Activating Windows 7

Activating Windows 7

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Sometimes when talking to friends either in person or online, they’ll ask me questions about work-related topics like software piracy or activating Windows, or they’ll tell me about notifications they’ve seen on their PC that relate to Windows Activation Technologies. A few days ago, a friend of mine happened to mention in a Facebook status update that he’d seen a notification from Windows 7 informing him that he might be a victim of software counterfeiting. You might be in the same situation, so I want to pass along why this might be happening and some things that you can try to resolve the issue.

First, let’s talk about activation. Activation is required for all editions of Windows, and helps you verify that Windows running on your PC is genuine and hasn’t been used on more computers than the software licensing terms allow. In general, the rule to remember for most copies of Windows is 1:1, meaning that one product key can activate Windows running on one PC. So in this way, activation helps prevent software counterfeiting.

The message that my friend saw is one of the built-in notifications in Windows 7 that’s used to let you know when Windows hasn’t been properly activated after it’s installed. To resolve the notifications, all you need to do is activate Windows with a genuine product key. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Locate your product key. Microsoft product keys contain 25 characters divided into groups of five, and are located on the proof of license label attached to your DVD case or on a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached to your PC. Visit Microsoft’s How to Tell site to learn how to identify your Windows 7 proof of license label or COA.

2. Click the Start button and then right-click Computer.

3. Click Properties.

4. Click Change product key at the bottom of the dialog box.

5. Follow the instructions to change your product key and activate Windows 7.

If you do not have a genuine product key, you can visit the Microsoft Store or an authorized Microsoft reseller to get genuine Windows.

Until next time!

- Jodi

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  • I follow all the steps:

    1. I have my product key, 2. clicked Start, right-clicked Computer, 3. clicked properties, AND...

    NO "change product key" button to click!

    How to activate my Win 7 Professional?


  • Why people who upgraded their PC to Windows 7 are not able to use the full version of Windows, - actually, - they paid even more for the previous version (for example: Vista), - had a lot of problems with it, - and now, - they need to pay for full version of new software again? Is it right?

  • Is there any chance i could buy only activation product key, then upgrade my windows 7 RC to the full version??

  • Marc D
    1 Posts

    We are a school in Florence Italy. Recently we upgraded 15 pcs to Windows 7. At first they worked fine, but after a few weeks a message 'This copy of Window is not genuine' began to appear on the screen. The upgrades were purchased directly from DELL Computers, so they are certianly 'genuine'.

    There was a need however to install all of the upgrades two separate times. The first time we did an upgrade which kept the programs. Unfortunately we had some errors and decided to reinstall everything from scratch. The systems work fine, but that message 'not genuine' still appears on the sceen and some systems have windows poping up about 'how to' register etc. Could you help?

  • Sorry to hear about your hardware issue!  Not to worry, though – reinstallation should not cause any product activation issues. Just make sure you have the Windows 7 full version (not upgrade version).  If you have the upgrade, then you will need to install the base operating system first and upgrade from there.

  • I have upgraded my 32-bit laptop from Win XP to Win 7, but recently my hard drive has crashed.  Let me also mention that since October 22, 2009, my laptop has been working fine and I was one very happy customer until this week.

    Would I have any problems in re-installing Win 7 on a new hard drive on the same computer?