Windows 10 sure knows how to annoy! Although in an overwhelming majority of cases, the OS works perfectly fine, but every now and then issues float up that can drive you crazy.
Take this “Your Windows license will expire soon” message that flashes on your screen all of a sudden.
You are working on your computer, assured that you had properly activated your copy of Windows 10 with your license key. But the operating system is having none of it, and throws up this message, driving you into a dizzying state of confusion.
In this detailed article, we take a look at the issues that cause this, and how to fix this problem.
Windows 10 Activation
Overall, Microsoft has done a swell job of refining the activation experience in the latest version of its operating system. Activating or updating Windows 10 used to be one of the more difficult tasks for users, requiring them to connect to different services, and throwing up different types of errors and problems in the process.
But not anymore.
Revisions to the whole activation process have made it much simpler. And thanks to a few handy built-in tools in the operating system, it is easy to check the status of your activation and remove the license keys and add them again, as and when needed.
Before we get down to business, a word about activation in Windows 10, how licenses work, and why you need to activate your copy of the operating system.
About Licenses and Product Keys
Contrary to what some people believe, Windows 10 is not free. Just like most software products, you buy a license or a product key to keep using it. These licenses even have an expiration date, which is the reason why you get these messages.
And though you can install Windows 10 without a license to use the OS without a product key, these only last 30 days. And many of the important features in the operating system and locked away, like the ability to customize or personalize it to your liking.
Long story short, a Windows 10 license or product key is really needed.
Even if you don’t buy Windows 10 direct, you can get a genuine copy of Windows 7 or 8 online for cheap, and use that to upgrade. These work fine, and are a good way to get affordable licenses to Windows 10 without paying the full price.
And finally, if you are not sure whether your license is valid or not, then you can always contact Microsoft to confirm via the Support Center and verify your product key.
The “Your Windows license will expire soon” message
Still, every now and then the wheel comes off. Even when you know that you have correctly set up and activated your Windows 10 device, it may surprise you with this threatening message that your Windows license is about to expire.
Seemingly, out of nowhere, this message pops up on your screen, filling it with this gloom warning, ad asking you to activate your copy of Windows in the Settings app. Not even a small balloon notification in the bottom-right corner like in the old days, but a rather sinister looking message that fills the screen.
What’s is even more interesting is that there is little rhyme and rhythm to when this message pops up.
You may be watching a YouTube video, or working on your spreadsheet or exam paper, and this message will be displayed. Or you may have just finished setting up your computer recently, freshly installing Windows and filling it with all your favorite apps, and lo and behold, the message is here.
It may so happen that the new laptop you purchased that came with Windows preloaded worked fine for a few months, but all of a sudden showed this annoying error. And you could also be greeted with this message right after you restart your computer after a month or two of straight use, and there it was, the next thing after you logged back in.
Oh, the nerves!
Types of Error messages
There are mainly three types of error messages relating to this “Your Windows license will expire soon” issue. They have different characteristics and appearances, pop up due to varying circumstances, and they also contrast in their irritation levels.
- Your Windows license will expire soon but Windows is activated: The most common of these errors, this one is reported by countless users. It can appear on systems that are running either activated and non-activated copies of Windows 10.
- Your Windows license will expire soon HP, Dell, ASUS: This error message is generally reported by owners of Dell, HP and ASUS machines, laptops and desktops.
- Your Windows license will expire soon keeps popping up: This is one of the infuriating error messages. And that is because it appears frequently, every few minutes or every time when you open any program, app or service.
The good thing here is that there is no reason to worry.
Not much anyway.
Fixing Windows 10 Licensing issues
We will discuss this error in detail below and show how you can get rid of the “Your Windows license will expire soon” message by applying different solutions.
This article will list everything you can do, and everything you should do, when you are served this message on your PC.
If this message comes from a genuine place, then it is very easy to fix. Even in cases where this message is served in error and you know you have activated your copy of Windows, then again, the fix is pretty straightforward. Some of these solutions may be a bit time-consuming, though.
You probably will have to try a few different things, but this issue really is not all that hard to get around.
