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Issue #748: November 21-27, 2021

Q: Is there is a post and an answer on how to remove the banner ‘Need to renew Microsoft Windows 10 License’ that appears on the start-up for Windows 10?

 – Ellis B.
Niceville, Florida

A: At present, there is neither a post nor an answer that deals with that question Ellis.  Well, there wasn’t when I started writing this edition, but if you’re reading it, then obviously, that has changed, and there are now both a post and an answer.  Funny how it just seems to work out that way.

Let me start by saying that I’ve never seen, nor even heard of the particular message that you cited.  That’s not unusual – I can’t possibly know every single message that Windows chooses to pop up on you.  But what’s causing me to stop and wonder twice about this is that Windows 10 doesn’t require its license to be renewed.  Also, Windows doesn’t tend to display such information in anything that I would call a “banner.”  It would have helped immensely if you had included a screen capture of the error message.

With my extremely limited knowledge of your problem, I can only speculate.  My first inclination is to suspect a malware infection.  One might ask, “What does anyone have to gain from such a scam?”  Well, if they can convince you that they’re actually Microsoft, they can trick you into giving up anything from your Windows login credentials to your credit card information.  All of this information is worth real cash money in the dark corners of the Internet where such things are bought and sold.  If it is indeed malware, your best bet is to find one or two quality malware scanners and let them do their thing on your PC.  The only thing that bothers me about this is that if it is malware, someone else, somewhere should have some knowledge of it, and should have posted remediation information online.  I did a search for the message, exactly as you posted it, but didn’t find anything.  Perhaps what you cited was the gist of the message, rather than the exact text?  If so, my search is in vain anyway.

Another possibility is that your copy of Windows hasn’t been properly registered with Microsoft.  Although there were, and are, many ways of obtaining Windows 10 itself for free, the product license still needs to be registered with Microsoft.  It will work for a limited amount of time without the registration, but it will remind you every time you boot that it needs to be registered and will eventually refuse to boot altogether.  Now, the wording of that message isn’t even close to the one you shared.  If, however, this somehow is the issue you’re dealing with, the way to solve it is to fully register your copy of Windows. 

There are protections built into the process to ensure only legitimate copies can be registered, which in the land of Windows is called activation (even though it may already be what any sane person would consider to be “active”).  You can check the activation status of your copy of Windows 10 by clicking the Start button, then selecting “Settings” (the gear icon) then clicking “Update & Security” and finally “Activation.”  At the top of the box, it will tell you what Edition of Windows you have (Home, Professional, etc.) and the Activation status.  I would submit that if it states that Windows is already activated, and a digital license was issued, that you need to go back and concentrate on the possibility of a Malware infection.  If you do need to perform an activation, you will need a Windows 10 Product Key – a long series of numbers that corresponds to one single installation of Windows.  A Product Key is almost always accompanied by a holographic sticker with the code printed on it.  Any given Product Key is only valid to install Windows on one PC, and these codes are what Microsoft uses to ensure a single copy is not licensed on multiple PCs.

By following the instructions here, you should be able to determine whether the problem is a legitimate licensing issue (which I doubt) or some piece of malware attempting to trick you into giving up personal information (which I suspect).  Tread cautiously, and don’t enter any information into an online form unless you’re absolutely sure the person or entity on the other end is legitimate.

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