The Windows 10 activation process has changed for the better. Now if you upgrade your system, get a new product key from the Windows Store, or you purchase a new device, you’ll get something called “digital license”, which you can link to your Microsoft account for easier reactivation.
However, it appears that there is a bit of confusion, as some users thinks that linking the digital licence with a Microsoft account is required to reactivate Windows 10.
And it’s not a requirement.
Digital licence and Microsoft account
A digital licence and linking the activation information to a Microsoft account are two different things.
Using a digital licence simply means that after Windows 10 looks into your computer and generates a unique identifier based on your hardware, your system will successfully activate. Then you will no longer need to provide a product key after reinstalling the operating system to activate.
Starting with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft introduced the ability to link your activation information with your Microsoft account.
If you already use a Microsoft account to sign in to Windows 10, this process happens automatically. You can see this in Settings > Update & security > Activation, where your activation should read: “Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account.”
However, the ability to associate your activation information with a Microsoft account is optional, but it makes reactivation easier in those rare cases when Windows 10 won’t activate.
For example, if you can’t activate after reinstalling Windows 10, the operating system deactivates for no apparent reason, or you recently made significant hardware changes to your device and if your digital license is associated with your Microsoft account, you can use the Activation Troubleshooter in the Settings app to quickly fix the problem.
On the other hand, if you’re not using a Microsoft account and Windows 10 won’t activate, then you’ll need to re-enter the original product key or call Microsoft support and explain the situation to reactivate, which make things a little more complicated.
Here are two questions, which answers summarize what you need to know:
Do you need to activate a Microsoft account to reactivate Windows 10? No, the activation process runs totally independently from a Microsoft account.
Should you link your Windows 10 digital license to a Microsoft account? It’s not a requirement, but it makes easier to reactivate in certain scenarios.