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5 ways to validate whether Windows is activated and genuine

Do you use Windows 10, Windows 7 or Windows 8.1? Do you want to know whether your Windows is activated and genuine? Do you need to know whether activated copies of Windows are also genuine? If the answer is yes, read this article. We explain how Windows activation works, how to check if your Windows is activated, and how to find out if your copy of Windows is genuine. Let's start:

NOTE: This guide works in Windows 10, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. We tested all the methods we described, in all three versions. Some methods work only in some versions of Windows, so we mentioned that in their sections titles accordingly.

1. How to check if Windows 10 is activated from the Settings app

If you are using Windows 10, there is a quick and easy way for you to check its activation status. Start by opening the Settings app and then, go to Update & Security.

The Update & Security section from the Settings app

On the left side of the window, click or tap Activation. Then, look on the right side, and you should see the activation status of your Windows 10 computer or device.

The Activation page from the Settings app

In our case, Windows 10 is activated with a digital license linked to our Microsoft account. Windows 10 can also be activated using a product key that can be purchased in many ways. If you want to learn more about the activation methods and types of licenses, read this documentation from Microsoft: Activation in Windows 10.

The Microsoft Activation in Windows 10 website

2. How to check whether Windows is activated, using the Control Panel (all Windows versions)

This method applies to all modern versions of Windows, and it starts by opening the Control Panel. If you do not know how to open it, read this guide: 14 ways to start the Control Panel in Windows (all versions).

Then, go to System and Security and click or tap System.

The System link from the Control Panel

The System section opens. Here you can see information about your computer or device. Scroll down until you find the _Windows Activatio_n section.

The System panel from the Control Panel

In Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, you should see a line stating whether Windows is activated or not, just like in the screenshot below.

The Windows Activation section from the Control Panel in Windows 10

In Windows 7, you should see the same line, and also a badge on the right, that says "ask for genuine Microsoft software."

The Windows Activation section from the Control Panel in Windows 7

3. How to check if Windows is activated by simply opening the Settings app in Windows 10

An alternative way to quickly check whether your Windows 10 is activated or not is to simply open the Settings app. Open it and, if you see a text that says "Windows isn't activated. Activate Windows now." displayed on the bottom, then it is clear that your Windows 10 is not activated.

The Settings app showing that Windows 10 needs to be activated

If you do not see the text, then your Windows is most likely activated.

4. How to check if Windows is activated by simply opening the PC Settings screen in Windows 8.1

In Windows 8.1, open the PC Settings screen. If the first thing you see on the left of the screen is an option called "Activate Windows" then it means that your Windows 8.1 is not activated.

The PC Settings screen showing that Windows 8.1 need to be activated

If you do not see it and the first thing on the menu is "PC and devices", then it is likely that your Windows 8.1 is activated.

5. How to check whether Windows is activated, using the Command Prompt or PowerShell (all Windows versions)

Another method that works in all modern versions of Windows is to check whether your Windows is activated from the Command Prompt or PowerShell. Launch the Command Prompt or PowerShell and type the command "slmgr /xpr." Press Enter and you should see a prompt saying whether your Windows machine is activated or not. Click or tap OK, and you are done.

The slmgr /xpr command in Windows Powershell

If you want to know more about the slmgr command-line tool and how it works, type this command without any parameters in Command Prompt or Powershell. Several prompts are shown, with information about all the parameters that can be used and what they do.

The slmgr command in PowerShell

You can also read the documentation from Microsoft: Slmgr.vbs Options for Volume Activation.

How to check whether your Windows is genuine

Activation is a process that is built into Windows. It helps to verify that your copy of Windows is genuine. When your Windows is genuine, you are eligible to receive all product updates and product support from Microsoft. If it is not genuine, you still get security updates but not much else. Also, you are regularly asked to activate your copy of Windows, by providing a genuine product key.

The activation checks are regularly made by Windows. The first time it takes place is when you install Windows or when you first use a newly purchased PC or device with Windows. Another time an activation check is made is when you attempt to download optional updates from Microsoft. Significant hardware changes inside your computer can also trigger automatic activation checks.

Pirated versions of Windows may initially be activated and start working without issues but, after a few weeks of use, it is likely that Microsoft's activation checks identify this problem and you are going to be asked to activate your copy of Windows by providing a valid product key. Therefore, it is safe to assume that, if your Windows is activated, most probably it is also genuine.

However, even if your Windows is activated, you cannot be 100% sure that it is also genuine unless you get it from a trusted source. To educate users and make sure that they are not scammed into purchasing non-genuine hardware and software, Microsoft has created a portal with information on this topic. Check it out and learn how to make sure that you always buy genuine software and hardware.

How to find the Windows product key

If your Windows is activated, everything is well and working. At this step, you may also want to know your product key, so that you can write it down somewhere and reuse it, in case you need it in the future. For this task, you can use a free third-party app like the ones we recommend in this article: 6 free apps that help you find your lost Windows product key.

Is your copy of Windows activated? Is it genuine?

Now that you have read our guide let us know what you have found: is your Windows installation activated? Is it genuine? Use the comments section below to share your experience.