Windows 10: Cannot view product key on clean install Solved

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  1.    01 Feb 2017 #21

    Change product key lets you switch versions. From Home to Pro or Education or Enterprise. Or Pro to Education or Enterprise, etc. In windows 7 it was called anytime upgrade.
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  2. Posts : 10
    Windows 10 - Insider Build 14986 (Slow Ring) 32bit
       01 Feb 2017 #22

    neverquit said: View Post
    .... but let me ask this, what's the difference between a digital license and a product key?.... Are the interchangeable?. Do I need both of them?
    I hate to repeat myself, but it seems Microsoft has taken something so simple, and made it so complicated.... At least in my eyes, but then I'm not like you guys, but that's why I'm on this forum.....And I sincerely thank everyone for their help!

    Allow me to jump in here real quick --- You said your system is up and running with an "Activated Digital License" - right? Well if that is true then you're good as GOLD! You will not need a product key EVER again. Even if you end up having to replace the hard drive with your OS on it. When you get that HD replaced and you do the clean install of Win 10, Microsoft's systems will identify your CPU through other hardware configurations and it will see that Digital License to automatically activate your newly install OS.

    I know this because I had to do just that with a recently acquired used laptop. The hard drive in that computer completely fail and turned itself into a little dead brick. I happen to have a brand new 120g SSD drive on hand that I was going to use in a different CPU, but I threw it into the dead laptop instead. I then put in my flash drive with the Windows 10 creation tool on it. I booted with the flash drive and let it do a the clean install of Win 10. When all was said and done the OS fired up just fine and everything was good. There wasn't any questions or worries about activation. I went into the setting and my system showed up legit with that Digital License right there.

    So you see Microsoft really has taken something simple and actually made it SIMPLER! If I were you, I'd send that CD back to Amazon, get your money back cause you won't need it.

    - Royboy
    Last edited by RoyBoyDenver; 01 Feb 2017 at 22:27.
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  3.    02 Feb 2017 #23

    Product keys have been around since forever, every version of Windows has and does use them. Digital entitlements/Digital Licenses are new with Windows 10. Entitlements were given with the free upgrade instead of handing out a new individual keys to every PC. Everybody that upgraded to Home got the same generic Home key, and everybody that upgraded to Pro got the same generic Pro key.

    When the free upgrade offer first appeared you had to upgrade to get the Digital Entitlement. There was no clean installing with a Windows 7 or 8 key. And if you installed and activated with a Windows 10 product key, activation showed activated with a Product Code. My Windows 10 Education activated that way. On a reinstall, if I did a skip key, it would not activate. I had to enter a key to activate.

    Latter on they allowed clean installing and activating for the first time with Windows 7 and 8 keys. You got a Digital Entitlement if you installed with a Windows 7 or 8 key. If it was a Windows 10 key, you showed activated with a product key. This is on a PC that does not already have a Digital Entitlement for the version of Windows your installing.

    With the release of the Anniversary Update things changed again. It became a Digital License and pretty well every PC got one. My Education installs switched from "Activated with a Product Code" to "Activated with a Digital License" when I upgraded them. Prior to that I had to enter a key to activate, now I don't. They all got an identical generic Education Key different from the original keys used to install and activate them. Originally I thought this was a glitch and it should not have happened. Apparently though, it was by design. And even factory OEM installs are getting Digital Licenses.

    As far as keys go now, the current Windows 10 install media looks for them and will use them if detected or entered manually. You can if you want, enter the same key you originally used to activate Windows 10 and it will be accepted. The PC will still activate with the Digital License it has stored on the activation server. Or, you can skip entering it, select the correct version from the menu and install that way. It will activate with the Digital License it has stored on the activation server.

    Or enter a different key and install another version of Windows 10 like the Education version. If the key is a legal valid key, Windows will activate with a Digital License. Keep in mind though, if your PC has an OEM embedded key that overrides everything. If your install media detects it it will install the matching version of Windows 10. You won't get prompted for a key or get a choice of Home or Pro. You can go a change product key after the install is done though to bump up to Pro for example. I had to do that at one point. I add a PID.txt file to my install media to override the auto detection and install Pro from the get go. It just simplifies things and speeds up the install for me.
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  4.    02 Feb 2017 #24

    Thank you, RobRoy and Alpha, I appreciate that insight...It's interesting, and knowing WHY certainly helps with the understanding, and to me it's almost an abstract concept....I just wanted something simple. Anyway, the "replacement" CD came today, and I took a picture of the product key with the sticker over the code. Interestingly, on the back of the CD jacket it states "You may have to enter the product key."......But of course that's blocked....
    Thanks again for your help, and your patience with dealing with a newbie....Hmmm...Sorry, it copied it upside down...So I deleted it and made the picture on my computer upside down, but it still put it upside down.....Yep, I'm a newbie.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by neverquit; 02 Feb 2017 at 14:35. Reason: Tried to flip picture
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  5.    02 Feb 2017 #25

    Ok, that's interesting, first time I've seen one like that. It even says "This is not a COA" on it. The last OEM (system builders) copy I bought was for Windows 7. The one I got you pealed off and stuck on the PC. The Code was readable before you pealed it off and after to stuck it to the PC. It was an actual COA sticker.
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  6.    02 Feb 2017 #26

    Yep, that's exactly how my OEM 7 CD could see the product key, entered it when you were prompted and that was that...Now it's rocket science, or rather there's a few hurdles to jump over....Oh, well......
    Thanks again.
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  7.    02 Feb 2017 #27

    This is interesting:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    In order to expose the product key you scratch off the grey/silver "Microsoft" square. That part of the label can also be removed and attached to the computer the software is installed on. The rest of the sticker is truly not the COA sticker - the part with the product key printed under the grey scratch off part is. @neverquit, did you try to scratch off the Microsoft square on your previous DVD?

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  8.    02 Feb 2017 #28

    WOW!....That's crazy....your picture doesn't show a sticker over the product code.....Do you think it's because I bought it thru Amazon and not directly from MS?
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  9.    02 Feb 2017 #29

    neverquit said: View Post
    WOW!....That's crazy....your picture doesn't show a sticker over the product code.....Do you think it's because I bought it thru Amazon and not directly from MS?
    I just edited my previous post. Did you try to scratch off the grey/silver Microsoft box? It's like a lottery ticket. Scratch that off to uncover the product key. You should also be able to remove just that portion of the label and it will have adhesive under it to stick it to the computer.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  10.   My ComputerSystem Spec

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