Yes, you read that right: you can download, install, and use Windows 11 without a license key. Microsoft doesn’t require you to have one to get Windows 11 on your computer, and it also allows you to use Windows 11 indefinitely, without ever activating your copy. However, a few limitations do come into place until you buy a Windows 11 product key. Do you want to know more about it? Then we invite you to read on:
Microsoft allows you to download the Windows 11 installation kit without requiring any details from you. It doesn’t ask for a Microsoft account or a Windows product key to let you get it from their servers.
Start by using your favorite web browser to go to this webpage: Download Windows 11. From there, download the Media Creation Tool using the Download Now button under the “Create Windows 11 Installation Media” section and use it to create a bootable USB memory stick or DVD with Windows 11. Alternatively, if you want to make the bootable media using other third-party tools such as Rufus or install Windows 11 inside a virtual machine, you can choose to download a Windows 11 ISO file directly.
Once you have the Windows 11 installation media ready, boot your computer, device, or virtual machine from it. Then, start installing Windows 11 normally by following each step of the setup wizard.
If you need a bit of help with that, make sure you read this detailed guide we’ve created for you: How to install Windows 11 from USB, DVD, or ISO.
When the setup wizard asks you to Activate Windows, click or tap on “I don’t have a product key” at the bottom of the window.
Once that’s out of the way, continue installing Windows 11 as you normally would. Microsoft won’t ask again for the Windows 11 product key during the installation.
What happens if you install Windows 11 without a product key? The answer is it depends:
- If you had previously installed Windows 11 on the same PC and you activated it, either by providing a Windows 11 product key or by upgrading from an activated copy of Windows 10, then your new Windows 11 is also automatically activated for free.
- If this is the first time you install Windows 11 on your PC and it never had a running activated Windows 11 operating system on it, then Microsoft doesn’t activate your new Windows 11. So, in this case, although you didn’t need a Windows 11 product key to install it, the operating system is not activated. So you can use Windows 11, but it has a few limitations, as you’ll soon find out.
If you installed Windows 11 without a product key and it’s not activated, Microsoft allows you to use it forever. However, you do get a couple of limitations when using it, even if there’s nothing scary about them, to be honest:
- After a while, Windows 11 starts and keeps showing an “Activate Windows” watermark in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
- Personalization options from the Settings app are unavailable for as long as Windows 11 is not activated.
- You get some small but unobtrusive notifications inside the Settings app, telling you that your Windows 11 is not activated, and recommendations to purchase a Windows 11 product key.
Other than that, Windows 11 is perfectly functional, so you can use it how you want, for as long as you want.
As you’ve seen, Microsoft allows you to download, install, and use Windows 11 without a license key. Even more so, unlike in older Windows operating systems, you can use it forever, albeit with a few customization limitations. So do you intend to use Windows 11 without activating it? Let us know in the comments section below.