A number of Windows 11 users have reported issues with their operating system not activating after updating their BIOS. This problem is specifically prevalent among certain motherboard models and has become a hot topic in the Microsoft Community thread.
In this comprehensive article, we will discuss the root cause of this issue, provide some workarounds that users have reported as successful in reactivating their Windows 11 systems, and offer insights into the current state of the problem.
The root cause of Windows 11 deactivated after BIOS update
The reason behind Windows 11 not activating after a BIOS update is due to the operating system detecting hardware changes. Ideally, Windows 11 should not detect any hardware changes, as it’s only a BIOS update. However, with certain motherboard models, this bug surfaces and causes the activation issue.
Also see: How to Transfer Windows 11/10 License to Another Computer
Understanding BIOS and hardware changes
The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is a low-level software that initializes the hardware components of your computer during the boot process. When you update your BIOS, you are essentially updating the firmware of your motherboard to improve compatibility, stability, and sometimes even performance. This process should not cause any changes to the hardware components connected to your motherboard.
Windows 11 uses the hardware components of your computer to generate a unique identification for your device. This identification is used to bind your Windows 11 license to your device. When you change hardware components, such as replacing the motherboard, the unique identification can change, causing Windows 11 to deactivate.
In the case of a BIOS update, Windows 11 should not treat it as a hardware change, as no physical components are being replaced. However, due to the bug affecting certain motherboards, Windows 11 incorrectly detects hardware changes and deactivates.
Related guide: How to Find Windows 11/10 Digital License Product Key
Workarounds to reactivate Windows 11 after BIOS update
As of now, there is no solid solution to this problem, as it is a compatibility issue between specific motherboards and the Windows 11 operating system. However, users have reported some workarounds that may help you reactivate your Windows 11 system before resorting to contacting Microsoft Support.
Troubleshoot Windows 11 activation
The first workaround is to use the troubleshoot button in the Settings. Follow these steps:
- Navigate to Settings > System > Activation.
- Click on Troubleshoot. The troubleshooter will likely show you the message, “We weren’t able to activate Windows on this device” due to hardware changes.
- Select the option I recently changed hardware on this device.
- Follow the prompts to reactivate your computer.
If this method doesn’t work the first time, try repeating the troubleshooting process multiple times. It’s also recommended to restart your computer before retrying the troubleshoot.
The troubleshooter’s role
The Activation Troubleshooter is designed to detect and resolve common issues related to Windows activation. It checks your device for any known problems and suggests solutions to resolve them. In this particular case, the troubleshooter is intended to help Windows 11 recognize that the hardware change detected is not significant enough to warrant deactivation.
Use Windows PowerShell commands
Another workaround is to run specific commands in Windows PowerShell before running the Windows 11 activation troubleshooter. The commands used in this workaround involve the Windows Software Licensing Management Tool (slmgr), which is a command-line tool used to manage licensing and activation in Windows. Here’s a brief explanation of each command:
slmgr -upk: This command uninstalls the product key from your computer, effectively removing the Windows 11 license.
slmgr /cpky: This command clears the product key from the Windows Registry, ensuring that it cannot be recovered by any third-party tools.
slmgr /rearm: This command resets the licensing status of your device, allowing you to enter a new product key or try activating Windows 11 again.
Warning: By running these commands, you essentially remove the existing Windows 11 license from your device and reset its activation status. This process can help resolve issues where the license is incorrectly tied to the hardware configuration, allowing you to reactivate Windows 11 after running the Troubleshooter.
To run the PowerShell commands, follow these steps:
- Press Win + X and select Windows PowerShell (Admin).
- In the PowerShell window, enter the following commands one by one, pressing Enter after each command:
slmgr -upk slmgr /cpky slmgr /rearm
- After executing the commands, rerun the Troubleshooter (as explained in the previous workaround) and select the change of hardware option to reactivate your Windows 11 system.
Contacting Microsoft Support
If none of the workarounds mentioned above work, you may have to contact Microsoft Support for assistance. Keep in mind that there is no official fix for this issue yet, as it is a compatibility problem and bug affecting certain motherboards and the Windows 11 operating system. The support team will guide you through the process of reactivating your device.
Additional insights into Windows 11 activation
To better understand the Windows 11 activation issue after a BIOS update, it’s essential to know how Windows activation works and the various types of licenses available.
Types of Windows licenses
There are primarily two types of licenses for Windows:
- Retail License: This type of license is purchased directly from Microsoft or an authorized retailer. Retail licenses can be transferred between devices, provided that the license is only active on one device at a time.
- OEM License: Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) licenses are pre-installed on new devices by the device manufacturer. These licenses are tied to the specific device and cannot be transferred to another device.
Understanding the type of license you have is crucial when dealing with activation issues, as retail licenses offer more flexibility in transferring between devices.
Digital license vs. product key
Windows 11 can be activated using a digital license or a product key. A digital license is linked to your Microsoft account, while a product key is a 25-character code used to activate Windows.
If you have a digital license, signing in with your Microsoft account on the affected device can sometimes resolve activation issues. If you have a product key, make sure to keep it safe and readily available, as you may need to provide it to Microsoft Support to resolve activation issues.
The Windows 11 activation issue after a BIOS update remains an ongoing problem for users with certain motherboard models. While there is no official fix for this bug, the workarounds discussed in this article may help you reactivate your Windows 11 system. If these workarounds do not resolve the issue, contacting Microsoft Support is the recommended course of action. As always, ensure that you perform BIOS updates correctly and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to minimize the risk of any issues.