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I recently installed Windows 10 with a legal download of the Iso file. When I open settings, there is a link to a setting labeled, "Windows isn't activated. Activate windows now." But if I try to enter my product key there, it says some of these characters can't appear in the product key. I have found out that the 015 AEIOU LNSZ characters can't be used, but on my other working computer, that is the listed product key. How can I fix this?

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    Are you sure that's the product key and not the product ID? Normally Windows won't show the product key anywhere after it's entered. The ID is something else entirely and can't be used for installation/activation.
    – Karu
    Feb 16, 2016 at 4:34
  • Oh. It turns out it is the product ID. Never mind.
    – Ranger
    Feb 16, 2016 at 4:58
  • But what would happen if I didn't activate it?
    – Ranger
    Feb 16, 2016 at 4:58
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    Windows got a lot more lenient about their activation stuff. AFAIK, you can still use the OS, but you'll be interrupted by a dialog box every few minutes, and are stuck with black wallpaper and a "this version of windows is not genuine" text on the desktop.
    – Karu
    Feb 16, 2016 at 5:01
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    Using W10 unactivated: superuser.com/questions/1024274/…
    – Moab
    Feb 16, 2016 at 5:33

1 Answer 1

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What Windows shows you in the control panel is the product ID, which is a hashed value generated from, among other things, your hardware configuration.

The product KEY is what you want, and that's hidden in the registry.

A free tool that can accomplish this is ProduKey

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    I saw your comment and was going to do this, but I kept looking around - AND I FOUND IT UNDER THE BATTERY! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR TIME! BTW, I am going to mark this as accepted.
    – Ranger
    Feb 16, 2016 at 17:03
  • Hah! Hadn't even thought to check that. Glad you found it anyways :)
    – Karu
    Feb 16, 2016 at 18:12

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