Windows 10 product keys and activation - and the KMS angle

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  1. alphanumeric's Avatar
    Posts : 14,224
    Windows 10 IoT
       #11

    Small corporations will often buy OEM devices. Then reinstall the corporate OS on them wiping out the factory install. They are not allowed to resell those KMS activated licenses. They are supposed to either reinstall the OEM OS of wipe the drive so its blank. That doesn't always happen though, especially if they went bankrupt, or fired all the IT staff etc.
    That being said, the KMS activation will eventually time out and fail. It's supposed to work that way as a fail safe. At which point you should reinstall the factory OS or install and activate (if its Windows) what OS you want to run.
    Windows 8 and later will have an embedded key in the BIOS. Windows 7 and earlier have a SLIC table in the BIOS. The SLIC table doesn't have any product codes in it, and will only work with custom OEM install media. Windows 10 install media will look for and use Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 embedded product codes and automatically install and activate the matching qualifying edition. SLIC tables are ignored as there is no product code in them.
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  2. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,711
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #12

    alphanumeric said:
    Windows 7 and earlier have a SLIC table in the BIOS. The SLIC table doesn't have any product codes in it, and will only work with custom OEM install media....
    The OEM install media contains not only Win7, but also a generic OEM product key and an OEMCERT certificate. These, together with the SLIC table allow the installed W7 to self activate without the need to connect to the internet. This is how a factory reset of an OEM W7 machine would activate.

    Apparently there's a 3rd-party tool to use the SLIC table to provide OEM activation of a 'plain vanilla' Win7 install on a machine with an SLIC table. Search Seven Forums for more details.
    Last edited by Bree; 30 Apr 2021 at 15:22.
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  3. Posts : 79
    Windows 7, Windows 10, Linux Mint
    Thread Starter
       #13

    alphanumeric said:
    Small corporations will often buy OEM devices. Then reinstall the corporate OS on them wiping out the factory install. They are not allowed to resell those KMS activated licenses. They are supposed to either reinstall the OEM OS of wipe the drive so its blank. That doesn't always happen though, especially if they went bankrupt, or fired all the IT staff etc.
    That being said, the KMS activation will eventually time out and fail. It's supposed to work that way as a fail safe. At which point you should reinstall the factory OS or install and activate (if its Windows) what OS you want to run.
    Windows 8 and later will have an embedded key in the BIOS........[edit] ......Windows 10 install media will look for and use Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 embedded product codes and automatically install and activate the matching qualifying edition......
    I raised the same queries in the Seven Forum where I have long been a member and (thanks, Bree...) have had some useful advice over there. I also posted here as I realised I was making a transition, and maybe the Win10 experts would be able to assist.

    I think the quote above describes almost exactly the situation with my (second hand, formerly corporate) ThinkPad.

    It now emerges that my ThinkPad originally had Win 8 Pro (RTM...?) as OEM; probably had that replaced by a corporate OS image and/or Win 10 Pro.... hence the KMS activation problem; and according to Bree, I could now do a clean install of Win10 which would find and be activated by the embedded Win 8 key.

    If that's so, then I have a clear route to follow. Just need a step-by-step set of instructions for that clean install. Is there a tutorial, and/or any pitfalls to be aware of?
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  4. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,711
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #14

    br1anstorm said:
    I raised the same queries in the Seven Forum where I have long been a member and (thanks, Bree...) have had some useful advice over there. I also posted here as I realised I was making a transition, and maybe the Win10 experts would be able to assist....
    As you have found, a lot of us are members on both.....
    If that's so, then I have a clear route to follow. Just need a step-by-step set of instructions for that clean install. Is there a tutorial, and/or any pitfalls to be aware of?

    Here you go.....

    Clean Install Windows 10

    Over on SF you asked for clarification of what exactly your "Win 8 RTM Professional OEM: DM" embedded key means.

    'RTM' just stands for Released To Manufacturing - ie. it's the build MS provided to the OEMs for them to customise and install on their machines. As for the rest, Superfly explains it in his ShowKeyPlus thread:
    Key types:
    OEM: DM = PC specific keys found embedded in the Microsoft Data Management (MSDM) table of the firmware of Windows 8 and Windows 10 factory installed PC's.
    Last edited by Bree; 30 Apr 2021 at 16:43.
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  5. alphanumeric's Avatar
    Posts : 14,224
    Windows 10 IoT
       #15

    Bree said:
    The OEM install media contains not only Win7, but also a generic OEM product key and an OEMCERT certificate. These, together with the SLIC table allow the installed W7 to self activate without the need to connect to the internet. This is how a factory reset of an OEM W7 machine would activate.

    Apparently there's a 3rd-party tool to use the SLIC table to provide OEM activation of a 'plain vanilla' Win7 install on a machine with an SLIC table. Search Seven Forums for more details.
    Yeah, you can re flash the BIOS and add that info. It's not legal but it was done. The Generic OEM Product code is useless without the certificate. As you mentioned they don't activate online. All those OEM Generic keys are blocked from online activation.

