Why is my Windows not activated?

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Sometimes when starting up your PC, whether it be a new system or a PC you’ve had for some time you may encounter the “Activate Windows” watermark on your screen.  If you suddenly see this and find yourself unable to change your system’s background, don’t panic!  This may simply be an error that is fairly easy to resolve.


To start, it is recommended to check the Activation settings in Windows itself to see what the issue is.  To open these settings, go through the following steps:

  • Open your Start Menu and click the gear icon to open the Window Settings
  • At the Settings screen, choose “Updates & Security”
  • On the left sidebar, choose “Activation”



On this screen Windows should give you an idea of why the system is not activated.  Common activation errors include but are not limited to:

  • “Windows can’t activate right now.  Try activating later…”
  • “Windows reported that the hardware of your device has changed.”
  • “Windows reported that no product key was found on your device.”

Depending on the error, there are a few steps that can be taken to resolve the issue.

Automated Windows Troubleshooting

Built into Windows is an automated troubleshooting tool that can force a reactivation of Windows.  To use this, all you need to do is click the “Troubleshoot” button on the Activation settings window.  If successful, the Activate Windows watermark should disappear and your activation status should change to reflect this.



Updating your Windows Product Key

If the automated troubleshooting tool is unable to reactivate Windows, then the next step would be to update your Windows Product Key.  If this is a self-built PC or an NZXT BLD Kit, your product key should be located on a sticker included with your copy of Windows.


If the PC was pre-built however, then there is a good chance that your Windows Product Key is digitally injected to your motherboard’s UEFI and should normally be automatically detected by Windows.  If it is not however, you can retrieve your Windows Product Key from within Windows itself.

To retrieve an injected Windows Product Key, search for “CMD” in your Start Menu to bring up the Command Prompt application.  Right-click the application and select “Run as Administrator” to bring up the Command Prompt window.

From here, type in the following command and press enter:

wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey

CMD-Output.pngIf done correctly, Windows should report back your system’s injected Windows Product Key.

After retrieving your key, click the “Change product key” option in your Activation settings window and re-enter your key.  If done properly, the Activate Windows watermark should disappear and your activation status should change to reflect this.

If you are unable to locate or retrieve your product key however, it is recommended to reach out to the manufacturer of your system to see if the product key is on file or if a replacement can be provided.  If you purchased an NZXT BLD system and are still experiencing issues, please reach out to our customer service team here:  https://nzxt.com/support

It is recommended when reaching out for assistance to also provide a screenshot showing the error as well as the product key reported in Command Prompt.

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