What happens if you don’t activate Windows 10?

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you.
Please check the Affiliate Disclaimer for more information.

What happens if you don’t activate Windows 10? That has been a common question for years, among Windows 10 users. Microsoft released Windows 10 in 2015 and invited every Windows 7, 8/8.1 user to upgrade their operating system to the all-new Windows 10.

Microsoft provided a free upgrade to the ones already running a genuine installation of Windows 7, 8, and 8.1.

Although, for the users willing to have their first experience with Windows, and, on the other hand, old-time users running a Windows version prior to the Windows 7 which are not eligible for a free upgrade, buying an expensive Windows 10 license can take a lot of financial effort for many. What if you don’t have a product key?

Some users which do not own a product key opt not to pay for a genuine Microsoft license, and as a result, they keep using their Windows 10 copies without Windows activation.

What happens if you don’t activate Windows 10?

So, for the ones who are running a non-activated version of Windows 10, the question remains: what happens when you don’t activate Windows 10? Is there any problem with using an unactivated Windows 10?

Fortunately, the repercussions are almost non-existent. If you have not activated your Windows and you’re using the operating system that way for months or even for years, you can get away with minor inconveniences.

Unactivated Windows 10 limitations

The major inconvenience is that you’ll see the “activate Windows watermark” or the “Windows’ watermark” at the lower right corner of your screen. That’s a sign that you don’t have a licensed copy yet, warning you to get an activated Windows 10 (buying a digital license).

Check out our awesome article on File sizes and their conversions explained: kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes and much more!

You will also notice a link appearing in your Settings app which will say: “Windows is not activated. Activate windows now.” That link and the watermark in your desktop area will remain until you activate your Windows 10 with a genuine license key;

Secondly, you will not be able to change the personalization settings on Windows. It will stop you from changing the wallpaper, background screen, lock screen, and themes. Some other personalization features will also not be accessible until Windows is activated with a licensed copy.

However, you can still change your wallpaper by using some simple methods. For instance, if you access the File Explorer and right-click the image you want to set as wallpaper and choose “Set as desktop background,” you will be able to change the wallpaper successfully.

Last but not least, another annoying issue is that Microsoft will occasionally send you reminders to do the product activation. So, there may be some pop-ups when you are working or playing games that might cause inconvenience.

Apart from those mentioned issues, you will not face any significant difficulties. For those who use their unactivated copy of Windows within 30 days of installation, their operating system will keep on working.

It will not stop working even if you keep using an unlicensed copy for a couple of years. At least, until Microsoft forbids the use of the inactivated versions of Windows 10. You will also receive regular updates from Microsoft even without activating your Windows.

Although you’ll experience an entirely functional system – apart from the locked personalization capabilities – we still advise you to activate it as soon as you can. There is no guarantee that Microsoft will not change the status quo and block the inactive Windows versions. It’s always better to have a genuine copy of Windows.

Simple and legal ways to activate Windows 10

If you cannot stand the watermark mocking you every day, or even if you want to be on the safe side, the way to go is to activate your Windows. Doing that, you will stop receiving the irritating pop-ups, the watermark will be gone, and you will be able to personalize your system to your heart’s content.

All of that will go away when you have an activated copy, along with the uncertainty that Microsoft may take some steps against the inactivated Windows versions.

Using the Windows 10 Activation Panel

We know that Windows 7 was discontinued by now. But if you’re still running Windows 7 or 8/8.1 on your old computer, you can upgrade it to Windows 10 for free, given that the operating system you’re using is activated and genuine. Just download Windows 10 from the Microsoft website and install it in your system.

If you have already downloaded Windows 10, and it is not active yet, you can activate it by following a few simple steps:

  • Go to Settings to activate Windows and then access “Update and security”;
  • Go to the “Activation panel”.

There, you will find a clickable link for the activation process. It will direct you to the Microsoft store where you’ll connect to the activation server and be able to buy a Windows license using your credit card or PayPal account.

After purchasing the Windows license, Microsoft will automatically activate your Windows and you’ll receive an e-mail with the product-key associated with the Windows 10 you have just purchased.

Buying a Windows 10 license online

You can also purchase a genuine Windows 10 product key through Amazon. Amazon is one of the best online platforms for buying a Windows 10 activation key, as you can get them, generally, for a lower price. If you choose Amazon, make sure you buy it from the official Microsoft on Amazon Account only.

Activate Windows 10 by phone

You can activate your Windows 10 by phone and it is also a very simple process.

  • Access “Run” by pressing Windows key + R;
  • Enter “slui 4” and press “Ok”.

This will open the phone activation wizard, just select your country and follow on-screen instructions to proceed with activation.

If you have doubts about how to activate Windows 10 offline we let you know that is not possible anymore. Unlike previous Windows versions, Windows 10 cannot be activated offline.

Note: There are two Windows 10 versions: Windows 10 Home, which will cost about $140, and Windows 10 Pro, which can go up to $200. Whichever you buy, the process is similar.

Wrap Up

You can indeed use a Microsoft Windows 10 unlicensed copy it and even going that way you’ll experience an entirely functional system apart from locked personalization capabilities and some annoying messages and pop-ups. Your Windows 10 computer without an OEM license will not only show you the activation watermark but it will keep reminding you of its non-activation status.

We strongly recommend you go legal and buy a genuine Windows 10 key. It is not granted that Microsoft will not change its policy and block the inactive Windows versions within a short period of time. It is uncertain and almost dangerous to keep using a non-activated operating system.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I don’t activate windows 10?

Contrary to what you might expect, Windows 10 will run almost as an activated version. Despite that, there are a few limitations on your Windows product as we’ve already covered in this article.

What are the unactivated Windows 10 limitations?

It comes down mainly to a “activate Windows watermark” on the bottom right corner of your screen and being unable to change your personalization settings. Among others, these include the desktop background and themes. You can read in further detail here (or scroll up).

Can you update an unactivated Windows 10?

Yes, even if your Windows operating system is running in its inactive version, Windows update will work without any compromise.

Also, take a look at these useful articles with related content: