Hey Dave. This is crazy frustrating: I’m trying to change the background color on my Windows 8 Pro system and am getting an error that I need to “Activate my Windows 8 Settings”. How do I fix this?
I think you’re reading that error message slightly wrong, actually. I imagine that it say something more akin to “You must activate your Windows 8 before you can change your settings”. Which leads to the question of what exactly does Microsoft mean by activation?
(I’m tempted to say that it depends on your definition of “it” but I won’t!)
Since it’s so ridiculously easy nowadays for people to copy and download files of even 1GB or larger, the challenge companies like Microsoft have is to ensure that you bought that OS you’re running, you didn’t just grab it off the ‘net and install it. To address that, what you’re really buying when you purchase a copy of Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro is a license key. Everything else can be downloaded for free — even off the Microsoft site — but that license key? That’s pure gold and not something you can find for free. Nor should you share it, by the way: they’re generally good for one installation, not dozens or more.
Our copy of Windows 8 Pro was in a box with the master DVD of the system. Also in the box was a small plastic card, almost a credit card, that had the license activation key printed thereon. And that’s the proverbial key to the kingdom. If you have a computer that had Windows 8 preinstalled, that’s known as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) copy and it should come with your Win8 activation key in the paperwork included. If not, call ‘em up and complain: they’ve bought the license for your computer from Microsoft, they’re supposed to share the key with you in case you ever have to reinstall.
Let’s step through how to activate your copy of Windows 8 so you can see how it all works.
First off, let me try to personalize my own settings:
A click or tap and the error appears:
Ah, that’s the error you’re seeing, right?
Okay. To activate Windows you’ll need to go to “PC Settings” on the bottom of the Charms bar:
A click or tap and you’ll see a bunch of options, including the one we seek:
See the “Activate Windows” on the top? That’s what we want to click.
If it’s not there, that means that your copy of Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro is already activated and you shouldn’t be seeing the error message. In that case, I’d call up Microsoft or your PC vendor’s tech support and figure out what’s going on because something’s gone awry, alas.
Assuming that you just haven’t activated things yet, a click and you’ll see this:
Notice that Microsoft’s playing it cool here: If you have an illegal or downloaded copy of Windows 8, no judgment, just click “Buy key” and $180 or so later, you’ll have the secret sequence that’ll let you unlock the operating system. Since I know you do have a legit key, however, it’s just a matter of entering it into the system.
Do that by clicking… wait for it… wait for it… “Enter key”!
Here’s where I get a bit confused, frankly. How can I have a “current product key” if it’s telling me I need to activate the OS?
Ah well, ignore that, I guess. Once you’ve clicked the “Enter key” link, a bar will come across the screen:
For reasons that I hope are obvious by this point, I’m not going to share my Windows 8 Pro license key with you here.
Enter the key – and you can ignore case, it’ll fix it automatically, just as it adds the dashes automatically – and you won’t even have to click a button. Once you’ve typed in the last letter or digit, it’ll send the key to Microsoft’s central activation server for validation.
If it fails, enter it again. They’re tricky.
If it works, you’ll see this:
Sure enough, when you now go to that earlier customization area, your options all appear in their rainbow glory without any fuss about licenses, activations etc:
Ah, so pretty!
Hope that this helps you get past the error message and into Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro on your PC laptop or desktop system.