The Windows 11 software is not sold in copies, like a newspaper or a book, but licensed: although it is counterintuitive for a user, the purchase of the installation disk, as provided by the manufacturer, does not attribute ownership of the copy of the operating system, but only the right to install and use it within the limits of the EULA (end-user license agreement), or the license that accompanies. This right is ultimately represented by the mere availability of a license key, the so-called Product Key, which uniquely identifies the contract with the single end-user, and is verified online by Microsoft at any relevant hardware installation or modification.
Here we will explain just how to activate Windows 11 with or without a product key, analyzing all the facets related to the license and the procedures for verifying the digital code provided by Microsoft. You will then be able to legally use your copy of the operating system.
Types of Windows 11 activation
The purpose of the online activation of the Windows 11 operating system is to guarantee the authenticity of the license concerning the use made of it: this was necessary because, originally, the Product Key was a simple block of the program. of installation, and it was enough to insert a valid one (even if already in use) to circumvent it, resulting in huge economic damage for Microsoft.
The activation procedure is now linked to the hardware on which the system runs because Windows will communicate the characteristics of the motherboard to be sure that the same Product Key is not used simultaneously on multiple PCs. In general, therefore, the activation procedure will be necessary in these cases:
- Upgrade from an old version of Windows
- Clean installation of the operating system
- Downgrade or upgrade to a different edition (for example from Windows 11 Home to Pro)
- Motherboard change if OEM license
- Change PC if the license is RETAIL or ESD (the license can be reused, but Windows 11 must be activated again).
What happens if I don’t activate Windows 11
In the past, an unactivated copy of Windows became essentially unusable. Currently, however, Microsoft still allows you to use the main features of the system, albeit with numerous limitations (appearance of the desktop, lack of updates, etc.). This path, as well as contrary to the license agreements that require you to activate Windows 11, however, cannot be considered valid in the case of commercial use of the system.
How to Activate Windows 11 without Product Key?
Yes, in some cases, it is possible to activate Windows 11 without a product key (purchasing a new license), but only in cases of the homogeneous upgrade, so if for example, you switch from Windows 10 Home to Windows 11 Home, from Windows 10 Professional to Windows 11 Pro and so on.
To understand what you need to do to take advantage of the same Windows license during the upgrade, we have discussed below how to switch from Windows 7 to Windows 10. By following one of the procedures described below, you should be able to get Windows 11 for free from Windows 10, as Microsoft still allows you to do this. The only discriminating factor for the free passage is the currently active user license.
Upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 10 for free
To get started, download Microsoft’s free tool to get your copy of Windows 11; the tool is called Media Creation Tool and you can download it for free on any computer with Windows 10.
To start the download, click on the Download tool button. Once the operation is finished, double-click on the executable file to start it and wait for the preliminary operations to finish: in this phase, the tool will check if the machine is ready for the update or if there is any problem.
If the tool does not report any problem, you can proceed with the actual update, by clicking on the Accept button on the license page and waiting until the home page appears, where you must make sure that the Update PC now item is checked, so you can then click on Next.
The tool will start downloading the Windows 11 ISO image and will install it on your PC with Windows 10; if you leave all settings unchanged, the Keep data and schedules option will already be active.
In the meantime, however, you can continue to use the PC, with the precautions to never close the Media Creation Tool window and not to shut it down, restart it, suspend it or hibernate it manually.
In the most delicate phase of the update, your computer will automatically restart several times: all you have to do is wait until the Windows 11 welcome screen appears.
Note: It is not possible to activate Windows 11 for free without an activated copy of Windows 10. We don’t provide any activation keys for Windows 11 here. It is illegal. Installing Windows 11 OS without a license is not illegal, but activating it through other means without an officially purchased key is illegal. So, consider purchasing a new Windows 11 Product Key. You can do it from this Microsoft Store address. The operation is feasible in full legality, and will certainly save you a lot of time.