How to run W10 ISO with built in activation key


  1. Posts : 38
    WinDoze 10 Home
       #1

    How to run W10 ISO with built in activation key


    Hi I received a Windows 10 ISO file from our IT Dept at my work and was told that it has a built in key (volume licensing version). His exact words were "you can put this on a USB stick and use this to install (the key is built in)"

    So I made a bootable W10 USB installer on a Mac using Boot Camp Assistant, set the USB as first boot device with no other drives connected and started the PC. It straight away did an install successfully but when I checked after it was finished it had not been activated which did not really surprise me I must admit. There was no mention of volume licensing but I noticed on one link in researching all this, that you could do a clean install from within Windows by running the install.exe that is contained in the folder structure on the USB stick. and that right at the start of this it mentions volume licensing so I thought that I was possibly on the right track. Sorry if my explanation of all this is rather amateurish but hey I have a limited skill set with all this :)

    Went through the install but after it was done, same thing it was not activated. I realise that I can contact our IT dept after I get back to work from holidays but I would really like to try and sort this out myself with some help here if I can. Any ideas please and thanks in advance for any suggestions other than "talk to your IT Dept"
    Last edited by Pedro147; 25 Nov 2018 at 00:10.
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  2. CountMike's Avatar
    Posts : 18,329
    W10+Developer Insider + Linux
       #2

    If I understood it right, yes you can reinstall windows by running setup.exe from a mounted ISO or from installation USB. That goes by few names like "Repair install" or "In place upgrade". I'm not sure that it will fix the issue with activation though, it needs to connect to activation server to finish activation but OS will be almost fully functional for a while excluding some customizing options.
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  3. Posts : 38
    WinDoze 10 Home
    Thread Starter
       #3

    Thanks CountMike so it sounds like our IT guy used a bit of a misnomer calling it a "built in key"

    Unless anyone else has any ideas I suppose that I will have to contact our IT guy. It just confuses me as to why he said that. When you say activation server what does that actually mean please and how might I do that? Thanks for the reply.
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  4. CountMike's Avatar
    Posts : 18,329
    W10+Developer Insider + Linux
       #4

    Pedro147 said:
    Thanks CountMike so it sounds like our IT guy used a bit of a misnomer calling it a "built in key"

    Unless anyone else has any ideas I suppose that I will have to contact our IT guy. It just confuses me as to why he said that. When you say activation server what does that actually mean please and how might I do that? Thanks for the reply.
    MS has own servers on which it keeps motherboard data for that particular MB and references it with key supplied with Retail W10 version as well as OEM installed W10 also based on MB.
    Volume licensing works somewhat different way and particular company may use some other form like KMS license servers: Product Activation/Keys | Microsoft Volume Licensing

    Understanding Windows KMS and MAK volume license activation
    Some of those can be and are misused for illicit licensing (hacking) and if anybody's caught can loose whole system or worse, so I guess you should contact who ever provided your license for proper approach. Just use it as it is until that time, you are not loosing much. Once it's properly activated/licensed, you will be able to reinstall windows on same machine without any more bother.
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  5. Superfly's Avatar
    Posts : 3,325
       #5

    That's a good explanation by @CountMike

    Basically the IT dept could be referring to either. The KMS client keys are the defaults built-in to VL installation media.

    In order to build-in a MAK key they would have placed a file called PID.txt in the Sources folder of the installation media, which contains the key.

    The former will find a KMS server automatically when connected to the company''s LAN (as KMS servers are setup on a certain port that Windows checks when a KMS client key is installed)

    The latter requires to be connected to the internet to activate with MS servers.
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  6. Posts : 38
    WinDoze 10 Home
    Thread Starter
       #6

    Thanks again @CountMike and for your additional explanation @Superfly
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