If you want to activate Windows 10, it’s no longer as easy as it used to be – often you have e.g. B. no key at hand. We’ll show you how it works

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Anyone who has installed Windows from scratch on their computer knows that that in addition to entering the product key or license key, it is also necessary to activate the new operating system. But what about after upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1? How can I then activate Windows 10?

Are the old product keys also valid for Windows 10? How does the still necessary activation work? And what if a new hard drive or a faster processor is retrofitted?

Terms and questions about activation

Product Key

The license key or product key is the same as before the well-known option for licensing or updating Windows 10 through the 5 x 5-digit combination of letters and numbers. You get the license, for example, when you order Windows 10 online (on a data carrier, currently from 33 euros/as of: 10/2020).

The product key can be read out with Windows tools or more easily with a free tool. The procedure is described in detail in the Read Windows 10 product key tip.

Digital License

The < strong>digital license (digital license) is obtained when you buy Windows 10 online (without a data carrier), more precisely: when you link a valid license to your own Microsoft account. It is like a “license in the cloud”. In principle, this should eliminate some annoying activation steps (more on this later).

Digital authorization

The digital authorization (digital entitlement) is the new method of activating during an upgrade to Windows 10 without a new product key. A valid product key for Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 is required during the upgrade to Windows 10. A “fingerprint” of the computer, which is dependent on the installed hardware, is generated and used as digital authorization for activation. Most users probably chose this method at least until mid-2016.

Tip: You can check your current activation status with “Windows key + I” / Update and security / Activation.

 Windows 10: activation statusActivate Windows 10: Activation Status

To be clear, the digital license and digital entitlement automatically activates Windows 10. This usually also applies to a new installation – at least if the hardware has not been changed…

What happens if the hardware of the computer is changed?

Buyers of a Windows 10 retail or OEM version are not bound to the hardware in Germany. That means you can swap out the hardware or install Windows 10 on a brand new computer.

Since the Anniversary Update, users have had a digital license or a digital Authorization a relatively easy way to continue using Windows 10 after a hardware change.

To do this, you must link the activation to the Microsoft account BEFORE the hardware change . This is done via “Windows key + I” / Settings / Update and Security.

It may happen that after installing new hardware, Windows 10 reports that Windows 10 cannot be activated. In this case, there is a “Troubleshooting” button under “Activation”.

  • You must click this button.
  • Then confirm: “I recently changed the device hardware”. .
  • Now enter the e-mail address of the Microsoft account and the associated password.
  • “Local” users also enter the password for the local account.
  • You will be presented with a list of devices from which you can select the computer with the changed hardware.
  • Finally click on “Activate”.

Can I use a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 key for a Windows 10 installation?

Yes. You can do this by upgrading from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1. If the automatic Windows 10 activation does not take place, you can access “Windows key +I” / Update and Security / Activation / “Change product key” to the input mask for the product key.

Is the product key lost during an upgrade or downgrade?

No. The legally acquired licenses for Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 remain valid. This is important in case you want to downgrade Windows 10 later.

OEM licenses bound to a specific device are still valid for this device. Some OEM licenses can also be used on new devices. Retail licenses can easily be taken from one device to a new one if the old copy of Windows is removed first.

Can a Windows 10 license be transferred to a transferred to a new computer?

In principle – yes. However, as with the old Windows licenses, this depends on the type of license. If you have a retail license, you can transfer your Windows 10 license to a new PC without any problems.

OEM licenses are mostly transferrable. Whether it works on a brand new computer depends on the OEM license provider. At Dell, for example, there were sometimes problems. Of course, the same license may not be used on several devices at the same time! (1 license = 1 computer)

To find out what type of license is on your computer, press “Windows key + R” and then enter the command “slmgr.vbs –dlv“.

 Windows 10: show license typeWindows 10: Show license type

Theoretically, you can install Windows 10 twice.

Does a purchased Windows 10 have a digital entitlement?


strong>. There is a digital entitlement only when upgrading from Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 to Windows 10. It is based on the original license of the previous version. To activate Windows 10 during the upgrade, a hardware-biased “fingerprint” of the computer is created. This is then the digital entitlement.

Can one subsequently legitimize a Windows 10 pirated copy?

No< /strong>. Non-genuine Windows 10 copies will be flagged and will not be supported permanently. However, Microsoft has indicated that there may be special offers to legitimize pirated software.

What to do if activation doesn’t work?< /p>

First check the real status of the activation with “Windows key + I” / Update and securityActivation< /strong>.

If there is no Internet connection, you will see the message “Connect to the Internet to activate Windows“. Select “Activate” to start the activation process manually.

Sometimes it is successful to simply restart the computer the next day and wait for Windows to complete the Activation will take place on its own.

If you don’t want to wait, you can try activation by phone. To do this, start with “Windows key + R” and enter the command “slui.exe 4“. You will then see a drop down list of countries. Select “Germany”. Telephone numbers and the installation ID are displayed.

