- If Windows 11 is not accepting the product key, it's likely a trivial issue and you shouldn't be bothered if the key was purchased from an official source.
- The problem generally lies with the server or you are entering an incorrect key, and it's easy to fix them.
- Also, find out what to do if the Windows 10 product key is not working.
The product key helps activate Windows and ensures that it’s a genuine copy not registered on more devices than permitted. It consists of 25 characters. But several users have reported that Windows 11 is not accepting their product key.
This does not necessarily indicate that the key you have is no longer valid, as suggested by the error message. There are a lot of reasons why you cannot activate your copy of Windows 11.
The trick here lies in identifying what’s causing the issue on your computer. We have dedicated this guide to simplify the troubleshooting process and get your copy of Windows 11 activated. Go through it and by the time you are done, the OS would be activated.
Why is Microsoft not accepting my product key?
One of the most common reasons why Microsoft is not accepting your product key is when the one entered has already been used on the maximum allowed devices. In this case, you must buy a new copy of Windows 11 or a product key.
Other than that, some users also fell victims to counterfeit or incorrect keys. There are many websites that claim to offer genuine product keys for free or at a reduced price. But, these are not reliable and it’s recommended that you buy one from an official source.
Also, there’s a likelihood that the Microsoft servers that deal with activation are currently down. That’s why you are always asked to wait for a few hours or even a couple of days before going for some advanced troubleshooting or getting a new key.
Besides, there are several activation error codes that might shed some light on the underlying cause. We have listed them below, and if you see any of these, just head to the linked guide to fix them if Windows 11 is not activated.
- Windows 11 activation error 0xc004c003: One of the most common activation errors and relatively simple to fix
- Activation error 0xc004f213 in Windows 11: Generally caused to a faulty Internet connection or an incorrect key
- 0x87e10bc6 Activation error in Windows 11: Encountered when the firewall blocks the connection
- Windows 11 activation error 0xc004f050: You encounter this when the Windows Update Components are corrupt
- Activation error 0x87e107f9 in Windows 11: Caused when either the servers are down or the key entered is for a different edition
Now that you have a basic understanding of the process, and know the common activation errors, let’s head to the most effective solutions when Windows 11 is not accepting the product key.
What do I do if Windows 11/10 is not accepting the product key?
1. Check if Windows is already activated
- Press Windows + I to launch the Settings app, and click on Activation on the right in the System tab.
- Now, check if the Activation state reads Active. If that’s the case, Windows is already activated.
The first thing you must check is whether Windows 11 is already activated. In many cases, users go around activating an already registered version of the OS, and that’s why Windows 11 is not accepting the product key.
In case Windows 11 is not activated and you still encounter the error, proceed with the methods listed next.
2. Make sure you are entering the right product key
Oftentimes, users make the mistake of entering the wrong product key. Microsoft has pretty much automated the process, and you don’t need to manually enter the key in case you are upgrading from Windows 10.
But if you are installing Windows 11 for the first time, verify that all the characters are entered correctly. People often confuse between 8 and B, so check for issues like this.
Also, check that you are activating the right edition. For instance, you cannot use a Windows 11 Home product key for Windows 11 Pro edition.
3. Check the Internet connection
You need a stable Internet connection in order to activate Windows 11. And for many users, this was the reason Windows 11 was not accepting the product key.
So, make sure that the Internet connection works fine, and that you are not getting slow speed. Also, use a network speed monitor to keep a tab of it, and once the speed is stable, go ahead with the activation.
4. Run the Windows Activation troubleshooter
- Press Windows + I to launch the Settings app, and click on Activation on the right.
- Locate and click on the Troubleshoot option here.
- Wait for the troubleshooter to run, and choose the appropriate response when prompted to complete the process.
The built-in troubleshooter is pretty helpful when Windows 11 product key is not working. It will automatically identify and eliminate the problem in no time.
Remember that you can only run the troubleshooter when logged in through an administrator account. Also, if the troubleshooter is missing, it’s most likely that Windows 11 is already activated.
If this method too doesn’t work, head to the last one for Windows 11.
5. Reset the Windows 11 license status
- Press Windows + S to launch the Search menu, enter Terminal in the text field, right-click on the relevant search result, and select Run as administrator.
- Click Yes in the UAC (User Account Control) prompt that appears.
- Now, click on the downward-facing arrow and select Command Prompt to open it in a new tab. Alternatively, you can hit Ctrl + Shift + 2.
- Next, paste the following command and hit Enter to reset the license status:
Once done, restart the computer and Windows 11 should be accepting the product key.
Though highly unlikely, if this method fails to work, you can do a clean install of Windows 11 and then activate it, since there’s a chance that the installation did not go through properly the last time.
What do I do if the Windows 10 product key is not working?
1. Run the SFC scan
- Press Windows + R to launch the Run command, enter cmd in the text field, hold the Ctrl + Shift key, and either click on OK or hit Enter to launch an elevated Command Prompt.
- Click Yes in the UAC prompt that appears.
- Now, paste the following command and hit Enter to run the SFC scan:
If the Windows 10 product key is not working, running an SFC (System File Checker) scan could do the trick, since one of the underlying causes here is the presence of corrupt system files. And there’s is no simpler way than an SFC scan to fix corrupt files.
2. Activate Windows using Command Prompt
- Enter Command Prompt in the search bar, and click on Run as administrator from the options on the right.
- Click Yes in the UAC prompt that pops up.
- Now, paste the following command and hit Enter to activate Windows 10. Make sure to replace the X’s here with the actual product key.
slmgr.vbs -ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx
Sometimes, simply changing the activation method could fix things if Windows is not accepting the product key issue. And many users were able to get their copy registered using the Command Prompt, so make sure to give this method a try.
3. Run SLUI 4 command
- Press Windows + R to launch the Run dialog box, type SLUI 4, and press Enter.
- Choose your country from the dropdown menu, and click on Next.
- Now, simply call one of the listed numbers and follow the instructions provided by Microsoft Support.
If nothing else works, you always have the option to get in touch with the local Microsoft support. Make sure to keep the installation ID listed here with you to help the support team better assist you and get Windows 10 to accept the product key.
Is Windows 11 a free upgrade?
Yes, Windows 11 is free but for those running the latest version of Windows 10 and the computer has to meet the minimum system requirements for Windows 11.
If that’s the case, you should receive an update for it, and can easily make the upgrade. But if Windows 11 is not showing up in Windows Update, there are other ways to upgrade to the latest iteration.
The latest iteration from Microsoft is an incredible operating system, simple to use, and the best of all, it’s a free upgrade.
Also, you now know what to do if Windows 11 is not accepting the product key and would have fixed the problem.
Besides, find out how to upgrade to Windows 11 on an unsupported PC.
If you have any other queries or know of a way that’s not listed here, drop a comment in the section below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. You can run the Windows 10 OS without any functional limitations if you don’t activate your license key.
Third-party websites have been known to offer genuine Windows 10 license key, but the only way you can be sure it is legitimate is if you test it using specialized software.
Yes. By using the Installation ISO provided by Microsoft and by following certain steps, you should be able to upgrade from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 to 10 without any issues.