When you buy a copy of Windows 10, you get a product key. This key is used to activate Windows on your computer. It’s a 25-character product key, and it’s important that you keep it noted somewhere. When you switch your computer or reinstall. you will need to find product key again.
The 25 character Windows 10 Key looks like – AAAAA-AAAAA-AAAAA-AAAAA-AAAAA
Starting with Windows 10 v1511, Microsoft introduced the Digital Entitlement or license. A lot of consumers upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, and. this is where the digital license was used. The advantage of a digital license is that you do not need any product key. It is linked to your Microsoft Account and the PC.
How to find product key in Windows 10
It is possible that you may have forgotten where you made a note of it or have lost the email or the printed copy. Since Microsoft doesn’t keep a record of purchased product software keys, the onus is on you to figure it out. The good news is that the key can be retrieved from Windows 10 installation if nothing else works.
Lets first take a look at better ways to find the key.
1] From an authorized retailer
If you bought the Windows 10 PC from an authorized manufacturer, the key must be on a label or card inside the box. Find that box, and you should be able to find the key. In case you cannot, you may want to connect with the manufacturer again and try.
2]A new PC running Windows
If your PC came with a pre-installed copy of Windows 10, then the key must be included with the packaging or on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached to the PC. Sometimes OEMs offer a pre-activated copy of Windows 10, and in that case, sign in with your Microsoft Account, and it will be tied with your account.
If you do find the key, create an installation media with key and use that to install Windows 10.
3] A digital copy from a Microsoft website
If you bought the key from Microsoft Website, the product key is in the confirmation email sent to your account. When you buy from the Windows Store, you’ll receive a digital license instead of a product key. You could also log into the Microsoft Store > Downloads > Product Keys > Subscription page > Digital Content tab. Here you may be able to see the Windows product key. You can use that digital license to activate your Windows 10 PC.
You may also visit your Microsoft Account dashboard here to see the details of the oders placed by you.
4] Free upgrade to Windows 10.
When you upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, a digital license activates the copy of Windows instead of a product key. These digital keys are linked to your Microsoft Account. So after re-installing Windows 10, sign-in with the same account. Windows will get activated automatically.
In case it doesn’t work, you can use the Activation Troubleshooter in Windows 10 Update & Security section, and it will fix the problem for you.
Lastly, if nothing works out, it is best that you get a new key and change your existing Windows Key with a new one. If you are buying a new computer, and have crossed the limit of the activation of the digital license, this is the only way out.
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP since then. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.