It’s possible to use Windows 11 indefinitely without activation. However, you’ll have to deal with certain inconveniences like the persistent watermark and restricted personalization options.
We will dive more into the problems and limitations of using unactivated Windows 11.
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Disadvantages of Not Activating Windows 11
Annoying “Activate Windows” Watermark on Screen
The most evident sign that you’re operating an unactivated copy of Windows 11 is a watermark at the bottom-right of the screen. This watermark isn’t just a minor inconvenience; it’s persistent. It overlays everything on your display, including full-screen applications, and will even make an appearance in screenshots and screencasts. Got multiple screens connected to your PC? It’ll be there too, faithfully lurking in the corner.
Limited Access to Personalization Settings
Who doesn’t love personalizing their workspace, right? With an activated Windows 11, the world is your oyster. You can switch between light and dark modes depending on your mood, choose an accent color that reflects your personality, and even switch up your desktop wallpaper whenever you please. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, with an unactivated Windows 11, you’ll lose access to most of these personalization options. The Settings > Personalization menu will look quite barren. You’ll be limited to six predefined themes, and even some accessibility options like high-contrast themes will be off-limits.
Constant Activation Reminders
If the watermark and limited personalization options weren’t enough, there’s more. You’ll be constantly reminded that your Windows 11 isn’t activated. You’ll see these reminders sprinkled throughout the Settings app and various sub-menus, with an ever-present “Activate Now” link.
And just when you think you’ve seen the last of them, pop-up notices will make an appearance, gently (read: annoyingly) reminding you that Windows 11 isn’t activated. It’s clear Microsoft would really prefer it if you went ahead and activated your copy of Windows 11.
Is Unactivated Windows 11 Safe?
Yes, running an unactivated copy of Windows 11 is, fundamentally, safe. From a legal standpoint, using Windows 11 without a license is against Microsoft’s terms of service.
Is Windows 11 Permanently Activated?
Once you activate Windows 11, it is indeed permanently activated on the device.
Can I Use Windows 11 for Free?
Well, technically, you can install and use Windows 11 without activating it. As mentioned earlier, it will run, but with limitations.
How Long Does Windows 11 Activation Last?
Once you’ve activated Windows 11, it stays activated forever! As long as you don’t make significant hardware changes to your device, the activation persists even if you reinstall the operating system.
How to remove ‘Activate Windows 11’ Watermark?
The most straightforward method to remove this watermark is by inputting a valid activation key. Once the key is accepted, the watermark disappears.
How much is the Windows 11 Activation Key?
The cost of a genuine Windows 11 Activation Key from Microsoft’s official store ranges from $139 for the Home edition to $199 for the Pro edition.
What is KMS activation and is it illegal?
Key Management Service (KMS) is a technology used by Microsoft to activate services on a local network. This is generally used in large organizations, but some rogue versions are available on the internet. These are often used to activate Windows without purchasing a license. But is it illegal? Yes. Using unofficial KMS is against Microsoft’s policies and can lead to penalties. Stick to official channels to avoid potential legal troubles and ensure your system stays secure.
Is Unactivated Windows slower?
A common myth is that an unactivated Windows 11 will run slower. In reality, there’s no significant performance difference between an activated and unactivated Windows 11. However, an unactivated version will have a permanent watermark reminder, and you’ll be unable to personalize your PC settings. Additionally, you may not receive important security updates, which can leave your system vulnerable to cyber threats.
How to deactivate Windows 11?
If you’re planning to transfer your Windows 11 license to another PC or just want to deactivate it for any reason, follow these steps:
- Click the Start button and open ‘Settings’.
- Navigate to ‘Update & Security’.
- Click on ‘Activation’.
- Select ‘Change Product Key’.
- Type in the product key for the version of Windows you want to switch to and click ‘Next’.
And there you have it! Remember, deactivating your Windows 11 license doesn’t mean you’re uninstalling the software. It simply means you’re not using the activation key on that particular system anymore.
Should You Activate Windows 11?
That’s entirely up to you! Are you okay with the “Activate Windows” watermark? Can you live without the ability to personalize your PC? If you answered yes to both questions, then you might not need to activate Windows 11. However, if you want a seamless, personalized experience, it’s recommended to purchase a genuine Windows 11 license.
And hey, if you’re just trying out Windows 11 to see if it’s the right fit for you, consider downloading a trial version first. It’s a great way to experience the OS without making an upfront investment.
Peter is an Electrical Engineer whose primary interest is tinkering with his computer. He is passionate about Windows 10 Platform and enjoys writing tips and tutorials about it.