Issue: How to fix "We weren't able to activate Windows on this device" error?
I attempted to install Windows on a different SSD because the old one broke, and I was not able to due to the “We weren't able to activate Windows on this device” error. Could you provide any tips on how to fix this error?
Windows activation is an essential process that ensures the legitimacy and secure functioning of the Windows operating system on a device. When you first install Windows, or in cases where you reinstall the operating system or make significant hardware changes to your device, activation becomes necessary.
This process involves verifying that your copy of Windows is genuine and hasn’t been used on more devices than the Microsoft Software License Terms allow. Activation helps protect your device from counterfeit software, which can expose users to security risks and poor performance.
However, during the activation process, some users encountered an error message stating, “We weren't able to activate Windows on this device.” This error can arise due to various reasons, affecting your ability to fully utilize the Windows operating system. One common cause is connectivity issues, where your device may be unable to reach Microsoft's activation servers. This can happen if your internet connection is unstable or if firewall and security software settings are blocking the connection.
Another reason for the “We weren't able to activate Windows on this device” error could be the invalidation of the Windows license key. This can occur if the key you are using has already been used on another device or is no longer valid due to licensing terms. Additionally, hardware changes like replacing the motherboard can lead the Windows activation technology to no longer recognize your device as the original system on which the operating system was installed.
In some cases, the error might hint at deeper issues within the Windows operating system itself. There could be system files that are corrupted or essential components that are not functioning correctly, preventing the activation process from completing successfully.
If you're facing the “We weren't able to activate Windows on this device” error, it's important to assess your network connectivity, verify the validity of your Windows license key, and consider any recent hardware changes you've made.
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Fix 1. Run the troubleshooter
Windows includes a built-in troubleshooter that automatically detects and resolves issues related to Windows activation. This tool scans your system for common problems and attempts to fix them, making it a straightforward solution for activation issues.
- Right-click on Start and select Settings.
- Go to Update & Security section.
- On the left side of the window, pick Activation.
- On the right side, you should see the error message, and below it – Troubleshoot.
- Select Troubleshoot, then select I changed hardware on this device recently, and click Next (if you haven't, do not pick this option).
- Enter your Microsoft Account details.
- From all the devices your account is linked to, select the computer you are using, mark the This is the device I’m using right now option, and click Activate.
Fix 2. Install all Windows updates
Pending updates can sometimes interfere with the activation process. Installing all available updates ensures that any known bugs or issues affecting activation are resolved.
- Press Win + I on your keyboard to open Settings.
- Go to Update & Security.
- Click on Windows Update.
- Click Check for updates and install any available updates, including optional ones.
- Restart your computer after the updates are installed.
Fix 3. Use network troubleshooter
Network connectivity issues can prevent your system from contacting Microsoft's activation servers. Using the network troubleshooter can help identify and resolve these issues.
- Right-click on the Start button and select Settings.
- Go to Network & Internet section.
- Here, locate the Advanced network settings section.
- Click the Network troubleshooter to run it.
- Wait for the results to show up and apply the suggested fixes.
Fix 4. Activate via Command Prompt
Using specific commands in Command Prompt can be an alternative method for activating Windows.
- Type in cmd in Windows search.
- Right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.
- When User Account Control shows up, click Yes.
- Once Command Prompt opens, copy and paste the following command:
- Press Enter and click OK.
- Open Command Prompt as administrator and use the following command:
wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey
- Paste the slmgr.vbs.ipk <product key> into the window, and press Enter
- Finally, use slmgr.vbs/ato command and hit Enter
- Restart your PC and see if the problem persists.
Fix 5. Check for corrupted system files
System File Checker (SFC) and Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) can repair corrupted system files that might be causing activation issues.
- Open Command Prompt administrator.
- In the Command Prompt window, paste the following command and hit Enter:
- Next, use the following commands, pressing Enter each time:
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
(Note: if you get an error executing this last command, add /Source:C:\RepairSource\Windows /LimitAccess to it and try again).
- Reboot your computer.
Fix 6. Activate by phone
Activating Windows by phone is a useful alternative if online activation fails.
- Press Win + R on your keyboard and type slui 4, then press Enter.
- Select your country and click Next.
- Call the toll-free number provided.
- Follow the automated instructions or speak to a representative. Make sure you have your Windows product key/digital license number ready.
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