Microsoft product key not working? 9 ways to fix it

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Microsoft product keys are license keys that you can use to activate Windows. Activating your system verifies that you are using genuine Windows and gives you certain benefits.

If your computer is not activated, after the trial period ends, you cannot change particular settings such as personalization, account, etc. The Activate Windows message will always appear in the lower right part of your screen which remains even in screenshots.

If your product key is not working, you will soon encounter such problems if you are not already suffering from them. So we created this article to help you solve this problem.

Why is the Microsoft product key not working?

Here are the probable reasons why Microsoft product key not working on Windows:

  • Use of incorrect or invalid product keys.
  • Code already used on the maximum number of devices.
  • Windows activation servers are busy.
  • Internet connection problems.
  • Firewall blocking the ports used by the activation process.
  • Incorrect date and time settings.
  • Make changes to hardware components.
  • Improper modification of necessary system files.

How to Fix Microsoft Product Key Not Working

First of all, if you entered the product key after Windows upgrade or if you received the error message in the activation settings after upgrading from a pre Windows operating system -dismissed, try to wait a while. It is possible that the activation servers are busy, so after a while your system should activate automatically. Sometimes you may also need to press the Activate key.

If this is not the case for your problem or if waiting does not solve it, try the possible solutions listed below.

Check internet connection

The first thing to do is to check your internet connection. Windows must connect to the online activation service to activate and verify the product key.

First, check if you can use the internet from your browsers. If not, run the network troubleshooter by doing the following:

  1. Press Win + R to open Run.
  2. Type ms-settings:troubleshoot and press Enter.
  3. Select Additional convenience stores Where Other convenience stores.
  4. Select Internet connections and click Run this troubleshooter Where To run.
  5. Run it Network adapter troubleshooter as well.

You may also need to restart your router or modem.

Check time and date

Your system cannot connect to the Internet if your date and time settings are incorrect. Thus, their wrong settings also prevent the online activation service from verifying your product key. This issue will also display error code 0x80072F8F on your activation page.

Follow the instructions below to check your date and time:

  1. Open Run and enter ms-settings:dateandtime
  2. Activate the switches for Set time zone automatically and Set time automatically.
    set-time-and-time-zone-automatically
  3. If it shows the wrong region for your time zone, disable the auto time zone option and manually change your time zone.
  4. Click on Sync Now to synchronize with the time server.

Check activation status and product key

If your system is already activating, entering the product key again will also display an error code, usually 0xC004E028. In such cases, you need to wait for some time and check if your system activates.

To check the activation status,

  1. Open Run and enter ms-settings:activation.
  2. If your Activation state says Active, you don’t have to do anything else.

It is also possible that the product key you entered is incorrect or invalid. You cannot enter the product key for another version of Windows. You also cannot use one that has already been used on another device.

Also, while you can use some product keys on multiple devices, they only support a limited number of devices. You can no longer use the key on Windows systems.

In such cases,

  1. Go to the Activation settings.
  2. Click on To change next to Change Product Key and enter the appropriate key.
    Change product key

If the seller gave you an invalid key, contact them for a refund and purchase a new valid product key for your version of Windows from the Microsoft Store.

Moreover, you can also change your product key to MAK if the KMS key is not working.

Run Troubleshooters

If you reinstalled Windows or made changes to your hardware, the product key may not work. However, this is a very minor issue that you can fix easily by running the Windows Activation Troubleshooter. Here is how you can run this program,

  1. Open Run and enter ms-settings:activation
  2. Click on Troubleshoot next to the error message.
    troubleshooting-activation

In some scenarios, the troubleshooter will also ask you to reactivate Windows.

You can also use Microsoft’s diagnostic tool for activation errors if the built-in troubleshooter doesn’t fix the problem.

Also, you should run Windows update troubleshooter if you get error 0x80070652. This error occurs if the update components are missing from your system and the troubleshooter will fix this issue. To run the troubleshooter,

  1. Open Run and enter ms-settings:troubleshoot
  2. Go to Other convenience stores Where Additional convenience stores.
  3. Select Windows Update and click To run or Run this troubleshooter under it.

If the update troubleshooter does not work, you need to reset Windows Update components.

Activate Windows using the command line (CLI)

If you were unable to activate Windows using the Activation GUI (GUI) due to minor issues instead of an invalid key, you can try using the CLI for the process. Do this,

  1. Open Run.
  2. Type cmd and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open the elevated command prompt.
  3. Enter the command slmgr.vbs -ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx while replacing the x’s with the product key.
    slmgr-activation

Contact the system administrator

If your computer is part of the domain and uses the KMS volume license key for activation, you may experience problems due to incorrect DNS configuration. You cannot activate the guest operating system if the DNS does not have the entry for the host system. There may also be other routing or network issues responsible for the product key not working.

In such cases, you should contact the system administrator and ask him to check all these configurations. If you have access to the server, we recommend that you consult the Microsoft documentation on DNS KMS troubleshooting to learn how to resolve the problem.

Run System Restore

Your computer needs particular system files to complete the activation process. If the installation of third-party applications or malware has modified these files, you cannot activate Windows. You will also see error code 0xC004E003 on the activation page.

In such cases, the best solution is to perform a system restore to get your system back to a proper working state. Do this,

  1. Press Win + R to open Run.
  2. Type rstrui and press Enter to run the System Restore application.
  3. Select an appropriate restore point and click Next.
    system restore choose restore point
  4. Follow the instructions on the screen.

Downgrade Windows version

We mentioned earlier that each key only works for its target version of Windows. However, there are ways to make it work without having to clean install Windows or buy a new product key.

First,

  • Open Command Prompt and enter dism /online /get-targeteditions for a list of systems your system can be upgraded to.
  • If you have a product key for these versions, you can directly use the key. For example, you can directly upgrade from Home to Professional using the Pro upgrade key.
  • If you are unable to do so, enter the generic Pro key: VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66Tthen replace the activation key with the one you have.

However, you cannot use Home or Pro edition keys on a Windows Enterprise version. In such cases, you can follow the steps below to downgrade Windows to bypass the clean install of Home/Pro version:

  1. First, open Registry Editor (regedit click Run) on your PC.
  2. Move towards ComputerHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersion
  3. Double-click the following entries and change the value data as we specified depending on whether you want to downgrade to Pro or Home:
    • Professional
      Edition ID – Professional
      Product Name – Windows 10 Pro
      CompositionEditionID – Enterprise
      Editor-of-the-professional-registry
    • House
      Edition ID – Core
      Product Name – Windows 10 Home
      CompositionEditionID – Core
  4. Then download the Windows Home or Pro ISO file from Media Creation Tool.
  5. Mount the ISO file, navigate to its virtual drive and run setup.exe.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to upgrade the PC.

If the last page of the installation says it will install Windows Enterprise, the process has failed and you need to perform a fresh installation using the installation media.

Reset activation timer

The Windows operating system comes with a 30-day trial period that allows you to use the benefits of the activated system. However, it is possible to extend this period by resetting or rearming the activation timer at the start of the 30 day period. But keep in mind that there is a limit to how much you can extend this period.

Here’s how to check and reset the activation timer:

  1. Open the elevated command prompt.
  2. Enter the command slmgr /dlv
  3. Check the value of the Number of remaining Windows rearms.number of rearms remaining
  4. If it is greater than zero, enter slmgr /rearm on Run.
  5. Restart your PC.
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