For the sake of simplicity, we will keep the fixes short. And these are divided into sections. The first section details resolving these messages using the built-in tools and utilities in Windows 10. And the second section lists a bunch of other fixes that are known to take care of these issues.
First steps to fix “Your Windows license will expire soon” message
Not all of these are solutions to this message. But these initial steps are important in diagnosing the problem and finding out where the issue stems from. Going through these basic steps will also help you clear the confusion that may have arisen due to this message in the first place.
Check the Windows activation status
This is a good place to start. The best place to start, rather. You need to be really sure that you have an active license. In case that you do not, then your option would be to buy a genuine Windows license, either directly from Microsoft, or cheaper over at other retailers.
This is what you need to do to check the status of your Windows installation.
- Open File Explorer.
- Right-click on the This PC option in the left pane of your window. It may also show your computer name here, if you have it customized.
- Select Properties from the popup menu to open up the System
- You can also get to this panel applet by opening up the Control Panel, and navigating to System and Security, and then System.
- You should see you Windows activation status at the bottom of this applet.
Chances are that if all is well here, you probably got the license expiring message in error. But if the issue persists, then there are a few different solutions, listed below, that you can try.
Check your date and time settings
Just like food and medicines, a license or product key has a production and expiration date. Microsoft manages this in the engine room, so it’s not something you need to worry about. But if your date and time settings are messed up, this can lead to issues too.
- Right-click on your clock at the bottom of your Taskbar, and choose Adjust date/time.
- Make sure that both the Set time automatically and Set time zone automatically switches are turned on. This will let Windows 10 manage these settings on its own.
- If you need more control, then you can also click through the Additional date, time & regional settings link at the top-right.
- This will bring up the traditional Control Panel where you are able to not only adjust your date and time, but also your region.
Reboot your PC and see if the activation message is gone.
Find your Windows product key
We will have the need to manually input your Windows product key during these steps, so it’s a good idea to find your license key and keep it at hand. Although there are a couple of third-party programs that can be used for this, Command Prompt itself comes with a useful command that lists your key.
- Start Command Prompt as Administrator.
- With the window open, type wmic path SoftwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey and run this command.
Your product key will now appear.
Write it down or copy it to a safe location.
Restart your computer
Before you get down to the fixes, it is a good idea to make sure that this is not just a one-time issue. Sometimes Windows may be having trouble communicating with Microsoft activations servers, or some other problem in the operating system may be behind this pestering error message.
Simply reboot your PC a couple of times to see if the problem vanishes.
Restart the Windows Explorer process
It may pay to restart Windows Explorer, if you experience this issue the first time. For some users this is all they need to fix the issue as it may have been a result of an error. Still, this is a simple step, so it’s worth trying out.
- Open Task Manager by right-clicking on any empty area of your Taskbar.
- You can also press Win + X to bring up the Power Menu, and pressing the T
- Navigate to the Processes tab at the top of the panel.
- Here, search for Windows Explorer in the list, and right-click that process then select the Restart Alternatively, you can also select Windows Explorer, and hit the Restart button in the bottom-right hand corner of the window.
If you still encounter this issue after restarting File Explorer, then things are serious. We will need to take a few actions to get the problem sorted.
Run the Activation Troubleshooter
Microsoft has packed in an Activation Troubleshooter, starting with Windows 10 Version 1607 and later. It can be used to find licensing issues and fix them automatically. This simple troubleshooting solution is handy in how it takes care of activation problems on its own, and also serves up suggestions.
- Fire up the Settings
- Go to the Update & Security section, and click on Activation.
- You will find listed here any activation errors that are preventing your system to activate.
- Click on the Troubleshoot button to launch the Activation Troubleshooter to automatically detect any problems and fix any necessary settings.
Uninstall and delete your product key
Time to dive a little deeper and see if manually uninstalling and deleting your product key, and then inputting it again, solves the issue. Essentially, we will be resetting the licensing status of your machine, and then verify it again.
Make sure you have a copy of your product key before uninstalling it.
- Search for and locate the Command Prompt from the Start Menu.
- Open an elevated terminal window with Administrator privileges.
- If the UAC window pops up, click on Yes to give it permission to make changes.
- With the Command Prompt window open, punch in the slmgr /upk command in the terminal window and hit Enter to uninstall your product key. Wait for this command to complete before proceeding.
