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Windows 8 Product Activation

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This document pertains to HP and Compaq PCs with Windows 8.
To help prevent software piracy, Microsoft requires that Windows 8 is activated before it can be used. All HP and Compaq computers that come with Windows 8 installed will activate automatically once connected to the Internet, to make it easier for you to set up your computer. However, if you decide to install a different version of Windows 8 (such as an upgrade to the Enterprise version) or a store-bought copy of Windows 8, you will need to activate Windows as part of the installation process. There may also be situations when Windows prompts you to activate the product, even though the product has already been activated.
NOTE: If you are not using the latest version of Windows 8, some graphics and information in this document may vary. You can get the latest version from the Microsoft Store.

Types of Windows 8 activation

There are two methods for activating Windows 8: Windows Product Activation and OEM Activation 3.0 .
  • Windows Product Activation (WPA) sends an installation ID number to Microsoft before Windows is verified and then activated. WPA involves two numbers. One is an installation ID (generated by entering a Windows 8 product key) that the computer owner submits to Microsoft, either over the Internet or by phone. The second is a confirmation ID, assigned by Microsoft, which is used to activate the operating system’s software. This method is used when upgrading or installing Windows 8 from disc (not HP System Recovery).
  • OEM Activation 3.0 (OA3) takes place at the factory. A digital product key (DPK) is installed on the motherboard BIOS during the manufacturing process. Windows 8 will activate automatically the first time the computer is connected to the Internet. With OA3-activated systems, most of the computer's hardware can be replaced without needing to reactivate the software through Microsoft.

Reasons Windows 8 may need to be activated again

If your computer came with Windows 8 pre-installed, the following conditions may cause Windows to require activation through Microsoft:
  • Upgrading or updating Windows.
  • Completing an HP System Recovery after recovering from HP Recovery Discs.
  • Installing certain device drivers and software.
  • Uninstalling certain operating system software or files.
  • Updating the BIOS or installing a new BIOS flash from a company other than HP.
  • Replacing the motherboard with one that does not contain the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) version of the BIOS.

Windows Activation terms

The following list explains the terms that are used during the activation process:
  • Windows Product Activation (WPA): Requires a person to unlock the computer before Windows can be used.
  • OEM Activation 3.0 (OA3): No personal intervention is normally required to activate Windows, but the computer must be connected to the Internet for Windows to activate automatically.
  • End-User License Agreement (EULA): The agreement that the user of Windows must accept in order to use the Windows product.
  • Certificate of Authenticity (COA): A proof of ownership identification method to help prove that a Windows product is not counterfeit or copied. The COA could be in the form of a label that contains a bar code and product key.
  • Genuine Microsoft Label (GML): A label included on computers that came with Windows 8 pre-installed. The GML indicates which version of Windows 8 was originally installed on the computer.
  • Product Key: A 25-character alphanumeric code used to activate Windows.
  • Installation Identification Number: A number generated based on the product key entered during Windows setup.
  • Confirmation Identification Number: A number that allows you to complete the activation process.

Activate Windows 8 over the Internet

The quickest and easiest way to activate your copy of Windows 8 is to activate it over the Internet. If you do not have an Internet connection, or if it is inconvenient to make a network connection, see the Other ways to activate Windows 8 section of this document.
You must be signed in as an administrator to activate Windows 8. To activate Windows 8 over the Internet:
  1. Log on to the computer as an administrator, and connect to the Internet.
  2. Press the Windows + I keys to open the Settings charm.
  3. Select Change PC settings in the lower-right corner of the screen.
    Figure 1: Change PC settings
    The Change PC settings selection in the Settings charm
  4. In PC settings , select the Activate Windows tab.
    Figure 2: The Activate Windows tab
    The Activate Windows tab
    NOTE:Once Windows is activated, the Activate Windows tab will no longer appear in PC settings.
  5. Select the Enter key button.
    Figure 3: Enter key
    The Enter key selection on the Activate Windows screen, with Enter key encircled in red
    If you used discs to install Windows 8, you may find the product key on the disc packaging. If you bought Windows 8 over the Internet, the product number may have been included in an email you received after purchasing and downloading Windows 8.
    If you have the Windows 8 disc packaging, apply the Windows 8 Certificate of Authenticity label to your computer for easy reference in the future.
  6. Type the product key into the Product key field.
    Figure 4: Entering a product key
    The product field, encircled in red, in Activate Windows
    Windows automatically detects whether the product key is valid.
    Figure 5: Detecting the product key
    The Activate Windows screen as Windows detects whether the product key is valid
    If a User Account Control message appears, enter your password or provide confirmation.
  7. If product activation is successful and a Thanks, you're all done message appears, click Close .
    Figure 6: Windows is successfully activated
    The Activate Windows screen after a successful activation
    If activation was not successful, check the key and try entering it again, or continue to the Other ways to activate Windows 8 section of this document.
  • Confirming that Windows was activated:
    Follow the steps below if you want to verify that Windows activation was successful.
    1. Press the Windows + I keys to open the Settings charm.
    2. Select Change PC settings in the lower-right corner of the screen.
      Figure 7: Change PC settings
      The Change PC settings selection in the Settings charm
    3. In PC Settings, select the PC and devices tab.
      Figure 8: Selecting PC and devices
      The PC and devices tab in PC settings
    4. In PC and devices, select PC info .
    5. In PC info, look under Windows in the right pane to confirm that Windows is activated.
      Figure 9: Windows is activated
      The PC info tab in PC and devices, with the Windows is activated message highlighted
  • Adding features or getting a different edition of Windows 8:
    You can add features to Windows 8, or get a different edition of Windows 8. From the Start screen, type add features to open the Search charm, and then select Add features to Windows 8.1 from the search results. When the Add features to Windows 8.1 screen opens, follow the onscreen instructions.
    Figure 10: Adding features to Windows 8.1
    To search for Add features to Windows 8

