How long can you use Windows 10 without activation?

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Matthew is a freelancer who has produced a variety of articles on various topics related to technology. His main focus is the Windows OS and all the things surrounding it. He is passionate about... Read more
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  • It's not really a problem to use an unactivated Windows 10 copy.
  • You can use Windows 10 without a product key for a month until some user restrictions are applied.
  • The Activation tab from Settings will include a notification to activate Windows with a product key.
  • If you want to get rid of the restrictions you will need to buy a product key from a retailer.
How long can Windows 10 be used without activation
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Microsoft launched Windows 10 in 2015 with a one-year free upgrade offer for Win 7 users. Today, Win 10 is retailing on Amazon.com for about $85.

So, some users might assume that they can no longer freely upgrade from previous Windows platforms to Windows 10.

However, users can freely download the Windows 10 disc image (ISO) file from Microsoft’s website with the media creation utility. Users can upgrade to Win 10 with that file.

During the Win 10 installation, users will be asked to enter a product key. Then they can click I don’t have a product key to install the OS without a product key.

Users will have then upgraded to an unactivated Windows 10. The unactivated version comes with some relatively minor restrictions. For example, users can’t change desktop wallpapers or themes within the unactivated Windows 10; and some of the platform’s apps will not work.

Most users have no idea that they can still upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge. Learn how to do that from this excellent guide.


How long can I run Windows 10 without activation?

Some users might then wonder how long they can continue to run Windows 10 without activating the OS with a product key.

Users can utilize an unactivated Windows 10 without any restrictions for one month after installing it. However, that only means the user restrictions come into effect after one month.

Thereafter, users will see some Activate Windows now notifications. Windows will send out regular notifications requesting that users activate an unactivated Windows 10.

Furthermore, the Activation tab in Settings will include a notification requesting that users activate the OS with a product key. Their users can click Change product key to activate Windows 10 or change the product key with another one.

However, users can leave Windows 10 unactivated. In fact, users can continue to utilize the unactivated Win 10 with the few restrictions it has. Thus, Windows 10 can run indefinitely without activation.

So, users can utilize the unactivated platform for as long as they wish at the moment. Note, however, that Microsoft’s retail agreement only authorizes users to utilize Windows 10 with a valid product key.

More and more Windows 7 users are now upgrading to Win 10 as Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 7 from 2020.

Some of them are probably purchasing the OS from Amazon or Microsoft, but remember that you can also use Windows 10 without a product key.

Instead, users can freely download the Windows 10 ISO to upgrade to a slightly restricted Win 10 without needing a product key.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • No, you don’t, but after a month you will have some restrictions. Here’s a useful guide on how you can change a Windows 10 product key.

  • You can use Windows 10 without activation indefinitely but after one month some user restrictions will come into place. Here’s a great article that will provide more details.

  • No, it will not expire and you will be able to use it without activation. However, you can activate Windows 10 even with an older version key.

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