DetailPage-MSS-KB

Microsoft small business knowledge base

Article ID: 940315 - Last Review: November 15, 2012 - Revision: 6.0

On This Page

INTRODUCTION

This article describes how to activate your copy of Windows Vista. Activation helps verify that your copy of Windows is genuine and that it has not been used on more computers than the Microsoft Software License Terms allow. Activation also helps prevent software counterfeiting.

In order to continue using all the features in Windows Vista, activation is required. When you start Windows Vista the first time, you have 30 days to activate it online or by telephone. If the activation period expires before you complete the activation, many features of Windows Vista will be disabled. To regain full use of Windows Vista, you must activate it.

More information

What you will need

You must be logged on to Windows as an administrator in order to activate Windows Vista. To verify that you are logged on to Windows with a user account that is a computer administrator, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://support.microsoft.com/gp/admin (http://support.microsoft.com/gp/admin)
In order to activate your copy of Windows Vista, you may need your valid product key. You can locate the product key on the Windows Vista CD sleeve or on the Windows Vista CD case.

Note If Windows Vista was preinstalled by an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), the product key appears on a sticker on the case of the computer.

Activating Windows Vista

To activate Windows Vista online, you must have an Internet connection. To activate Windows Vista by telephone, you must use the automated telephone system.

Video: How to activate Windows on your computer

Collapse this imageExpand this image
uuid=e42db73d-f794-4d5c-a626-0dd7da610ea1 VideoUrl=http://aka.ms/nlmzbv (http://aka.ms/nlmzbv)
Collapse this imageExpand this image


To activate Windows Vista, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start
    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    the Start button
    , and then click Computer.
  2. Click System properties on the toolbar, and then click Click here to activate Windows now in the Windows activation area.

    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    User Access Control permission
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Continue.
  3. Select the Windows Vista activation method that you want, and then follow the instructions.
Note If you select the automatic activation method when you first set up your computer, the automatic activation process tries to activate your copy of Windows Vista three days after you first log on.

Verifying that Windows Vista is activated

To verify that your copy of Windows Vista is activated, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start
    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    the Start button
    , and then click Computer.
  2. Click System properties on the toolbar, and view the Windows Vista activation status in the Windows activation area at the bottom of the System properties box.
Note It may take several seconds for Windows Vista to retrieve your computer activation status.

To view frequently asked questions about Windows Vista activation, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-us/Help/62088be6-3538-46a6-99fb-05e74aeb48b51033.mspx#EXB (http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-us/Help/62088be6-3538-46a6-99fb-05e74aeb48b51033.mspx#EXB)

If you cannot activate Windows Vista over the Internet

If you are re-installing Windows or reactivating Windows, the activation process may not be completed successfully when you try to activate Windows Vista over the Internet by using the Windows Activation Wizard. If this occurs, you should activate Windows over the telephone.

To activate Windows Vista over the telephone, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start
    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    the Start button
    , and then click Computer.
  2. Click System properties on the toolbar, and then click Click here to activate Windows now in the Windows activation area.

    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    User Access Control permission
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Continue.
  3. The Windows Activation Wizard starts.
  4. Click Use the automated telephone system in the Windows Activation Wizard.

If Windows Vista requests activation unexpectedly

On rare occasions, you may be prompted to activate Windows Vista on a computer that did not previously require Windows Vista activation or was already activated successfully. For example, this may occur on a computer where Windows Vista was preinstalled by an OEM or Volume Licensing installation and major hardware changes have occurred, such as upgrading the hard disk and memory at the same time.

If you are prompted to reactivate Windows Vista, you can do so by using the Windows Activation Wizard:
  1. Click Start
    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    the Start button
    , and then click Computer.
  2. Click System properties on the toolbar, and then click Click here to activate Windows now in the Windows activation area.

    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    User Access Control permission
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Continue.
  3. Select the Windows Vista activation method that you want, and then follow the instructions.
To prevent this problem in the future, you should obtain the latest service pack for your installed version of Windows Vista, either through automatic updates or direct download.

To update Windows Vista and prevent this Activation problem from reoccurring:
  1. Click Start
    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    the Start button
    , click All Programs, and then click Windows Update.
  2. Click Check for updates.
  3. As soon as Windows Vista has found the updates, click the Install updates button.

NEXT STEPS

If these methods did not work for you, you can use the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web site to find other solutions to your problem. Some services that the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web sites provide include the following:
  • Searchable Knowledge Base (http://support.microsoft.com/search/?adv=1) : Search technical support information and self-help tools for Microsoft products.
  • Solution Centers (http://support.microsoft.com/select/?target=hub) : View product-specific frequently asked questions and support highlights.
  • Other Support Options (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?pr=csshome) : Use the Web to ask a question, contact Microsoft Customer Support Services, or provide feedback.
If you continue to have problems, you might want to contact Support:
http://support.microsoft.com/contactus (http://support.microsoft.com/contactus)

Applies to
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Vista Starter
  • Windows Vista Home Basic 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Business 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Enterprise 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Home Basic N
  • Windows Vista Business N
  • Windows Vista Home Basic N 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Business N 64-bit Edition
Keywords: 
kbexpertisebeginner kbhowto kb16bitonly kbvideocontent KB940315
Share
Additional support options
Ask The Microsoft Small Business Support Community
Contact Microsoft Small Business Support
Find Microsoft Small Business Support Certified Partner
Find a Microsoft Store For In-Person Small Business Support