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How to Fix Office 365 Won’t Activate - A Comprehensive Guide

February 19, 2024 1.0K views

Microsoft Office is a great asset, delivering on its promises by providing an efficient work environment and high-quality tools to meet your office needs seamlessly. However, the activation process can sometimes present a significant learning curve. If you encounter difficulties with activation, there may be several underlying reasons. While addressing these reasons individually could potentially resolve the issue, we've compiled a comprehensive list of solutions in this article to assist you further with why Microsoft Office won’t activate.

 How to Fix Office 365 When It Won’t Activate

How to Fix Office 365 When It Won’t Activate

Reasons for Office 365 Won’t Activate

There can be various reasons why Microsoft Office 365 won't activate, and understanding these common issues can help troubleshoot activation problems effectively. Here are some common scenarios and examples to help identify the root cause:

  • Pre-installed License Interference:  Some computers come with pre-installed Office licenses from manufacturers like Dell or HP. These licenses may conflict with a new license, causing activation issues. For example, attempting to activate a new Office subscription on a computer that already has an OEM-installed Office license may result in activation failure.

  • Wrong Account Sign-ins : Using the wrong Microsoft account to sign in during the activation process can result in activation failure. For instance, if you inadvertently sign in with a personal Microsoft account instead of a business account associated with your Office subscription, activation may fail.

  • Office Overload: Having multiple versions or copies of Office installed on the same computer may cause conflicts and activation issues. For example, having both Office 2019 and Office 365 installed simultaneously could lead to activation problems.

  • Subscription Status concerns: If using a subscription-based Office version, failure to renew the subscription or an expired subscription can lead to activation problems. For instance, attempting to activate Office 365 after the subscription has expired will result in activation failure.

  • Internet Connectivity Issues: Poor internet connection or network issues can prevent Office from communicating with Microsoft servers for activation. For example, activation may fail if the computer is not connected to the internet or if there are firewall restrictions blocking communication with Microsoft servers.

  • Troubleshooting Activation Issues: A corrupted installation of Office files or registry entries may hinder the activation process. For instance, if Office installation files are damaged or incomplete, activation may fail.

  • Date and Time Configuration: Incorrect system date and time settings can cause activation failures. For example, if the system date and time are set incorrectly, Office activation may be rejected by Microsoft servers.

  • License Key issues: If using a volume license, issues with the key or its allocation may prevent activation. For example, if the volume license key is invalid or has exceeded the maximum number of activations, Office activation will fail.

How to Fix Office 365 Activation Errors

Even seasoned technical experts may find themselves puzzled when confronted with the issue of Microsoft Office 365 failing to activate. Resolving this problem requires some investigation to identify the underlying cause. The solution for rectifying the appearance of Microsoft Office as an unlicensed product can vary depending on the specific circumstances. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you're on the right path towards resolving the activation issue.

Method 1: Check your account

It's highly probable that you forgot to sign in with the correct account. Many users inadvertently use their personal email address instead of their work or school email, which is associated with their Microsoft Office 365 subscription. This common mistake can easily be resolved by signing in with the email linked to your Microsoft Office 365 subscription.

Step 1: Open any Microsoft 365 application, such as Word or Excel, and head to the "Account" section located in the menu bar.

Step 2: Within the "Account" section, you'll find information about your current login credentials. If you need to manage subscriptions or log out, click on "Manage Account".

Step 3: This action will redirect you to your Microsoft Account page on the official website, where you can perform further actions.

 Microsoft Office Word Account

Microsoft Office Word Account

Step 4: Once on the Microsoft Account page, look for the user icon located in the top right corner. Click on it and select "Sign in with a different account" if you need to switch to an alternative login.

Microsoft Accounts page

Microsoft Accounts page

Step 5: Alternatively, if you want to review your subscriptions, navigate to the "Subscription" tab in the left-side panel. Here, you can access details about your current Microsoft 365 plan and make any necessary changes.

Microsoft Subscriptions

Microsoft Subscriptions

Method 2: Check your Office 365 Subscription

It's possible that you may have overlooked the last time you checked your license update, which is understandable as tracking such details can be tedious. Subscriptions often have a certain timeline, and yours may have expired, prompting the need for renewal. Here's how you can check your subscription status:

Step 1: Begin by accessing the Microsoft Office Services & Subscriptions page using your preferred web browser.

Step 2: If you're not already signed in, enter your credentials associated with your Microsoft subscription to log in.

Step 3: Review the details of your Office subscription, which can be found under the "Subscription" section or may be listed separately as "Cancel Subscription".

