7 Reasons Why You Should Never Use a Non-Activated Copy of Windows

While Microsoft allows users to install and use Windows 10 or 11 without activating, some restrictions apply. These limitations restrict our access to certain features and seriously threaten our privacy. But what exactly are these limitations? And how does Windows activation help us overcome them?

Why does Microsoft allow users to run unactivated Windows?

In the days of Windows XP and Vista, Microsoft rendered the operating system unusable after the trial period ended. Therefore, people were left with a choice: buy the official copy or get a cracked version at a lower price, even free. The result was that cracked copies and license keys remained prevalent, resulting in substantial financial losses for Microsoft.

To remedy this problem, Microsoft has begun to allow Windows 10 users to continue using it without activating it. This step has drastically reduced piracy and most Windows users end up paying for the license. Those who do not activate the operating system still use other Microsoft products – this is a win-win situation for Microsoft.

Since then, Microsoft has allowed Windows 10 and 11 users to run an unactivated version of the operating system for as long as they want. However, it is essential to consider the following downsides if you plan to use unactivated Windows for a long time:


1. Lack of security updates

Microsoft regularly releases updates to add new features to the operating system and make it more secure. Although Microsoft makes updates available for non-activated Windows, free users often do not receive security updates. This means that unlicensed users will always be at risk of viruses or hackers infiltrating their systems.

Also, whenever a bug fix or patch is released, a licensed Windows automatically applies it as soon as it becomes available. Conversely, users with non-activated operating systems have been suffering from annoying problems for a long time. Therefore, it is worth activating the operating system to ensure security and uninterrupted use.

2. Delays in introducing new builds and features

In the same way that Microsoft may skip sending critical security updates on unactivated Windows, it may also take longer than usual for new features to become available. Therefore, while your friends would enjoy the new builds of Windows with their OS activated, you may be stuck with outdated versions.

Therefore, if you don’t want to lag behind your friends in getting new builds and enjoying new features, activate your operating system.

3. An annoying “Activate Windows” watermark on the screen

An “Activate Windows” watermark appears in the lower right corner of the non-activated operating system screen. Essentially, it reminds users to activate Windows when they have the option and not to use an unactivated version.

A disadvantage of this watermark is that it locks the screen and also appears when you take a screenshot. Although there are several workarounds to remove the “Activate Windows” watermark, Windows Activation is the ultimate solution to remove this watermark.

4. Continuous reminders to activate Windows

Even if you follow the workarounds to remove the “Activate Windows” watermark, Microsoft will still send you frequent reminders to activate your operating system.

If you are using a trial version, the reminder will inform you of its expiration and suggest that you activate it to use the limited features. The only way to get rid of this annoying popup is to activate Windows.

5. It is not possible to customize a non-activated copy of Windows

Although Microsoft allows unlicensed users to use non-activated Windows, it does not allow them to change the appearance of their operating system. Therefore, you will be greeted every day with the same appearance, which may take away the charm of using the operating system.

Non-activated windows cannot be customized in the following ways:

  • The background of the operating system cannot be changed and you will not be able to adjust how it fits the screen. Also, you won’t be able to use new features like Windows Spotlight, which automatically changes the wallpaper every day.
  • Dark mode, transparency effects, accent colors and other color settings will not be available.
  • You will not be able to change current themes, install new ones from the Microsoft Store, or change the contrast of available themes.
  • There will be a limit to how you can customize the lock screen.
  • You cannot change your font or add new ones to the operating system.
  • Last but not least, you won’t be able to customize the Windows Start Menu and Taskbar.


On a non-activated Windows PC, all the options described above will be disabled in the personalization settings. Unless you activate the operating system, they will remain the same.

6. Windows updates will no longer be free

Microsoft allows users to upgrade to a newer version of Windows, such as Windows 11, for free if their system meets the Windows 11 requirements. However, this option is only available to users who have already activated the own operating systems.

Non-activated users must reinstall the new operating system using different workarounds, but even Windows installed using these workarounds remains unactivated. Therefore, since you will receive all future OS updates for free, why not purchase a license once and use it for life?

It is completely legal to use the non-activated version of Windows for individual or personal use, and Microsoft does not limit the time of use. However, it is not recommended for commercial use. This is because if a check occurs and you fail to present the software license information, you can end up in serious trouble.


Also, if someone in your organization uses illegal methods to activate Windows without your knowledge, it could put you in serious trouble. Therefore, you should activate Windows on Windows-based PCs in your organization to avoid legal problems.

Buy Windows once and you will never regret it

Hopefully, you are now aware of the limitations of using an unactivated Windows and the associated risks. Furthermore, the logic behind activating Windows should also be clear. Finally, since Windows is a one-time purchase, why not invest in it?

When you are ready to activate Windows, buy an official copy and avoid the pirated ones. A pirated copy will degrade your computer’s performance, hackers can easily infiltrate your system, and you won’t get any updates, making you more vulnerable – it’s not worth the risk.

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