How to Activate Windows 8 and 8.1 Online

information   Information
A product key is a 25-digit number that's used to activate Windows 8/8.1. Activation helps verify that Windows hasn't been used on more PCs than the Microsoft Software License Terms allow.

Your product key should be in the box that the Windows DVD came in, or in an email that shows that you bought Windows.


This tutorial will show you how to activate Windows 8 and 8.1 online with your purchased product key.

You must be signed in as an administrator to be able to activate Windows 8 or 8.1 online.

Note   Note
What this feature does

Activation reduces software counterfeiting, which helps ensure that Microsoft customers receive the software quality they expect. Once your software is activated, a specific product key becomes associated with the PC (or the hardware) on which your software is installed. This association prevents the product key from being used to activate the same copy of the software on multiple PCs. Some changes to your PC hardware or software might require you to reactivate Windows. Activation can detect and disable activation exploits (software that circumvents or bypasses Microsoft software activation). If an activation exploit is present, a software or hardware vendor might have tampered with genuine Microsoft software in order to create counterfeit copies of the software. Activation exploits may interfere with the normal operation of your system.

Information collected, processed, or transmitted

During activation, the following info is sent to Microsoft:

  • The Microsoft product code (a five-digit code that identifies the Windows product you're activating).
  • A channel ID or site code that identifies how the Windows product was originally obtained. For example, a channel ID or site code identifies whether the product was originally purchased from a retail store, obtained as an evaluation copy, obtained through a volume licensing program, or pre-installed by a PC manufacturer.
  • The date of installation, and whether the installation was successful.
  • Information that helps confirm that your Windows product key hasn't been altered.
  • PC make and model.
  • Version information for the operating system and software.
  • Region and language settings.
  • A unique number called a Globally Unique Identifier (GUID) assigned to your PC.
  • Product Key (hashed) and Product ID.
  • BIOS name, revision number, and revision date.
  • Hard drive volume serial number (hashed).
  • The result of the activation check. This includes error codes and information about any activation exploits and related malicious or unauthorized software found or disabled:
    • The activation exploit's identifier.
    • The activation exploit's current state, such as cleaned or quarantined.
    • PC manufacturer's identification.
    • The activation exploit's file name and hash, as well as a hash of related software components that may indicate the presence of an activation exploit.

  • The name and a hash of the contents of your PC's start-up instructions file. If your Windows license is on a subscription basis, information will also be sent about how your subscription works. Standard computer information is sent as well.
  • If you’re using a volume licensed copy of Windows that uses an activation server, the IP address of that server may be sent to Microsoft.

Use of information

Microsoft uses the information to confirm that you have a licensed copy of the software. Microsoft doesn't use the information to contact individual consumers. License server information is used to ensure that license servers comply with their license agreements.

Choice and control

Activation is required and occurs automatically while you set up Windows. If you don't have a valid license for the software, you won’t be able to activate Windows.

For more information, see also: Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 privacy statement - Microsoft Windows

Tip   Tip
If Windows fails to activate online, then you may need to activate by phone instead.

For more information about Windows 8/8.1 and Windows RT/RT 8.1 activation, please see:

EXAMPLE: Watermark that indicates Windows 8 is not activated
NOTE: This watermark will be at the bottom right corner of your desktop above the taskbar notification area.

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Activate Windows 8 and 8.1 Online During Installation

Note   Note
While performing a clean install or upgrade install of a retail copy of Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 8/8.1 Professional, Microsoft requires that you enter your product key for it during installation. Windows will automatically be activated with this key when connected online to the internet next.

All OEM PCs that come with Windows 8/8.1 or Windows RT/RT 8.1 preinstalled will automatically be activated when they are connected online to the internet next. The product key is embedded in the UEFI/BIOS firmware of OEM PCs with Windows 8/8.1 preinstalled, and is automatically detected and entered during installation.

When installing Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, it will not ask for a product key during installation. You would need to use OPTION TWO below to enter your product key and activate instead.

1. During a clean install or upgrade install of Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, enter your product key, and click/tap on Next to continue and finish installation. Windows 8/8.1 will be automatically activated when you are connected online. (see screenshot below)

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Activate Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise Online After Installation

Note   Note
When installing Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, it will not ask for a product key during installation since Microsoft allows you to use it without being activated for a free 90-day evaluation period. Instead, you will need to enter your volume product key and activate before the 90-day evaluation is up, or uninstall Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise.

If you like to give Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise a try, then you could download and install it from the links below.

Download Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation
  • Expires: 90 days after installation

1. Do step 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 below for how you would like to enter your product key and activate Windows.

2. Change the product key to enter your product key and activate Windows.

3. Press Windows +R keys to open the Run dialog, type slui.exe 3, click/tap OK, and go to step 8 below.

4. Open the Control Panel (icons view), click/tap on the System icon, click/tap on the Activate Windows link at the bottom right corner, and go to step 7 below. (see screenshot below)

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5. Open the Power Users Tasks menu, click/tap on System, click/tap on the Activate Windows link at the bottom right corner of System, and go to step 7 below. (see screenshot above)

6. Open PC settings, and click/tap on Activate Windows on the left side, and go to step 7 below. (see screenshot below)

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7. Click/tap on Enter key on the right side under Activate Windows. (see screenshot below)

Note   Note
If you see this instead, then it means that you need to set your UAC settings to the default (2nd from top) level instead of the "Always notify" (top level), then start over.

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8. Type in your 25-digit product key number. (see screenshots below)

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9. If you are online and it was successfully activated, then click/tap on Close. (see screenshot below)

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That's it,