What Will Happen If I Never Activate Windows 10?


Since the release of Windows 10 in 2019, millions of people globally have updated their Windows to the latest version. Surprisingly, you can conveniently download and install Windows 10 without entering the ‘product key’.

After a trial period of 30 days, windows demands to be activated.

Now, what if you don’t wish to activate windows? Would it run smoothly without bugging you? Are you going to miss on to some important and ‘necessary features’ of Windows 10? Would there be a performance penalty due to inactivation?

In the case of Windows XP unactivated version, Microsoft used ‘Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) to restrict access to your PC. But, now with Windows 10, you would only deal with certain cosmetic changes.

If you aim to never activate Windows 10, there are several pros and cons to it. Read on to know how much it is important for you to activate Windows 10:

Limitations of Running an Unactivated Windows 10:

Although Windows continue to work normally, but with numerous cosmetic restrictions. To get rid of these, you always have the option to get a licensed copy after installing Windows 10.

As you have installed Windows 10 without a product key, it would remain unactivated.

So, initially, Windows will nag you with a watermark in the bottom right corner of the Windows home screen. Moreover, at the bottom of Settings, you will see “Window isn’t activated. Activate Windows now.” However, there are not many pop-ups to activate windows or prevent you from performing your day-to-day tasks.

Activate Windows Go to Settings to activate Windows

Secondly, you will notice cosmetic restrictions, that is, you cannot change the desktop background. Another message is seen at the top in the Personalization section that “You need to activate Windows before you can personalize your PC”. All the options to personalize your computer are grayed out. You cannot change your sign-in profile picture or easily sync to other devices in your settings. But, yes, you can still add guest user accounts, set the pin, password, etc.

Personalize desktop wallpaper is only possible when WIN10 is activated.

The good news is you can still change the wallpaper. You can right-click on any of your favorite images in “File Explorer” and select the option “Set as desktop background”.  Windows 10 background images are also available under C: \Windows\Wed folder in the “File Explorer” to be chosen as a desktop background. This is a lot more convenient compared to what an unactivated Windows 7 did: a black background with no option to change it.

Apart from these minor restrictions, your Windows 10 will continue to run smoothly. Yes, the watermark is going to remind you time and again to activate Windows. But, eventually, we all become comfortable with it.

Is Windows 10 Illegal Without Activation?

Well, running Windows 10 without activation is illegal; but Microsoft has accepted it. In fact, since Windows 7, Microsoft has been quite lenient with its users in case of non-activation.

Moreover, pirated versions can never be activated, but it does increase the popularity of Microsoft’s Windows 10.

Now that it appears activating Windows 10 is not necessary, you should also keep the Microsoft retail license agreement in mind, where section 5 states:

“You are authorized to use this software only if you are properly licensed and the software has been properly activated with a genuine product key or by other authorized method.”

This makes it imperative to activate Windows 10 because you are violating one of the sections in the license. So, there is a possibility in the future that Microsoft bans the access to a lot of major features or your PC if you continue to run unactivated Windows.

Therefore, it is illegal to use Windows 10 without activation.

What if You Download Full Version of Windows 10 For Free?

As mentioned earlier, pirated versions increase the popularity of Windows 10. But, on the other end, your computer is at risk when you use third party sources to download Windows 10.

Is it Dangerous?

Possibly, a lot more than you can imagine. Downloading a free version of Windows 10 from third party sites can tamper with your software.

In simpler words, it’s an open invitation to viruses and malware. Because you are using an unactivated version of Windows 10, your Windows Defender and Firewall Protection aren’t going to be strong enough to counter the damage.

Malware can be a problem when you are using pirated version of Win10

Several malware track your passwords and personal information and may use your PC for mining cryptocurrency. Or they can run ads on your PC in the background to earn extra money.

Lastly, it’s another debate to determine whether Microsoft may land you in legal trouble or a huge fine for using Microsoft software illegally. So, better beware and choose between either activating Windows legally or, not activating it.

Does Windows 10 Slow Down If Not Activated?

Now, you must be wondering whether an unactivated Windows may cause performance issues.

Fortunately, you don’t face any trouble in this regard. The Windows 10 continues to run smoothly for as long as you finally decide to activate it.

What Is The Difference Between Windows 10 Activated And Unactivated?

Let’s be honest, an activated Windows offers greater perks to you than an unactivated version.

Obviously, that goes beyond the personalization thing.

Here’s why you should choose to activate your Windows 10:

Unlimited Access to Windows Features: When you activate Windows 10, it comes with various features such as systemwide dark mode, Focus Assist, Windows Hello, Windows Defender and Security, and many more.

Access to Microsoft Office: You have complete access to Microsoft Office in activated Windows 10. If you end up installing the trial or crack version, you will get constant pop-ups demanding you to activate. Which is quite annoying in the long run.

No More Cosmetic Restrictions and Better Personalization: The cosmetic restrictions are gone as you activate your Windows. The watermark is gone and the personalization features are also available.

Get Updates and Latest Features: With an unactivated Windows, you will miss out on the latest features that Windows launches as you don’t receive the updates. After activation, you can catch up on everything Microsoft has to offer.

Constant Bug Fixes: Windows is a lot more than developing new features and updating them. Rather Microsoft continually works to fix small bugs and issues. The bugs can influence your interaction with Windows OS and other Microsoft apps.

Security Updates: An insecure Windows is an easy bait to cybercriminals and hackers. But, with constant security updates to identify the latest viruses, malware, and cyber threats; your Windows cannot be defeated easily. This is especially important for businesses that need to keep their identity, data, and information protected.

Protection from Ransomware: Companies or individuals who have been through it understand it well. Ransomware is a nightmare. Hackers take over your system, extract all your data and information, and blackmail you. Therefore, keeping Windows 10 activated is your guard against ransomware.

How Long Can You Run Windows 10 Unactivated?

Ever thought how long you can continue to run Windows 10 without activation or product key?

In simpler words, it’s forever. But, over time, several features are disabled and you stop getting the latest updates.

The great part is Microsoft no longer forces it’s users to buy a license by disabling most of the features or through constant system reboots.

Luckily, installation without a product key is possible. After installation, you have complete access to Windows 10 features for a month. Then, a few cosmetic limitations and access issues arise that one can easily bear with, including:

  • No Theme Changes
  • No More Personalization
  • No More Lock Screen Option
  • No Access to all the Latest Updates (Only some of them would be accessible)
  • Missing out on Many Features of Activated Windows
  • Limited Access to Microsoft Office

How to Activate Windows 10?

You can easily activate Windows by opening up the Settings App, clicking on the Update & Security Option, and choosing the ‘Activation’ option. Now, choose the ‘Go to Store’ option and you can purchase the official Windows license from here easily. The cost for Home version of Windows 10 is about $120 and for the Pro version, it’s $200.

(Add a screenshot of App of $120 or Pro version of $199 in the app store)

If you are unable to activate through the app, you can also activate by calling up Microsoft office and getting a product key on message. Once you enter it, your Windows will get activated.

However, if you try to play a trick by entering a product key being used on another computer; Windows will not get activated.

Why? Because as soon as you activate your Windows, all the hardware information is extracted by Microsoft to associate the product key with your computer.

So, even if you are thinking to change your computer; you will have to talk to Microsoft to help you with the transfer of the product key to your new computer. 

Final Verdict:

All in all, Windows 10 can work efficiently without activation, yet it is not recommended at all. You might be getting updates so far, but Microsoft can decide to delay or block updates for unactivated Windows. Moreover, if you are using Windows 10 for commercial purposes or business ventures, it’s better to update it to prevent hackers from accessing your data.

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