In short, Windows computers always have the technical identifier installed on the outside of the device or notebook computer. But in recent years, manufacturers have started processing data on UEFI/BIOS computers, and this information is retrieved and used in the recovery process. This is the best way. In some cases, when creating and installing software, your keys are linked to your Microsoft account, so you never lose them again.
Microsoft has changed and improved the way Windows management licenses. This article covers everything you need to know, starting with the old ways of getting to the modern ways to make the most of your license and the types of restrictions that apply depending on the category.
Windows 10 includes a “digital owner” feature for Microsoft licenses that is associated with an identification key based on your PC. When the annual celebratory update for 2016 (1607) arrives, this right will be extended to a “digital license” because updating your device can drastically change your device.
This means that your Windows 10 license now allows you to log in with the correct online credentials and a system copy by linking your Windows key to your Microsoft account.
So, if you have a new Windows PC or you are already logged in using your Microsoft account, you usually need to see the correct Windows 10 key. Let’s explain in a moment.
However, there may be other situations if you want to find the Windows key that is stored manually in the UEFI/BIOS or prevent it from being used automatically during installation. Of course, there are different terms for non-OEM retail keys, not for those who have upgraded to Windows 10 for free. In the worst case, you will find a licensed version of Windows that no longer to boots.
The difference between Windows OEM keys, Retail, and Free Upgrade
There are Windows licenses with different license terms generally, under the terms of Microsoft as provider that explained below:
- OEM keys are transferred to another computer and cannot be transferred to another computer. They are also installed automatically by UEFI/BIOS when you install Windows on modern computers, but you can download them again.
- Retail keys are purchased directly from Microsoft as provider, and also available on the online shop like Amazon, etc. – They can be transferred to another computer, and the process is automatic for digital licenses, but you can “remove” the Windows limits from some computers.
- Upgrading from Windows 7 and 8 to Windows 10 for free do not have a Windows 10 key. It will only be transferred from one computer to another (the OEM licence will not be updated) that enforced as Free Renewal License Digital Rights.
Do I have a digital license?
In Windows 10 setup, there is a page that displays your activation information, including if you have a digital license, even though your key are not listed here:
Go to: Settings > Update & Security > Activation
If you have a digital license, you should keep show it “Windows is activated with a digital license” or in other forms “Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account”.
You can also associate your Microsoft number with your Windows license by clicking “add a Microsoft Account” at the bottom of the same page and provide your login details.
Find your key in Windows
Type the following line in the Admin Command Prompt or PowerShell to view the OEM button installed in your system’s UEFI/BIOS. However, even though this command activated Windows 10, the two other machines used for testing were not assigned the keys.
wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey
powershell “(Get-WmiObject -query ‘select * from SoftwareLicensingService’).OA3xOriginalProductKey”
Visual Basic Script Windows Registry Key Recovery (not stored in UEFI/BIOS) has been launched and you can download the script. Copy this text and paste it into Notepad and save it as a .vbs file, then double click to start the file.
Third-party tools that find Windows keys
Download a variety of utilities that can recover Windows keys and sales keys related to UEFI/BIOS. In final testing, there are some applications found the registry and UEFI/BIOS keys, while the others only functioned once in current system.
Nirsoft ProduKey – Find the OEM key and commercial key for your version of Windows. The keys belong to many other applications, such as Microsoft Office and Adobe products (surprisingly, Internet Explorer is included in our keyless image output).
ShowKey Plus – The tool can also find our campaign keys and OEM keys as well as download software packages from other Windows devices.
Windows 10 Product Key Tool – Developed by EasyBCD developers this app found our genuine UEFI OEM but couldn’t find a promotional license for Windows to Go Drive.
Winkeyfinder – Our retail key was found but Dell’s UEFI key is not displayed.
Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder – It will sends the retail keys but doesn’t generate OEM UEFI keys. The software can also download Windows installation registry keys to another drive (Tools>Load Hive). The Windows 10 Professional installation established as Enterprise.
Find your key from the outside of Windows
If you can’t boot Windows and want to recover the key, you can still access this data from an external environment, such as the Windows To Go drive, or by connecting an unbootable Windows drive to another computer.
When recovering keys from the Windows To Go workspace, keep in mind that the non-bootable disk with the Windows key is disabled by default and must be started in Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc). Right-click the drive and set it to Online. As mentioned earlier, some of the listed third-party tools let you load hive files into the registry from other Windows functions.
While it’s easy to find the Windows key automatically from the UEFI / BIOS, you’ll need to change the Windows installer if you want to use a different license.
Please open your installer in Explorer, then open the Sources folder, and create a new text file with named PID.txt in the Sources folder. In PID.txt you need the following text, where X corresponds to your main script.
You can delete a promotion key on different machines, and if this doesn’t automatically update the information on Microsoft servers, it will prevent future conflicts for multiple machines using the same key.
To remove existing product licenses and remove Windows registry keys, enter the following prompt at the command line (there are a few slmgr commands here).
As a last test, when we remove the button from the Windows installation, we use this copy of Windows by clicking the “Troubleshoot” button on the activation page.
With one click and the wizard gets our digital license, even if it’s not associated with a Microsoft account. It’s also a sales key that was originally used in desktops that were built with a Windows To Go drive and connected to other computers with different hardware profiles. In other words, fortunately, Microsoft’s performance is very forgiving, and you will have no problem verifying your operating system license on a new device or after any hardware changes.