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How to Activate Windows 8.1 for Free

Two Parts:Recovering a Lost KeyActivating Windows 8.1Community Q&A

When you first acquire Windows 8.1 you will need to activate it within a specific time period for you to continue using it.


Activating the program is simple, with the instructions and activation key already included in the installer's package.


If you somehow lose the activation key however, there are alternative ways to activate the operating system.

Part 1
Recovering a Lost Key

  1. 1
    Download a key retrieval program. Your Windows Product key is buried in the registry, but it can be easily extracted by using a free key retrieval program. Two of the most popular options are ProductKey and Key Finder.
    • Both of these programs are free and can be downloaded from the developers' websites. Both offer paid versions, but your Windows key can be retrieved with the free version.
  2. 2
    Start the key retrieval program. You typically will not need to install the program. Simply run it and a list of available keys will be displayed. Find the "Windows" entry to find your key.
  3. 3
    Write the key down or copy it. Your key will be listed as "Product Key" or "CD Key". The Windows Product Key is 25 characters split into five groups of five characters each.

Part 2
Activating Windows 8.1

  1. 1
    Open the Activation window. Open the Activation window by pressing Win+R and typing slui 3. Press Enter to open the window.
  2. 2
    Enter your product key. Enter the key that you either recovered, received with your Windows purchase, or is affixed to your computer on a sticker. You do not need to type the dashes, as they will be added automatically. Windows will automatically attempt to activate as soon as the key is entered.
  3. 3
    Try the Command Prompt. If the steps above don't work, you can try to enter the key through an elevated Command Prompt. Press Win+X and select "Command Prompt (Admin)".
    • Type slmgr.vbs /ipk XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX and press Enter, replacing the XXXXXs with your product key. Be sure to include the dashes. A window should appear saying "Installed product key XXXXX successfully."
    • Type slmgr.vbs /ato and press Enter. A window should appear saying "Activating Windows(R) Your Edition". After a moment, if activation was successful, it will say "Product activated successfully".
  4. 4
    Call Microsoft if you still can't activate. If you are still having activation issues, you can call the Microsoft automated activation service. To find the number for your area, press Win+R and type slui 4. This will open the window with the contact information as well as your installation ID.
    • Make sure to copy down the installation ID, as you will need to enter it over the phone. It's long, but necessary to identify your computer.[1]

Community Q&A

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  • My computer does not have a win+R key. Is there a different key I can press?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Win+R is referring to two different keys. Hold down the key with the Windows logo on it (near the bottom, with the icon of four squares grouped into a larger square) and then press the "R" key at the same time.
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Tips

  • Product keys are already included in the Windows 8.1 package. If you already have yours, you don't need to install one using the command prompt.
  • Product keys can only be used on a limited number of computers. If you've reached the maximum number of computers, the key will be detected invalid.
  • This article is written only for tutorial purposes. Always purchase and activate genuine Windows 8.1 OS to avoid software issues.
  • Microsoft has made things quite easier for the users in the new operating system and for that they have also made changes to the way the product key is now available to the users. The new Windows 8 product key now comes embedded in the BIOS of the computer and not on a sticker that is usually placed at the bottom of the laptops. This has affected many users in many different ways as there are many users that are happy and not so happy about it. Here we take a quick look at the pros and cons of the new embedded Windows 8 product key.
  • Be careful doing this with an Xbox. It may brick your device.

Article Info

Categories: Windows 8

In other languages:

Русский: бесплатно активировать Windows 8.1, Português: Ativar o Windows 8.1 Gratuitamente, Français: activer Windows 8.1 gratuitement, Deutsch: Windows 8.1 kostenlos aktivieren, Italiano: Attivare Windows 8.1 Gratis, 中文: 免费激活Windows 8.1, Nederlands: Windows 8.1 gratis activeren, Español: activar Windows 8.1 de manera gratuita, Bahasa Indonesia: Mengaktifkan Windows 8.1 Secara Gratis, Čeština: Jak zdarma aktivovat Windows 8.1, العربية: تفعيل نظام التشغيل Windows 8.1 مجّانًا

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