Windows 10 product keys and activation - and the KMS angle

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  1. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,701
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #21

    br1anstorm said:
    ....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!
    alphanumeric said:
    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....
    The W8 key is safely embedded in the firmware.

    Alphanumeric's experience is probably more to do with that particular PC rather than a general point.

    As a test I've just booted my Dell with its W8 key in the firmware using the latest 20H2 install USB, as created by the MCT. It successfully found the embedded key, skipping steps 9/10 in the tutorial and went straight to step 11 'Check the I accept the license terms box'.

    Make a note of the embedded W8 key just in case, but you probably won't need to enter it
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  2. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 15,659
    Windows 10 Pro
       #22

    br1anstorm said:
    - 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.
    Why not just run Showkey Plus from this forum and retrieve any product key that is stored in BIOS?

    ShowKeyPlus
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  3. Posts : 79
    Windows 7, Windows 10, Linux Mint
    Thread Starter
       #23

    clean install of W10 - embedded key, and Legacy MBR/BIOS v UEFI choice


    Bree said:
    The W8 key is safely embedded in the firmware.....

    As a test I've just booted my Dell with its W8 key in the firmware using the latest 20H2 install USB, as created by the MCT. It successfully found the embedded key, skipping steps 9/10 in the tutorial and went straight to step 11 'Check the I accept the license terms box'.

    Make a note of the embedded W8 key just in case, but you probably won't need to enter it
    NavyLCDR said:
    Why not just run Showkey Plus from this forum and retrieve any product key that is stored in BIOS?
    Thanks to both for that - I've made sure I have a note, from Showkey Plus, of that embedded Win8 key.

    On a separate aspect of the clean install operation, does anyone have any views (one way or the other) on my query about Legacy MBR/BIOS versus UEFI? I don't yet understand UEFI (so I prefer the devil I know!). But my inexpert impression is that UEFI doesn't offer noticeable benefits, while being a little more complicated.
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  4. alphanumeric's Avatar
    Posts : 14,223
    Windows 10 IoT
       #24

    My install thumb drive created with the official Microsoft tool, does both. On my legacy desktop PC it does an MBR install by default, and on my laptop its UEFI. I haven't done a clean install in ages but I don't remember one being any more complicated than the other?
      My Computer

  5. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,701
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #25

    br1anstorm said:
    ...does anyone have any views (one way or the other) on my query about Legacy MBR/BIOS versus UEFI?
    I have both legacy BIOS and UEFI machines. As a general principle I would install as UEFI if the machine is UEFI capable.

    As alphanumeric says, the install usb made by the Media Creation Tool is capable of booting in either mode. If you hit the F12 key when you power up you should get a boot device menu, and the usb should be listed twice - once as a UEFI device and again as a Legacy device. Whichever mode you choose to boot from the usb, that is the mode it will use to install Windows.
      My Computers


  6. Posts : 79
    Windows 7, Windows 10, Linux Mint
    Thread Starter
       #26

    Call me a coward.... but I think I'm going to stick with the Legacy/BIOS option. The ThinkPad X240 on which I want to do a clean install currently has that corporate KMS Win10 installed in Legacy mode. I assume it is capable of UEFI (?).

    But right now I believe UEFI is disabled in the BIOS. When I go looking via Settings>Recovery>Troubleshoot>Advanced, there is no "UEFI Firmware Settings" button or option.

    We've established (via Showkey Plus) that there is an embedded OEM Win8 Key - and i have made a note of it.

    So I have downloaded the Win10 ISO, put it on a USB stick using Rufus , and I think I'm ready to go.

    But as I read through the steps in the "Clean Install" tutorial, I see this quote at step 9:

    "If this is an OEM PC that has a valid product key embedded in its UEFI firmware chip, then you will not be prompted to enter a product key."

    Fine. But note my underlining. Now this might seem a dumb question. But if I am installing in Legacy mode, will the Win10 installer still see that key embedded in the UEFI firmware and still skip the screen which asks about the product key?

    Or if that screen does come up.... do I enter the embedded key details?

    I'm just trying to be ready for any contingency, rather than getting to step 9 and not knowing how to proceed!
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  7. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 15,659
    Windows 10 Pro
       #27

    If the install just keeps going and doesn't ask for anything then it read it from BIOS. If it stops and asks you for a product key, then enter the product key showkey plus gave you.
      My Computer


  8. Posts : 79
    Windows 7, Windows 10, Linux Mint
    Thread Starter
       #28

    Embedded key not recognised


    Well, clean installation failed at the first hurdle.....

    I launched the process, booting from the Win10 installation media on a Rufus USB stick, and hit "Install now".

    Up came the screen asking me to enter a product key. As there is apparently an embedded key, I wasn't expecting this. Nevertheless, I entered the Win8 OEM embedded key details as provided by ShowKey Plus.......

    Didn't work. The key was 'not recognised'. I couldn't proceed, so I quit.

    If the embedded key wasn't recognised at this stage, then presumably if I skip the step and try to activate later, the key won't work for that either....

    So what now?
      My Computer

  9. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 15,659
    Windows 10 Pro
       #29

    Exactly what type of product key did showkey plus say it was? Just click on the product key in showkey plus to blank it out:

    Windows 10 product keys and activation - and the KMS angle-capture.jpg
      My Computer

  10. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 19,701
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #30

    br1anstorm said:
    I launched the process, booting from the Win10 installation media on a Rufus USB stick, and hit "Install now".

    Up came the screen asking me to enter a product key.....
    Why did you use Rufus? It shouldn't be necessary.

    My successful test in post #21 on a machine with an embedded W8 key was booted from latest 20H2 usb install media made using the MCT. Rather than creating the USB directly from the MCT, I had used it to create an ISO then made the USB from that (the end result is identical to a USB made directly by the MCT). I used Option Four here:

    Create Bootable USB Flash Drive to Install Windows 10
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