    You can't flash a product code into a Windows 8 or 10 OEM PC though. The Product code isn't in the section of BIOS that's updated when flashed to a new one. And its not a generic code. Each PC OEM or not gets a unique code. All good changes in my eyes.
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  6. alphanumeric's Avatar
    Posts : 14,224
    Windows 10 IoT
       #16

    My ASUS Laptop that I bought years ago has an embedded key for Windows 8 (Core). What I got on a clean install of Windows 10 was Windows 10 Home. It activated just fine and got a Digital License for Windows 10 Home. The sticker just Said Microsoft Windows 8, no product code was listed anywhere on the PC.
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  7. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,711
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #17

    alphanumeric said:
    Yeah, you can re flash the BIOS and add that info. It's not legal but it was done. The Generic OEM Product code is useless without the certificate. As you mentioned they don't activate online. All those OEM Generic keys are blocked from online activation.
    No I wasn't suggesting anything that illegal or dangerous. There's an app that will install the correct OEM key and certificate to match the existing SLIC table. After that it activates as if you had installed W7 using the OEM's own install media. Windows 7 machines from Acer, Packard Bell, eMachines, Advent, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Gigabyte, HP, Compaq, Lenovo, IBM, Medion, MSI, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba are supported.
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  8. alphanumeric's Avatar
    Posts : 14,224
    Windows 10 IoT
       #18

    Bree said:
    No I wasn't suggesting anything that illegal or dangerous. There's an app that will install the correct OEM key and certificate to match the existing SLIC table. After that it activates as if you had installed W7 using the OEM's own install media. Windows 7 machines from Acer, Packard Bell, eMachines, Advent, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Gigabyte, HP, Compaq, Lenovo, IBM, Medion, MSI, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba are supported.
    Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that you were. I could have picked my words better.
    This is one of those tricky to talk about subjects, that can get you into trouble with the mods.
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  9. Posts : 79
    Windows 7, Windows 10, Linux Mint
    Thread Starter
       #19

    Bree said:
    As you have found, a lot of us are members on both.....

    Here you go.....

    Clean Install Windows 10

    Over on SF you asked for clarification of what exactly your "Win 8 RTM Professional OEM: DM" embedded key means.

    'RTM' just stands for Released To Manufacturing - ie. it's the build MS provided to the OEMs for them to customise and install on their machines. As for the rest, Superfly explains it in his ShowKeyPlus thread:
    Key types:
    OEM: DM = PC specific keys found embedded in the Microsoft Data Management (MSDM) table of the firmware of Windows 8 and Windows 10 factory installed PC's.
    Thanks, Bree. The most recent posts with alphanumeric in this thread seem to have focused on what to do with Win7 and SLIC tables (which I don't think apply to my situation). I'm taking the thread-discussion back towards trying to figure out exactly what I need to do to get a clean Win10 installed and activated on my ThinkPad X240, which at present has a KMS-activated corporate version of Win10 Pro.

    I've read the useful guide/tutorial linked above. It's pretty comprehensive, but I will need to re-read it several times - I have never before done a clean install of a Windows OS (though I have installed Linux on several computers). I have a few basic questions at this stage:

    - the tutorial suggests deleting all partitions before doing a clean install so the whole disk is unallocated space, which obviously means removing the existing KMS installation of Windows 10, rather than "overwriting" it. Fair enough. I assume there is nothing I need to save or make a note of before wiping the drive?

    - I worry about "losing" the original Win8 OEM embedded key even though it is apparently embedded in the firmware. The guidance and other posts seem to suggest that a clean install will automatically "find" that key. What if it doesn't!

    - I have thus far only ever dealt with legacy BIOS/MBR systems, and am unfamiliar with UEFI. Is there any compelling reason to move to UEFI when doing a clean install of Win 10? My strong preference would be to stay with legacy BIOS/MBR.

    I'm trying to think ahead and avoid problems, rather than press ahead and then discover I've missed or overlooked something crucial.
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  10. alphanumeric's Avatar
    Posts : 14,224
    Windows 10 IoT
       #20

    I've done numerous clean installs on my laptop and my embedded key is still intact. On a side note, current Windows 10 install media ignores it. It wasn't always this way but eventually mine stopped getting read. It's till there, showkey finds it. If I go back to a very early build its read as expected.
    ShowKeyPlus
    If the PC was never activated with the embedded key, and it wasn't detected, you'd just manually enter it. I wouldn't worry about it not being detected, as far as I know I'm one of a very select few in this situation. Even so, as my PC did activate with it in the past, all I have to do is select 10 Home, and I don't have a key, and it activates just fine with the digital certificate it has stored on the Microsoft Activation server.
    I keep my user folders like Documents, Pictures etc, on a separate Data drive or Partition. I can do a custom install and delete all but the Data partition, and install into the unallocated space, and not lose them.
    Deleting all the partitions ensures that the correct partitions are recreated in the right place and are the right size. I do UEFI on my laptop, as it supports it. My desktop PC doesn't so its MBR for it. I see no noticeable difference.
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