Microsoft Office Subscription

Microsoft Office Subscription

Step 4: In the event that your subscription has lapsed, navigate to the Renew Microsoft 365 Family section and proceed with renewing your subscription.

Step 5: Once you've successfully renewed your subscription, close and reopen any Office applications you have running. The activation message should now be resolved.

Method 3: Update Office 365

If you're using your registered email account and still encountering problems, it's worth checking for updates to resolve any unlicensed product errors in Microsoft Office.

Step 1: Open any Microsoft Office application, such as Word, PowerPoint, or Excel.

Step 2: Go to the "Account" section in the left-side panel to view your account details.

Step 3: Within the Accounts window, click on "Update Options" and then select "Update". Microsoft Office will then search for updates and install any necessary files automatically.

Microsoft Office Updates

Microsoft Office Updates

Method 4: Remove old Office licenses

If you have old Office licenses and want to remove them before installing a new version, follow these steps:

Step 1: Locate Microsoft Office Installation Directory

  • Open File Explorer.and navigate to "Program Files" or "Program Files (x86)" depending on your system.

  • Look for a folder named "Office16" (for newer versions) or "Office15" (for older versions). Double-click on it to open.

Step 2: Copy the Installation Path

  • Copy the path of the Office directory. You can do this by clicking on the address bar and copying the path.

    Window Explorer Copy File Path

    Window Explorer Copy File Path

Step 3: Open Command Prompt as Administrator

  • Press the Windows key and type "cmd" and right-click on "Command Prompt".

  • From the context menu, choose "Run as administrator" and then click on "Yes" to confirm.

Open Command Prompt

Open Command Prompt

Step 4: Change Directory to Office Folder

  • In the Command Prompt, type “cd” followed by a space and then right-click to paste the path you copied.

  • Hit Enter to change the directory.

Command Prompt Change Directory to Office Folder

Command Prompt Change Directory to Office Folder

Step 5: Check the Directory

  • Type “dir” and press Enter to confirm you're in the correct directory. You should see files related to Microsoft Office.

Command Prompt Check Directory

Command Prompt Check Directory

Step 6: Uninstall the Office Product Key

  • Paste the provided command into the Command Prompt:

cscript ospp.vbs /unpkey:

  • Replace

    with the actual five characters you noted earlier and then press “Enter”.

Command Prompt Uninstall the Office Product Key

Command Prompt Uninstall the Office Product Key

Step 7: Verify Successful Uninstallation

  • Confirm that the Office product key has been successfully uninstalled.

 Command Prompt Office 365 Successfully Uninstalled

Command Prompt Office 365 Successfully Uninstalled

Step 8: Uninstall Microsoft Office

  • Initiate the process by searching for the Control Panel in the search bar.

  • Open the Control Panel and navigate to the "Uninstall" option under the Programs section.

  • Locate your Office program, right-click on it, and select "Uninstall" to remove it from your system.

Uninstalling Microsoft Office on Windows

Uninstalling Microsoft Office on Windows

Step 9: Install Newer Version:

  • After successful uninstallation, visit the official Microsoft website using your web browser.

Note: Commands and steps may slightly vary based on your Windows version. Ensure you have the necessary permissions to perform administrative tasks.

Method 5: Reinstall Office 365

If nothing else seems to be working, consider reinstalling as a last resort. While it can be a hassle and time-consuming, starting from scratch may effectively resolve the issue and prevent further problems.

Step 1: Begin by accessing the Control Panel through the search bar on your Windows desktop.

Step 2: Once in the Control Panel, navigate to the "Programs" section and locate the option labeled "Uninstall a program". Click on it to proceed. Note: The location of this option may vary depending on your Windows version.

Step 3: Find your Office program from the list of installed applications, then right-click on it and select "Uninstall" to begin the removal process from your system.

Step 4: Upon successful uninstallation, open your preferred web browser and visit the official Microsoft website.

Windows 11 Uninstall Microsoft Office

Windows 11 Uninstall Microsoft Office

Step 5: Sign in with your Microsoft account credentials and proceed to download the Office application suitable for your Windows version.

Step 6: After downloading and installing the Office application, launch any Office app, sign in with your Microsoft account, and begin utilizing the Office suite for your productivity needs.

Steps to Activate Office 365 with Product Key

Activating your Microsoft Office 2016 product with the product key is a straightforward process. Follow these steps for a seamless activation experience:

Step 1: Open any Microsoft Office 2016 app on your system and navigate to the Account tab.

Step 2: Click "Activate Product" as Microsoft Office 2016 is initially not activated.

Microsoft Office 2016 Activate Product

Microsoft Office 2016 Activate Product

Step 3: Choose "I don't want to sign in or create an account" and proceed.

