preview build 10565 also made some changes for people who were struggling to get Windows 10 activated. Now anyone who was eligible to get a free edition of Windows 10 by upgrading from Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 could use a product key to help activate Windows 10. All you had to do was make sure you were running on Windows Insider Preview build 10565 or more, and there would be an option for you to insert the product key during the installation process. You can read the press release for the Windows Insider Preview build 10565 to get more information on that.

Changing Your Windows 10 Edition

If you started with a Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 Home edition of the operating system, then you’ll be upgraded to the Windows 10 Home. It isn’t the be all and end all if you want to upgrade it to the Professional edition of Windows 10 instead. It’s actually a pretty popular thing to do now that the Surface laptop is out and it comes with Windows S but offers a free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. There are many differences between Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, and oftentimes people need what the Pro version offers before making up their minds on what edition they will most likely need to rely on for the foreseeable future. If you’ve made up your mind to go Pro, upgrading from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro is as easy as visiting the Settings application in Windows 10 again and then letting it direct you through to the Windows Store where it offers the upgrade. You could go to a store and buy the DVD to do it if your computer supports disk drives, but it isn’t necessary. Just paying the fee from the Store and then let it upgrade for you is all you need to do if you want the simplest method to go about getting your upgrade.

Settings

You can activate Windows 10 online by using the Settings application. You can use the Settings app if you have a digital license or product key. To get started, click on the “Start” button from the bottom left side of the computer’s display in the taskbar. It opens up the Start menu.

With the Start menu still open, click on the “Settings” gear icon from the left side pane.

Now if you haven’t activated your copy of Windows 10 yet, you’ll see a blue link from this Windows Settings page at the very bottom that says “Windows isn’t activated. Activate Windows now.” that you need to click and then it directs you through to what you need to activate it. You can also follow the rest of the guide and navigate to the same place manually, it just takes a bit longer this way, but it’s good to know because you can always browse to here at any time, including after you’ve activated. To get started, click on the “Update and security” link from the Windows Settings screen.

Click on the “Activation” link in the left side pane.

Now look in the right side pane. If you aren’t activated, there will be two buttons here. One of them is to activate using Windows online, and the other button is to activate with a product key. Take your pick depending on what way you are upgrading. The way you upgrade will depend on if you have an OEM, retail or volume license type.

Command Prompt

It’s also possible to activate Windows 10 online by using the Command Prompt. To do it this way, make sure you open the Command Prompt with the administrative permissions, and then type the slmgr /ipk product key number command, but replace where it says “product key number” with the actual product key number that you have. (The product key number is the 25 digit code consists of letters, numbers, and dashes).

The upgrade process is simple for most people. You don’t need to have a product key to update to Windows 10 if you are eligible for the free upgrade. All you need to do is look out for a notification filling you in on this thing called Windows 10 and how it’s ready to be installed. From there just follow the on-screen instructions to get it installed. Anyone can do it. If you do find yourself in a situation where a product key is needed, or your version of Windows 10 still needs activating, then you can do that by using the guide above.

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