- Next, type the slmgr /cpky command to clear the product key from your registry. This will remove all traces of your product key from your system, and give it a fresh start.
- To complete the process, type the slmgr -rearm command and press the Enter
Do note that right after deleting your product key, you may experience your computer slowing down or freeze for a few seconds. This is quite normal. Furthermore, your device will take its sweet time with the whole rearming process, so be patient to let it finish.
Restart your PC to confirm the issue is no longer there.
At this point in time, with a clean slate, you will want to add in your product key and activate your copy of Windows 10 again.
You can fire up the Activation Troubleshooter once more to troubleshoot your licensing issues and enter the product key when prompted. Or you can enter it manually straight from the Settings app using the Change product key option under the Activation panel.
Just enter your product key in the box that pops up, and Windows 10 will handle the rest.
Hopefully, these steps are enough to fix the message once and for all. Restart to confirm, and see if the expiration message goes away. If it is not gone, then you will have to exercise a few more advanced options that are on the table.
Advanced options to fix the “Your Windows license will expire soon” message
If things are so bad that the simple fixes above are of no help, then now is the time to roll up your sleeves, and mess with a few different areas in the operating system. We take a look at how you can get rid of this problem by tinkering with the Local Group Policy Editor, as well as disabling a few services.
Change your Group Policy
Several users swear by the Group Policy Editor when it comes to fixing this licensing error, and it is very much worth a try. Although this is not specially related to licensing expiring, modifying this administrative template does seem to bring the desired result.
- Open the Run dialog by pressing the Win + R
- Type msc and hit Enter to open up the Local Group Policy Editor window.
- In the left pane, navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update.
- Double-click on the No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations
- Here, choose Enabled, and click on Apply, then OK to save your modifications.
Restart and confirm.
Disable the Windows License Management Service
Time to get rid of a few services to fix our nuisances. More specifically, the Windows License Management Service, which as the name gives away is responsible for managing licenses on your computer.
- Open Run.
- Type msc, and press Enter or OK.
- When the Services window opens, locate the Windows License Management Service, and double-click it to open its properties.
- In the Properties window, set the Startup type to Disabled. If the service is running, click the Stop button to terminate it.
- Click Apply and hit OK to save the changes.
- Now, for good measure, locate the Windows Update service as well in the main list, and double-click to open its properties.
- Again, stop the service, and set its startup type to disabled.
Doing the above steps should resolve the problem, and you won’t see this error message anymore. If you don’t experience any issues after applying this solution, then you can revert these changes, and get things back to normal.
Perform a system restore
In very rare cases, the options listed above may still not get rid of the message. If they did not help, then it may be time to do a system restore. This will bring your computer back to a previous state, before any of these errors reared their head that caused this activation or expiration problem.
- Open Control Panel.
- Select Recovery.
- Then click on the Open System Restore
- In the wizard that pops up, click Next, and then follow along by choosing a previous restore point from a date before you started seeing these messages.
- Click Finish to complete the process.
Once the process is complete, check to see if you are rid of that pesky problem.
Reset Windows 10
Followed the steps above, and still struggling with the message? Yikes! It’s time for the nuclear option. Yes, no one likes doing this. But if you are left with no choice, then resetting Windows 10 is much better than cleaning the slate altogether and doing a fresh install.
This one should be your final choice, if all the above methods fail.
But it may well fix the problem once and for all.
- Open Settings.
- Go to Update & Security.
- Choose Recovery from the pane on the left, and the click on the Get started button under the Reset this PC
- Make your selection from the two choices provided, review the programs that will be lost, and then just hit the Reset button to initiate the process.
After resetting your computer, use your product key to activate Windows 10 via the Activation Troubleshooter. It is a good idea to safely back up all your important files and program settings before you begin the reset process, ideally to an external drive, just in case something happens.
Whew! These are the handful of ways you can choose to get rid of licensing issues in Windows 10. And while the processes are basic, and don’t require much computing experience, the problem often can be complicated, and require multiple tries.
If none of the above solutions work for you, then the only way around this is to either take your PC to qualified technician, or contact your vendor for direct support.