Hello everyone. In this guide, we will be discussing Windows 10’s expiration. Before we start talking about it, I would like to explain that Windows 10 isn’t “free” as most of people think. It’s just like any product, it has an expiration date and you can always buy a license or a product key to keep using it. Note that:

  • Upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 will give you a free license for 1 year.
  • Installing Windows 10 without a license will give you free access to Windows 10 for 30 days.

Now, when this message show up, it’s either your license is really expired or it’s a problem that needs to be fixed. If you’re not sure if your copy is supposed to be valid or not, I would recommend that you contact Microsoft’s Support Center.

But if you’re sure it’s a mistake, then it’s time to fix it. Follow the following steps one by one to get through it.

Step I: Just restart your computer

Before performing any fixes, it’s always better to make sure it’s not just a one-time issue. So, if you are facing this error for the first time, it’s good to give your computer a couple of restarts and see if the problem vanishes. If you still encounter it after rebooting your computer, then it’s serious and you need to take some actions and that’s what we’re offering in the next steps. Macro of black car dashboard with buttons saying "start engine stop"

Step II: Uninstall and delete your product key

First of all, we are going to reset the licensing status of the machine and reboot the computer. If it won’t work we will take the slightly more drastic measure of uninstalling your Windows 10 product key and deleting it from your registry. That will allow us to reinstall it later from scratch which will solve the problem in most cases.

Note that right after deleting your product key, your computer may slow down or even freeze. You will then need to be patient and let your computer take its time and you will then be able to accomplish the task. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

One final thought… Make sure you have a copy of your product key before uninstalling it. It should be in an email from whoever sold or distributed Windows to you, or on the box the Windows DVD or USB came in. Shortly, in Step III, we’re going to reinstall it.

Ready to go? Follow me:

  1. Type “cmd” in your start menu, right-click on Command Prompt and choose Run as administrator.
  2. Click Yes to give it permission.
  3. Type slmgr -rearm and hit Enter.
  4. Click Ok and restart your computer and see if the problem is fixed. If it’s not, keep following the steps.
  5. If resetting the licensing status didn’t work, go back to CMD (Admin) and type the following command and hit Enter: slmgr /upk
  6. A message saying “Uninstalled product key successfully”, click Ok to take the next steps.
  7. Still on the Command Prompt windows, type this command and then hit Enter: slmgr /cpky
  8. Now that we have cleared the product key from Registry, there must be no trace of it on your computer. Click Ok and Reboot your computer.

Now that you have fully deleted your License, continue to Step III to re-insert the product key.

Step III: Use the Troubleshooter to detect and fix any issues

During this process, the troubleshooter will check any activation issue and try to fix it. It may also succeed in reactivating the product key. If not, we’ll insert the key manually. Check the steps below:

  1. After rebooting your computer from the last step, head into Settings at your start menu.
  2. Click on the Update & Security icon.
  3. Now from the left pane, select Activation and click on Troubleshoot at the bottom of the screen to launch the troubleshooter.
  4. Wait for a little while until it detects activation problems.
  5. If the troubleshooter could fix it right away and activate your Windows 10 automatically then you’re good.

If the troubleshooter didn’t succeed to activate your computer, then it’s time to re-activate it manually: this is what Step IV is for.

Step IV: Enter your product key manually

Get your product key from the email or box we mentioned before and let’s enter it.

  1. ِClick on Change Product Key next to the key icon to re-enter your Product key.
  2. Enter your product key in the white rectangle and then click Next to reactivate it.
  3. Now it’s time to restart your computer and see if the expiration message is gone.

If you encounter any problems using this way, or if the message isn’t gone, go on and follow the next step.

Step V: Disable two services

We will try to disable these two Windows services and see if they are the reason for the issue:

  • Windows License Manager Service
  • Windows Update

I really wouldn’t recommend that you disable Windows update for more than a month because of the important security updates that Microsoft releases from time to time. So we will do it now and see if it solves your problem, but in about a month, re-enable Windows update and see if any major update is available. You can put this in your calendar.