 Windows 10: Preparing for telephone activation Windows 10: Preparing to activate by phone

You should make a note of this and then call. You will automatically be asked for this ID and will be announced an installation key, which you should write down immediately. You then enter this key to activate it.

 Windows 10: Enter the ID you received over the phone Windows 10: Enter the ID received by phone

Dealing with common error codes

Error 0xC004C003: The product key did not work.

Error 0xC004F034: License could not be found or is invalid.

Error 0xC004F050 : The product key you entered does not work.

Sometimes these errors occur when the Windows server was unreachable during automatic activation. To fix, press “Windows key + I” / Update and security /Activation and select “Activate “. Restarting the computer the next day may also help.

Error 0xC004FC03: A network problem has occurred.

Check that you have installed the required drivers have to access the internet. Likewise, your firewall settings could be blocking activation.

Error 0xC004C008: The activation server reported that the product key was used too many times.

This message can occur when you have installed Windows with the same product key on several computers. Owners of OEM licenses or licenses bought (too) cheaply may also have been retrospectively blocked by Microsoft. Then you can try to negotiate an activation with the customer service who can activate Windows 10.

Error 0xC004C4AE: The authenticity check was detected as manipulated.

Error 0xC004E003: The software licensing service reports that the license evaluation failed.

These errors can occur if you have previously installed third-party software on your system, for example to install another system language. If so, you need to restore the state before installing the third-party software.

Error 0xC004E016: There was a problem installing Windows 10.

This error will usually occur if you entered an invalid product key or a product key from a different version of Windows.

Conclusion: Activate Windows 10

For a new installation of Windows 10 or for an upgrade to Windows 10 and after a hardware upgrade, a valid license key / product key, a digital license or a digital entitlement is required. Normally, activation then takes place automatically.

In the event of problems, you can trigger the activation yourself. Sometimes a restart the next day helps. If all else fails, you can try downgrading to the previous version with a valid product key. If nothing helps, Microsoft recommends contacting customer support.

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15 Amazing Shortcuts You Aren’t Using


  • Author: BRIGHT SIDE
  • Post date: 2019-02-28
  • Ratings: 4 ⭐ ( 5987 Ratings )
  • Match search results: If you wanna be a power user, you shouldn’t deny the usefulness of hotkeys. They improve your everyday work and give an absolute boost in your productivity. These hotkey combinations will certainly come in handy for every Windows and OS X user!

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    Create a virtual desktop 0:46
    Switch between virtual desktops 1:24
    Return to the desktop from apps 2:15
    Open an app from the taskbar 3:04
    Split-screen between two apps 3:50
    Switch apps 4:24
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    Open File Explorer 6:17
    Use the Magnifier 6:48
    Take screenshots 7:41
    Use Action Center 8:24
    Access the Settings 9:02
    Talk to Cortana or Siri 9:22
    Use the Windows Game Bar 10:02
    Lock down your PC 11:20

    Music by Epidemic Sound https://www.epidemicsound.com/

    – Press the Windows key + Ctrl + D or Control + Up if you use a Mac. It’ll switch to a new fresh desktop.
    – Push the Windows key + Ctrl or the Control key on a Mac. Now you can switch between all the virtual desktops you’ve made by using the left and right arrow keys.
    – If you have too many apps open and you need to use another one hidden behind all those windows on your desktop, you can minimize all of them at once by pushing the Windows key + M.
    – If you want much faster access to your most used apps, consider keeping them on your taskbar. It’ll speed up your workflow even more if you use the following combination: the Windows key + a number key from 1 to 9.
    – Open one app that you need for your work and press the Windows key + left arrow. Then, open another app and click the Windows key + right arrow. Now, two windows are sharing your screen!
    – Pressing Ctrl + Alt + Tab will show you all the apps currently running on your PC.
    – To avoid restarting your device and losing all your progress, try using the following combo: Ctrl + Shift + Esc or Command + Option + Escape if you’re working on a Mac.
    – Pressing the Windows key + E opens the file manager window on your PC. For Mac users, this is your Finder app.
    – The Windows key combined with the + or – key will open the magnifier app, which allows you to zoom in and out wherever you point your cursor.
    – Use the Windows key + Print Screen to take a screenshot and immediately save it in the Image folder on your hard drive.
    – To open Bluetooth, simultaneously press the Windows key + A. For Mac users, your Notification Center is always a click away in the top right-hand corner.
    – If you need more tweaking or access to more advanced parameters of your PC, you can have it all! Use the Windows key + I to do just that.
    – To open Cortana on Windows in listening mode, press the Windows key + C. And to summon Siri on Mac OS, hold Command and Space together. “Hey, Siri!”
    – If you suddenly need to step away from the computer but you don’t want anyone meddling in your stuff, you can quickly lock your user profile. Simply push the Windows key + L or Shift + Command + Q on a Mac.

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