Q: I have been getting messages on my computer stating that my Windows license is nearing its expiration date. Is that message from Microsoft, as it claims to be? If it is authentic, what is the cost of renewal? I am a simple guy, use my computer for e-mail, word processing and internet only. ~ Bob McDonnell Bellingham, WA
Tech+ Your Windows license does not expire — for the most part. But other things might, such as Office 365, which typically charges monthly. Or, if you installed an early version of Windows before it was finalized, that build could expire.
More recently, Microsoft pushed out a Windows 10 “Fall Creators Update,” which is a required update. You may get a warning that if you don’t install the new update that your Windows will be out of date.
You didn’t mention what version of Windows you’re using, but if you had started with Windows 7 or 8 and moved up to the free Windows 10 before it launched in 2015, there’s a chance you downloaded an early version, a.k.a. Windows 10 Insider builds. Check which version and build of Windows you have by following these steps:
- Right click the “Start” button and select “Run” (or type “Run” in the Windows search area until it pops up as an option)
- Type “winver” and hit enter
- This will tell you what version/build is on your computer.
According to Microsoft, builds 15042 and 15058 have no expiration date. But an assortment of others do. To see a list of expiration warnings and dates, see Microsoft’s page about it at dpo.st/winbuilds.
If you’re an ordinary Windows user, it’s probably unlikely you used one of these Insider builds. But, as pointed out by a Windows 10 Insider blog, a different version of Windows may have been installed on your PC by a repair shop and replaced your original Windows product key with a different one. If you’re using the professional version of Windows, there could be issues because pro-versions are often managed by a company and have different licensing agreements.
You may need to track down your original Windows license and documentation and then reactivate your Windows product key. Some helpful pages on finding your key and activating it:
And then there is the issue of the end-of-life support for older versions of Windows. But what that means is Microsoft won’t be offering regular security or feature updates. I wrote about that here. The version of Windows will still work, but you may not be protected. You can see dates here: dpo.st/winendoflife
Lastly, be wary of strange messages saying that your Windows has expired so call (insert scam number here) to renew. This past Q&A might be of use: Your Microsoft Windows license expired so pay up (Nooooooo!!!) or dpo.st/2ccLleV