  • Type “run” in your start menu and choose Run or press Windows key + R to launch it.
  • Type services.msc and then click OK.
  • In the services list, look for Windows License Manager Service and double click on it.
  • In the general tab, hit the Stop button if active to stop the service while changing its properties.
  • Change the Startup type to Disabled and then click Ok.
  • Now look for Windows Update and double click on it.
  • In the general tab, hit the Stop button if active to stop the service so you could change its properties.
  • Change the Startup type to Disabled and then click Ok.
  • Restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

If the problem persists, then maybe you have a problem with your date and time settings. Step VI will help you fix it if it’s the case.

Step VI: Check your date and time settings

A license or product key has a production and an expiration date, just like food or medication. That’s why if your date / time settings are messed up, this might cause the issue you’re facing. That’s why I advise you to take a look at it and fix whatever needs fixing. Here’s where you check and control it:

  • Right-click on your clock at the bottom-right corner and choose Adjust date/time.
  • Turn on both Set time automatically and Set time zone automatically. These two will get you the best date/time and region settings.
  • If you need more control , then select the Additional date, time, & regional settings.
  • This will bring up the traditional control panel page where you can adjust your date, time and finally your region.
  • Now reboot your computer and see if the activation message is gone. Still there? It’s okay, Step VII will help you out.

Step VII: Restore your computer to a previous point

If none of the previous steps helped you out, then you might need to perform a system restore. This will bring back your computer to a previous state, before any errors happened that caused the expiration / activation problem.

  • Open Control Panel and search for recovery.
  • Open System restore.
  • Click Next.
  • Choose a previous restore point from a date before you started seeing the “your windows will expire soon” message, and click Next.
  • Click Finish.
  • After restarting your computer, check if you’re still getting the “expired” message.

Last hope: Reset Windows 10

Yeah, no one likes doing this, but if all the previous ways failed you, you have to reset your Windows 10 to reach the root of the issue. The good part is that resetting Windows 10 is a better alternative than a clean Windows 10 installation because you have the option to keep your files. But I always recommend that you backup your data on an external storage drive just in case. This one should be your last choice if all the above methods failed, and I do believe it will fix the problem. Here’s how to do it:

  • Open your Settings from the start menu.
  • Click on Update & Security.
  •  Choose Recovery from the left pane and click on the Get started button under the Reset PC section.
  • Now you are totally free to make your choice but it’s worth giving the Keep my files option a shot.
  • Review the programs that will be lost and make sure you can recover them back yourself after the reset and then click Next.
  • One step close to Reset. Just HIT IT! You can do it!

After resetting, you’re less likely to face the license problem again, but if it shows up, just use the troubleshooter and re-enter the activation Key, as in Step III. This will be enough to fix it.

Still stuck? Ask your question in our forum!

About Author

Mina studies communications and electronics engineering and works as a technical support. He keeps himself up to date with the latest developments and news in technology. He loves helping people with their daily tech issues, so he's always ready to go the extra mile.

6 Comments

  1. Hi, I have a question Sir.

    I have w10 and it is nearly expiring. About less than a month. If I disable the updates like I followed what you wrote , can it prolong my used on w10?

    • Hey Yaj, unfortunately, this won’t prolong your Windows 10 usage. If you are a student, maybe if you get your own educational email (university / school), Microsoft can give you a free license key to use.

  2. I have WINDOWS 10 which was the FREE upgrade when Microsoft brought in WINDOWS 10 some time ago. I am now getting a reminder to ‘Activate Windows’ How can I? when I was not given any product details when it was automatically updated via download. I done even know where to find their licence.

    Your help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Hello Mahmood, seems like your license is expiring after one year of upgrading, this was maybe a trial version and then you will need to buy a license. Have you bought a license for the old version you were using? Was it pre-installed on your machine? Please give me more details and I’ll do my best to help you.

  3. My XPS 15 9560 is having this message also even the product key is already embedded to the bios.

    I already reset my laptop but still getting the same message.

    Anything you can add to the “last hope” you made?

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