Microsoft set up Office dialog

Microsoft set up Office dialog

Step 4: Insert your product key in the provided window to activate Microsoft Office 2016.

Microsoft use Product Key

Microsoft use Product Key

Step 5: If Microsoft Office 2016 is not installed, visit the Office setup page in your browser and follow the activation steps.

Step 6: Sign in or link a new email address to your Microsoft Office 2016 subscription and then click on “Next”.

Microsoft Office Sign in

Microsoft Office Sign in

Step 7: Once logged in, go to the Microsoft Account page, view subscription details, and click "Install" to install Microsoft Office apps.

 Microsoft Install Office Apps

Microsoft Install Office Apps

Step 8: Follow the installation steps, open any Office app, click "Sign in", and log in with your registered account.

 Microsoft Office 2016 sign in

Microsoft Office 2016 sign in

Step 9: Review the email ID in the Activate Office window and click "Next".

Microsoft Activate Office 2016

Microsoft Activate Office 2016

Step 10: Upon successful activation, a Product Activated dialog box will appear. Click OK and enjoy unrestricted access to Microsoft Office 2016.

Microsoft Office 2016 activated

Microsoft Office 2016 activated

Use Best Free Alternative to Office 365

Microsoft Office stands as an industry standard, coveted by many. However, for newcomers, especially those diving into the 365 version, navigating its complexities can feel like scaling a steep learning curve, even for those accustomed to older iterations. Unfortunately, Microsoft Office often positions itself primarily for professional users. Yet, amidst this landscape, numerous office suites emerge, aiming to cater to users across all proficiency levels. Among them, WPS Office shines as a standout choice, offering exceptional value within the office suite market.

WPS Office

WPS Office

It accommodates both beginners and seasoned professionals alike, fostering a user-friendly environment. Installation is swift, requiring just a few minutes, and the added benefit to it is that; no cumbersome product keys or activation processes; it's entirely free and compatible with a wide array of systems.

How to Open and Save Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint in WPS Office

Whether you're working with Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or PowerPoint presentations, WPS Office has you covered. Open, edit, and share these files effortlessly without worrying about compatibility issues.

Step 1: To access your files, open WPS Office and click the "Files" tab in the left-hand panel.

Step 2: Whether it's a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint presentation, or even a PDF, you'll find them all neatly organized here. Open any file with a simple click.

WPS Office open file

WPS Office open file

Step 3: Your selected file has been opened successfully. Feel free to make any edits you need.

Step 4: To save your changes and keep the current file format, click "Menu" and then select "Save".

WPS Office save file

WPS Office save file

How to Edit PDF in WPS Office

Unleash your PDF potential! Go free with WPS. Convert, merge, edit, organize - become a ninja with this helpful guide.

Step 1: Access the PDF you wish to alter using WPS Office.

Step 2: You can change your PDFs with the Edit tab. Users can change captions, callouts, and photos for impactful communication.

WPS PDF Edit tab

WPS PDF Edit tab

Step 3: Go to the Fill & Sign tab if you’d like to add a signature in your PDF.

WPS PDF Fill & Sign

WPS PDF Fill & Sign

Step 4: Hit "Menu" and "Save" to keep your PDF updates safe.

 WPS PDF Save PDF

WPS PDF Save PDF

Note: Secure backups by clicking CTRL + S to protect your PDF edits.

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FAQs

Q1. What security risks are associated with unactivated Office 365?

Unactivated Office 365 lacks crucial security updates, exposing your data to potential exploits, malware, and threats, compromising both data integrity and user privacy.

Q2. Can I activate Office 365 on multiple devices?

Yes, you can activate Office 365 on multiple devices, subject to the terms of your subscription. However, be aware that certain subscription plans may have limitations on the number of devices allowed for activation. Always check your specific plan details to ensure compliance with licensing terms.

Q3. Does Office 365 activation require an internet connection?

Yes, a stable internet connection is essential for Office 365 activation. The software requires internet access to verify your subscription and download necessary updates as part of the activation process. Ensure a reliable connection to complete the activation successfully.

Work Efficiently With WPS Office

Microsoft Office often comes with a hefty workload, particularly when it involves installation, activation, and licensing processes. It can be a tiresome endeavor especially, when the Microsoft Office won’t activate. However, WPS Office presents itself as a compelling alternative. Not only does it boast all the advanced capabilities found in the latest office suites, but it also does so with remarkable lightweightness. This means you can enjoy top-notch features with ease and comfort, without anything hindering your productivity. Download WPS Office now and experience a seamless transition to enhanced productivity.


15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.