Windows install on a laptop bought at Auction?

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  1. Posts : 73
    Win7
       #1

    Windows install on a laptop bought at Auction?


    A friend of mine bought a Laptop from a university auction. The machine has had the hard drive removed so has no OS. He has a graphics print company and his computers are Apple Mac. however, he just acquire a couple production machines he (needs) to run from windows. (why he asked me) I just did a Win 10 install on a computer I was given using MS Media Creation tool and my MS account. I've never had any licensing problems. However I'd prefer not to have the machine on my MS account. Is there a way to reinstall windows on the machine with a new hard drive without using my account? I assume the machine had a valid OS on the old HD. How do I find that license for the machine? Any other options?
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  2. bobkn's Avatar
    Posts : 4,167
    Win 11 Pro 22000.282
       #2

    Depends on the age of the laptop. Most use SLP. System Locked Pre-installation - Wikipedia

    If it new enough, the license key will be embedded in the BIOS, so it may activate using that.
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  3. Posts : 73
    Win7
    Thread Starter
       #3

    It's a Dell Precision M6800 i7 first released in 2013. I just checked, I think it came with Win 8. Is that too old to have the license in the BIOS?
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  4. Paul Black's Avatar
    Posts : 15,128
    Win 10 Pro 64-bit v1909 - Build 18363 Custom ISO Install
       #4

    Hello @CalypsoArt,

    As it is from 2013, have a look on the BOTTOM of the Laptop or in the Battery department for a Product Key, just in case it was originally shipped with Win 7 for example. I am NOT sure about Win 8 as I never had it.

    I just checked for you and it appears that Win 8 also had a Product Key [ 25-Character Code used to Activate your Windows Licence ].
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  5. SIW2's Avatar
    Posts : 2,368
    trying to install win10
       #5

    Win10 might find the Win8 key in the MSDM table in bios. At one point it did, not sure if it still does. If not you can find it yourself and enter it in win10.

    one way is with rweverything. RWEverything – Read & Write Everything

    Click ACPI table, then click the MSDM tab. I dont have a win8 machine to hand, so here is a pic taken by Phillip Yip. The key is at the bottom where it says Data


    Windows install on a laptop bought at Auction?-rweverything-msdm.jpg
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  6. Posts : 73
    Win7
    Thread Starter
       #6

    Paul Black said:
    Hello @CalypsoArt,

    As it is from 2013, have a look on the BOTTOM of the Laptop or in the Battery department for a Product Key, just in case it was originally shipped with Win 7 for example. I am NOT sure about Win 8 as I never had it.

    I just checked for you and it appears that Win 8 also had a Product Key [ 25-Character Code used to Activate your Windows Licence ].
    Thanks for the info. I also never had Win 8. I assume the key would work for Win 10. I imagine the university IT would have upgraded.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks all for the responses.
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  7. RickC's Avatar
    Posts : 872
    Windows 10 Pro (+ Windows 10 Home VMs for testing)
       #7

    I bought 3 identical Dell Latitude laptops from a Police/Airport 'lost and found' auction. All had their drives removed. All had Windows 8 Pro stickers on the underside:

    Windows install on a laptop bought at Auction?-windows8_sticker.png

    I used the MS Media Creation tool to install Windows 10 Pro offline (i.e. not connected to the internet) so I could use a local account, not a Microsoft Account.

    All picked up the Windows 8 key stored in the BIOS/UEFI and activated Windows 10 automatically the first time they connected to the internet.

    Example from Dell BIOS/UEFI of Windows 8 Pro product key embedded in BIOS/UEFI (Many thanks @SIW2 for the very useful link.)
    Windows install on a laptop bought at Auction?-rw_everthing_win8.png

    Hope this helps...
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  8. SIW2's Avatar
    Posts : 2,368
    trying to install win10
       #8

    There should be a sticker with the key if it came with win7 ( often under the battery ). There is no sticker with the key if the machine came with win8.

    As mentioned in my previous post, theoretically win10 should find the win8 msdm info automatically.

    I have seen people report that it doesnt always.
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  9. bobkn's Avatar
    Posts : 4,167
    Win 11 Pro 22000.282
       #9

    I don't have a lot of experience with laptops, but I vaguely ones that I have seen have a sticker that isn't the actual license key.

    That is also true of some appliance PCs (Dell, HP, etc.) that I have seen.

    I believe that it has more to do with bulk licensing than security, although obviously they don't want people walking into retailers and copying license keys from display models.
      My Computers

  10. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 21,982
    10 Home x64 (21H2) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #10

    Up to and including Windows 7 all PCs with Windows pre-installed by the OEM had a CoA sticker with a key on it. This was NOT the key used in the installed system image of Windows 7 (or in the recovery partition image or recovery media). That was a generic OEM key that self-activated from the SLP table in the bios. The CoA was a 'spare' key in case you lost the OEM recovery media and needed to reintall using the MS install media.

    Starting with Windows 8 all OEM pre-installed PCs had their key embedded in the firmware. W10 Setup should find this key and use it to choose the edition to install and activate windows. Sometimes it fails to find the key. If so, and as long as you have installed the edition corresponding to the embedded key, then the installed key can be changed later to activate Windows. The embedded key can be read with ShowKeyPlus
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