Fix Windows 10 Activation Problems Using Built-in Troubleshooter

In this topic, we are going to review the build-in Activation Troubleshooter tool which comes in the recently released Windows 10 Anniversary Update. This new tool will help Windows 10 users in addressing and fixing various activation issues within few clicks.

When Microsoft released Windows 10 final RTM build to public, the company announced free upgrade offer for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users. People who were using genuine and activated Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 operating system in their computers, could upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

This upgrade process didn't require any product key as Windows 10 linked the machine ID and original Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 product key with the Windows 10 license at Microsoft servers. So once you successfully upgraded your Windows 7/8.1 computer to Windows 10 and activated your machine, the activation information was saved on Microsoft activation servers forever and in future if you format and reinstall Windows 10 on your computer, it'll be reactivated automatically as your machine ID and Windows 10 edition information is already saved at Microsoft servers.

This new mechanism was initially called Digital Entitlement and now known as Digital License. It helps users in getting their Windows 10 edition activated quickly and easily without any need of entering product keys.


Later Microsoft also allowed people to directly install and activate Windows 10 using their original Windows 7/8.1 product key. It helped people in performing a clean install of Windows 10 in their computers and activating it using their previous Windows OS product key.

Read more: Now You can Activate Windows 10 Using Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 Product Key

You need to enter a genuine Windows 10 product key only if you don't have a genuine Windows 7/8.1 OS and you purchase a new Windows 10 license. In this case you'll need to enter product key at the time of Windows 10 installation.

But sometimes even if you have successfully activated Windows 10 in your computer previously, you might face problems in activating it again if you reinstall it. For example:

  • You changed some hardware in your computer such as the motherboard or hard disk.
  • You install a different Windows 10 edition. For example, previously you activated Windows 10 core (home or basic) edition and now you install Windows 10 pro edition, then it'll not activate.
  • You crossed the limit of activation count provided on your machine.
  • There might be many other reasons which may cause activation problems.

To solve Windows 10 activation problems in such cases, Microsoft has introduced a built-in activation troubleshooter in Windows 10. Now Windows 10 allows you to link your Microsoft Account (MSA) with Windows activation or digital license so that in future as soon as you reinstall Windows 10 and sign in using your Microsoft Account, it'll automatically activate itself.

As we know Windows 10 allows users to login using Microsoft Account (Windows Live ID, Hotmail, Outlook, etc) and if you already did it, Windows would have already linked your Microsoft Account with Windows activation license at Microsoft servers. Now you can activate Windows 10 any time in future on the same machine by sign in using same Microsoft Account ID.

If you didn't sign in using Microsoft Account and created a local user account, you can link your Microsoft Account with Windows activation using following simple steps:

1. Open Settings app from Start Menu or by pressing WIN+I keys together.

2. Now go to Update & security -> Activation section.

PS: Alternatively, You can directly launch this page using "ms-settings:activation" command in RUN dialog box as mentioned here.

3. Here you'll find an option to "Add a Microsoft Account" to unlock the ability to reactivate Windows 10 on the device.


Once you successfully add and associate your Microsoft Account with Windows 10 activation on your machine, in future if you reinstall Windows 10 on same machine and face activation issues, you can use the built-in activation troubleshooter which will help you in addressing activation issues and reactivating Windows 10 using your associated Microsoft Account ID.

To launch built-in activation troubleshooter, follow these simple steps:

1. Open Settings app from Start Menu or by pressing WIN+I keys together.

2. Now go to Update & security -> Activation section.

3. Now you'll find an option "Troubleshoot" to fix the activation problems.


The tool will detect activation problems and will reactivate Windows 10 successfully using your linked Microsoft Account or digital entitlement (license). Just click on option "I changed hardware on this device recently" and it'll ask you to login using your linked Microsoft Account. After sign in it'll show list of devices linked with your Microsoft Account. Select the current device from the list and check the option "This is the device I'm using right now" and then click on Activate button.

So basically you just need to link your Microsoft Account with an activated Windows 10 machine once and in future if you reinstall Windows 10 on that machine, you can fix activation issues using built-in activation troubleshooter.


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Posted in: Troubleshooting, Windows 10

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