If you’re a Windows 10 user with a legit software or OEM license key, your OS might be telling you to activate it. You’re not alone. A lot of users are suddenly seeing the same message and it doesn’t matter if you have an OEM license, a software license, or if you upgraded from Windows 7 or 8/8.1. If you’re wondering why Windows 10 suddenly deactivated on its own, the answer is: server problems.
UPDATE: Microsoft appears to have fixed this problem. Run the activation troubleshooter and it should activate Windows 10 for you. If you’re still getting the Activate Windows message, you can wait out the full 2 day period and then get in touch with customer service, or you can try getting in touch with them now.
Microsoft has acknowledged the problem. It appears to be caused by servers that are responsible for authenticating licenses and product keys. There is plenty of chatter about it in the forums and the following statement has been made.
Microsoft has just released an Emerging issue announcement about current activation issue related to Pro edition recently. This happens in Japan, Korea, American and many other countries.I am very sorry to inform you that there is a temporary issue with Microsoft’s activation server at the moment and some customers might experience this issue where Windows is displayed as not activated.
Our engineers are working tirelessly to resolve this issue and it is expected to be corrected within one to two business days.
What to do?
Before you get your pitchforks out over yet another Microsoft product related problem, know that servers can go down. You can get angry at the company for not maintaining them better or you can cut them a little slack over something that can and does happen to other tech companies.
Microsoft is working on a fix and the problem ought to be resolved in 2 days time. You can wait that period out. It’s almost the weekend so that shouldn’t be too hard.
One alternative solution, though it’s anecdotal at this point, was posted by Reddit user Luttappy and they say you should get in touch with Microsoft Support. They’ll remote into your system, mess around with the slmgr utility and tie you over for the two days that it will take to fix the problem.
Why is this happening?
As stated above, this has to do with servers responsible for authenticating your Windows 10 license. You might be wondering why, after years of owning an authentic license, the servers have suddenly decided to mark your license as fake.
This has to do with how Microsoft prevents counterfeit licenses from working. Every major Windows 10 update, and some minor ones check your license to make sure it’s real. Your OS also periodically runs these checks to ensure you have a legit license and it’s been doing this since before Windows 7. You know those super cheap licenses you get for Windows 10 that work for a while and then stop, this is how they’re caught. Microsoft runs checks via the OS to make sure your license is a real, legal one.
Since the servers are down and/or experiencing problems, it’s marking legit licenses as fake. It’s most likely because your Windows 10 copy suddenly cannot contact the servers that it’s giving you this message. Hang tight, and Microsoft will have a fix for it.
As a precaution, backup the product key you have right now. We don’t know what kind of solution Microsoft will give us. It might fix things on the back end and users may not have to do anything about it, or it may ask for your key again in which case, it’s good to have it handy.