Windows XP, 7, and 8 were easy targets for pirates and merchants of cracked versions. Microsoft elected to flip the script when launching Windows 10 to curb the rampant piracy of Windows operating systems. While users can easily install it without needing to activate it immediately, using an unactivated copy is limited.
1. Unactivated Windows has limited features
Perhaps the most important reason to activate Windows 10 is to gain access to its premium features. While you can still perform basic functions with a ‘freemium’ Windows 10, you’ll need to contend without several useful features like those listed below.
You can’t use Dark Mode
Windows 10 has many new features, including the popular ‘Dark mode‘. Although Dark mode isn’t a mandatory setting, it can help improve your browsing experience, especially if you’re the type that spends hours on end behind a PC either for work or entertainment.
However, this useful setting isn’t available if you don’t activate Windows 10. Windows will only allow you to modify your screen’s brightness but won’t allow you to make system-wide changes using the Dark mode.
2. You won’t get crucial security updates
Windows 10 differs from its predecessors in requiring regular mandatory updates. Although these updates can prove annoying for most users, they are pivotal in keeping hackers and malicious users at bay.
Users with a licensed copy of Windows 10 are usually eligible for security updates that help prevent malware, viruses, and other cyber threats from attacking their respective systems.
However, you won’t receive all these critical updates when using an unactivated copy, meaning you might miss out on the latest security updates.
While you can still run third-party antiviruses to supplement your semi-protected OS, activating Windows 10 is the surest way to keep your PC safe and fully protected.
3. Bug fixes and patches
Windows 10 is undoubtedly Microsoft’s best OS yet. Microsoft tends to release automatic updates to improve the OS to keep the powerhouse OS running as expected.
Unfortunately, only users with activated copies can benefit from the frequent bug fixes and patches.
If you’re using an unactivated OS, chances are you won’t receive bug fixes and patches as frequently as users running activated versions of Windows 10 do.
This can affect your user experience, especially if you encounter problems with Microsoft apps or the entire operating system.
4. Limited personalization settings
While Windows 10 allows clients to customize and configure a host of settings, you won’t be able to do much in personalization when using an unactivated OS.
Windows 10 is a bit strict on its personalization settings as it only allows users with activated copies to tweak and modify the display settings.
Below are some personalization settings you won’t be able to access when using an unactivated version.
Background and wallpaper settings
When operating an unactivated Windows 10, you’ll be limited to the default wallpapers that come with Windows.
However, you can easily navigate past this hurdle by selecting your preferred image file and right-clicking on it.
After right-clicking, a drop-down menu with several options will appear. Choose the ‘Set as desktop background’ option to have the image as your background.
You can’t modify the colors of your applications
When using an unactivated version, Windows 10 won’t allow you to modify the colors of your taskbar, Windows, and several other applications. Instead, it will automatically pick a default color (blue).
While most users don’t mind the default color, you must activate your Windows to switch to a different color.
You’ll have an impersonal Lock Screen
Similar to the limitation in setting background photos, an unactivated copy won’t allow you to modify the lock screen to suit your preferences, meaning you’ll have to settle for Windows’ automatic lock screen changes.
However, the good thing is that you can set your preferred lock screen by right-clicking an image and selecting the ‘Set as lock screen’ button.
You can’t remove the default theme
Windows Themes allow users to modify the interface and alter the general appearance and overall feel. Windows Themes lets you change your OS’s color, background, cursor, sound, and several features.
However, with an unactivated copy, you won’t have the capacity to remove the custom theme. Only users with activated versions can choose their preferred themes.
You’ll have default fonts only
Fonts can be described as the appearance of text, numbers, and characters on your PC. Changing from the default font will change how the numbers, text, and characters appear on your Microsoft 10-powered device.
Although not a commonly used feature, you still won’t get to try out different fonts when using an unactivated Windows 10.
Your Start Menu settings can’t be configured
The start menu is an important feature in Windows 10 that grants you easy access to several applications and features.
It also allows you to perform several functions, from turning off your PC to accessing frequently used applications.
However, when Windows 10 isn’t activated, you won’t be able to configure the minor settings in the start menu, which means you’ll be unable to view suggestions or the most used apps for easy access.
To properly use the start menu, you must activate it.
You can’t customize your taskbar
The taskbar is a vital part of Windows 10 and is the most versatile since Microsoft’s release of the first OS.
On the taskbar (located at the bottom), you can open the start menu, pin applications, search your PC, and open applications.
Suppose you’re using an unactivated copy. In that case, chances are you won’t be able to customize your taskbar, which means you’ll have to forgo taskbar modification features like hiding the taskbar or minimizing icon sizes.
5. Activate Windows watermark
If you fail to activate your Windows 10 after the trial period expires, it will automatically place a semi-transparent watermark on the screen’s bottom part.
The purpose of the watermark is to remind you to activate your Windows to get full access to all of Microsoft’s features.
For most people, the watermark can be annoying as it takes away from the experience of using your laptop or PC.
The Activate Windows watermark is perhaps Microsoft’s way to coerce clients into activating their copy.
Not only does the watermark take up a relatively good amount of space towards the bottom-right side, but it’s also impossible to remove regardless of the running applications.
6. You’ll get persistent notifications to activate Windows 10
Microsoft won’t force you to activate Windows 10. However, you’ll receive several potentially annoying notifications reminding you to activate the OS.
While most people can get used to this hurdle, it can interfere with your work or concentration, especially since you won’t have access to Focus assist when running an unactivated Windows 10.
How to activate Windows 10 using a product key
If your free trial has expired and you’re prompted to activate it, you can easily do so by completing the following steps.
1. Go to Settings Page
The first step to activating your Windows 10 is to access the settings page. To get to this page, you can either type settings on the search button towards the left side of the taskbar or press the start menu and click on the Settings button.
2. Click on the Update and Security Option
On the settings page, you’ll spot several options, including:
- Ease of access and update.
- Security, and more.
Clicking on the Update and Security button will allow Windows to redirect you to the update page.
On the page, click on activation. Head over to the right side of the page and click on the Change product key. You’ll then need to key in the licensed product key before pressing next. Once done, click on activate to complete the process.
What are the consequences of not activating Windows 10?
Windows 10 is Microsoft’s safest and most user-friendly OS release yet. Unlike previous versions that were updated occasionally, it is constantly updated, which helps enhance overall security and user experience.
While it’s true that an unactivated copy will work just fine, activating the OS will allow you to capitalize on a host of features.
You’ll get frequent security updates, which can go a long way in improving your security, especially if you’re an avid streamer, downloader, or user of internet services.
Although an unactivated Windows 10 will benefit from basic security updates, the unlicensed systems don’t get updated nearly as much as their activated counterparts.
Activating Windows 10 allows you to access customization settings and other features like Windows Hello and Focus assist that help to improve your overall experience when browsing or working.
This means you can access your device faster (Windows Hello) and customize it to suit your personal preferences.
Another benefit of activating Windows 10 is that no new updates hinder or interfere with your system’s operation.
Microsoft has made no secret of its intentions to continuously update and review the OS, meaning they can initiate further limitations if they want free users to switch to the premium versions.
Activating it on your PC or laptop gives you the peace of mind that you’re safe, regardless of whatever updates Microsoft comes up with.