Other ways to activate Windows 8

For alternate methods to activate Windows 8, choose one of the sections below.
If Windows 8 activation over the Internet is not possible, activate the product by contacting Microsoft over the phone.
NOTE:When you contact Microsoft, do not request a “new” activation code. If you do, Microsoft may direct you to purchase a new operating system. If the operating system does not need to be replaced, simply activate or reactivate your existing installation.
To activate Windows 8 over the phone:
  1. From the Start screen, type slui 4 to open the Search charm, and then select slui 4 from the search results.
    Figure 11: Searching for slui 4
    The search for slui 4
  2. Click the down arrow under Select your country or region , select the name of your country or region, and then click Next .
    Figure 12: Selecting the country from the list
    The Select your country or region drop-down list, with the United States selected and Next encircled in red
  3. Call the telephone number provided on the Call and provide your installation ID screen. Be prepared to enter the series of numbers listed under Installation ID .
  4. Follow the instructions from the telephone system. When provided with the confirmation ID, write the numbers down.
  5. On the Call and provide your installation ID screen, click the Enter confirmation ID button.
    Figure 13: Providing the installation ID
    The Call and provide your installation ID screen,  with the Enter confirmation ID button encircled in red
  6. On the Enter your confirmation ID screen, enter the numbers into fields A through H, in the same sequence as provided by the telephone system, and then click Activate Windows .
    Figure 14: Enter confirmation ID
    Enter confirmation ID
  7. If product activation was successful, a success screen is shown and you are done. If product activation is not successful, follow the steps in the Activate Windows 8 over the Internet section of this document; or, if Windows 8 came pre-installed on your computer, you can perform an HP System Recovery .
If your computer came with Windows 8 pre-installed and you have not replaced the motherboard, HP System Recovery can be used as an alternative to performing either an online or telephone activation. HP System Recovery restores Windows 8 to its original factory condition and reinstalls the original operating system. After an HP System Recovery, Windows 8 will activate automatically when the computer is connected to the Internet.
For more information about System Recovery, refer to the HP support document Performing an HP System Recovery (Windows 8) .
After performing an HP System Recovery, or re-installing Windows 8, it should not be necessary to repeat the activation process. There are several different recovery situations to consider:
  • If the computer shipped with Windows 8 and the Recovery Manager is functional, use the Recovery Manager to restore the computer to its default factory conditions. Windows 8 activates automatically when connected to the Internet.
  • If the computer shipped with Windows 8 but the Recovery Manager is not functional, use the recovery discs to restore the computer to its default factory conditions. Windows 8 activates automatically when connected to the Internet.
  • If the computer shipped with an earlier version of Windows but included an upgrade disc for Windows 8 provided by HP, restore the computer to its default factory conditions and then upgrade again to Windows 8. Windows 8 activates automatically when connected to the Internet.
  • If the computer shipped with an earlier version of Windows and you upgraded or custom-installed a full retail version of Windows 8, use the Microsoft DVD to re-install Windows 8. Windows 8 activates automatically when connected to the Internet.
  • If the computer shipped with Windows 8 and the Recovery Manager is not functional, but you have not created the recovery discs, you can order a Windows 8 Recovery DVD. You may need to contact Microsoft to activate Windows 8.

Troubleshooting Windows 8 activation errors

If an error code appears while attempting to activate Windows, try the solutions below to solve the problem. If you continue to get an error message, contact HP (in English) to get support. When contacting HP, please have your model number, product number, and serial number ready.
Error messageWhat the error message meansPossible solutions
Windows isn't activated. This PC isn't activated anymore. If you reinstalled Windows or made changes to your hardware recently, you can contact support for help.Windows 8 is not activated on the computer for reasons such as changes in the hardware configuration or because Windows 8 was activated multiple times on the computer. Contact HP support for assistance.
Activate Windows. You’re running Windows in safe mode. Restart Windows normally to get everything you need to activate.Windows 8 activation is not possible in safe mode.Restart in normal mode from Windows : Press the Windows + R key, type msconfig into the Open field, and click OK . On the General tab of the System Configuration tool, select the Normal startup radio button, and click OK . On the System Configuration pop-up window, click Restart

Contact HP support if you need further assistance.
Activate Windows. There's a problem with activation. Please contact the manufacturer of your PC, or buy a new key.There is a problem with the product key. Contact HP support for assistance.
Activate Windows. The product key on this PC didn't work. You might need to contact the company that built this computer, or buy a new key.There is a problem with the product key. Contact HP support for assistance.
Windows isn't activated. The product key didn't work. Try a different key, or buy a new one.Windows is unable to process the product key due to a problem in manufacturing, a problem with the computer, an incomplete reinstallation of Windows 8, an invalid product key, or because the key was not entered correctly.
  • Carefully check the product key entry to make certain that all numbers and letters are entered correctly. To try to enter the key again, click the Activate with a new key button on the Windows Activation window, and follow the onscreen instructions.
  • Contact HP support if you need further assistance.
  • To buy a new key, click the Buy a new key button on the Windows Activation window, and follow the onscreen instructions.
Windows isn't activated. Your license to use this evaluation version of Windows has expired.The free trial for Windows 8 Consumer Preview or Windows 8.1 Preview has ended, and the license is no longer valid.Purchase the latest version of Windows 8, or restore the computer to a previous operating system using recovery or installation media. For more information, see:

Windows isn't activated. This product key is already being used on another PC. Try a different key, or buy a new one.In most cases, Microsoft allows a product key to be installed on only one computer at a time.
  • Carefully check the product key entry to make certain that all numbers and letters are entered correctly. To try to enter the key again, click the Activate with a new key button on the Windows Activation window, and follow the onscreen instructions.
  • To buy a new key, click the Buy a new key button on the Windows Activation window, and follow the onscreen instructions.
  • Contact HP support if you need further assistance.
Windows isn't activated. This preinstalled version of Windows can't be activated. Contact your PC manufacturer for assistance, or buy a new key.Windows 8 is not activated on the computer for reasons such as changes in the hardware configuration or a problem in manufacturing. Contact HP support for assistance.
Windows isn't activated. Enter a new product key to activate Windows.Windows 8 is not preinstalled on the computer, and no product key is configured. Contact HP support for assistance.
Windows isn't activated. The product key doesn't match the region you're in, so try a different key.The product key is not for the region specified in your location settings.
  • Check your location settings: Press the Windows + W keys, and enter region into the search field. Click Region from the list of results. On the Location tab of the Region window, verify that the correct selection was made from the Home location drop-down.
  • Contact HP support if you need further assistance.
Windows isn't activated. The product key can only be used to restore Windows on PCs that have Windows pre-installed. You can activate Windows on the phone.The Windows 8 license installed on the computer does not match the type of key entered.
Windows isn't activated. There are files on your PC that are preventing activation. You need to buy and reinstall a new version of Windows.There are files on the computer that are blocking Windows 8 from being activated.
  • To buy a new product key, click the Buy a new key button on the Windows Activation window, and follow the onscreen instructions.
  • Contact HP support if you need further assistance.
Windows isn't activated. Windows couldn't be activated right now. We'll keep trying to activate it for you.Windows is not able to connect with the online activation service.
Windows isn't activated. If you want to activate online, you need to connect to the Internet—or you can call us.Your computer is not connected to the Internet.Connect to the Internet, or follow the directions in Activate Windows 8 over the phone .
Windows isn't activated. The version of Windows is expired. Install the latest version to activate.A trial or evaluation version of Windows 8 is installed, and the license is no longer valid.
  • Install a non-evaluation version of Windows 8.
  • Contact HP support if you need further assistance.

See also

For more information on Windows activation, refer to the following Web sites:
Microsoft Product Activation Web page (in English)
Microsoft's Get help with activation errors Web page (in English)