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  1.    01 Dec 2015 #1
    Join Date : Aug 2015
    Aurora, Colorado
    Posts : 493
    Windows 10 Pro

    Why does use of a COA product key always require phone activation?


    I am not having an issue with COA pk activations. Just curious. What is it about COA pks that requires phone activation instead of automatic activation over the web?
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  2.    01 Dec 2015 #2
    Join Date : Sep 2014
    New Zealand
    Posts : 42
    Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview 64-bit

    I don't think it does. Where did you hear that it requires phone activation?
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  3.    01 Dec 2015 #3
    Join Date : Aug 2015
    Aurora, Colorado
    Posts : 493
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by Mc Ruff View Post
    I don't think it does. Where did you hear that it requires phone activation?
    It does. I have read that elsewhere and when I used two COA keys on their respective computers this week sure enough the activation wizard responded that "this product key requires activation by phone." COA keys won't activate automatically over the web.

    When the key is parsed it tells the activation agent the channel through which the key was issued so maybe some verification of the OEM hardware is needed? Or maybe the info on the hardware OEM source needed to match the channel is in the installation ID that you read off to the automated agent (those nine fields of six).

    I have tested COA keys to see if they would activate on a DIY computer and that is refused at time of activation attempt with no prompt to use phone activation. Just "invalid on this computer."

    As I said, just curious as to what the mechanism might be and why it can't be done automatically.
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  4.    02 Dec 2015 #4

    I, personally have never had the need to use COA keys, but came across this old article.
    Microsoft Closes Activation Loophole

    Makes sense... as any janitor in a large corporation could run around grabbing 1000's of COA keys from desktops and selling them - the phone activation proviso is probably meant as a red flag should you purchase a key that will not activate online.
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  5.    02 Dec 2015 #5
    Join Date : Aug 2015
    Aurora, Colorado
    Posts : 493
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by Superfly View Post
    I, personally have never had the need to use COA keys, but came across this old article.
    Microsoft Closes Activation Loophole

    Makes sense... as any janitor in a large corporation could run around grabbing 1000's of COA keys from desktops and selling them - the phone activation proviso is probably meant as a red flag should you purchase a key that will not activate online.
    Yeah, COA labels used to be out in the open on the machine and therefore simple to read. But COA keys do seem to be machine specific. How specific I don't know but I'll bet the activation wizard passes the OEM marker in the BIOS (or data in the uefi firmware) along as part of the installation ID that appears in the phone activation page. Why this can't be handled by automated online activation I don't know. Thanks for the link. It is consistent with my anectdotal findings. Microsoft has probably never revealed exactly what info is passed along to the servers in the Installation ID that makes verification at their end work. It certainly doesn't take long. As soon as you finish reading out the Installation ID the automated agent says "One moment while I look that up" and then another automated voice says "verified" right away. The the auto-agent then proceeds to give the activation codes and then invites you to copy it down for future reactivations.
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  6.    02 Dec 2015 #6
    Join Date : Dec 2013
    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 10,609
    Windows 10 IoT

    The factory OEM-SLP keys don't activate online. The PC activates against the SLIC table in the BIOS. That key is a manufacturer specific key used by any PC running that specific version of Windows by that manufacturer. Every Dell that ships from the factory with Windows Home Premium will the same Dell HP Key on it. That key is blocked from online activation and only works with the factory OEM-SLP setup. You need modified custom OEM install media to use it. If you use stock install media you need to use the key on the COA. Most of those keys will never ever be used. My theory is those keys are not recorded on the activation server by default. Not until you phone activate at least once. That's when they are verified to have been issued by that manufacturer and that your using it on the correct make and model PC. Then they are activated and registered. I think its just and extra check to make sure you don't just write them down and use them on another PC. You likely already know most of what I just posted but I included it for anybody else reading the thread that may not.
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  7.    02 Dec 2015 #7
    Join Date : Aug 2015
    Aurora, Colorado
    Posts : 493
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    The factory OEM-SLP keys don't activate online. The PC activates against the SLIC table in the BIOS. That key is a manufacturer specific key used by any PC running that specific version of Windows by that manufacturer. Every Dell that ships from the factory with Windows Home Premium will the same Dell HP Key on it. That key is blocked from online activation and only works with the factory OEM-SLP setup. You need modified custom OEM install media to use it. If you use stock install media you need to use the key on the COA. Most of those keys will never ever be used. My theory is those keys are not recorded on the activation server by default. Not until you phone activate at least once. That's when they are verified to have been issued by that manufacturer and that your using it on the correct make and model PC. Then they are activated and registered. I think its just and extra check to make sure you don't just write them down and use them on another PC. You likely already know most of what I just posted but I included it for anybody else reading the thread that may not.
    Yeah, I know the OEM SLP key stuff. I don't think anybody who knows the answer to the question is going to say. It's one of those anti-piracy things that is closely kept by Microsoft.

    What is in the Installation ID that tells Microsoft info that requires parsing that can't be transmitted and verified online? Microsoft gets plenty of telemetry.

    I have never had to talk to a live agent to get a COA key activated. So what does an automated phone call do that automated online activation doesn't? The bot never asks anything, not even "how many computers are you using it on?" If it is that pro forma, why require the phone call?

    A minor matter in the scheme of the universe, but you know how it is with little, nagging questions.
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  8.    02 Dec 2015 #8
    Join Date : Dec 2013
    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 10,609
    Windows 10 IoT

    Exactly, they aren't saying and for good reason. I'm also thinking the OEM's don't track what sticker goes on what PC, just what stickers have been issued. And that's one of the checks and balances done when you phone activate. There must be a reason or reasons why you have to. We can keep guessing but I doubt somebody from Microsoft is going post back here that we guessed right.
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  9.    02 Dec 2015 #9
    Join Date : Aug 2015
    Aurora, Colorado
    Posts : 493
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    Exactly, they aren't saying and for good reason. I'm also thinking the OEM's don't track what sticker goes on what PC, just what stickers have been issued. And that's one of the checks and balances done when you phone activate. There must be a reason or reasons why you have to. We can keep guessing but I doubt somebody from Microsoft is going post back here that we guessed right.
    The channel ID is in the PK. The COA keys are allocated in blocks. The Installation ID must contain hardware info, so maybe the COA key needs only to be consistent. But why can't all that be parsed online? Surely the Installation ID is passed to Microsoft with all online activations. Maybe Microsoft has better things to do than update an old procedure, which, as Superfly points out (its in his link), is now eleven years old.

    Note for those (if any) following along, the Installation ID is the 54-digit string in nine fields that is displayed on the phone activation page. It is what the user reads off to the activation agent, who then verifies something about it and responds with the activation string, which the user then types in.

    If you have copied the activation string from a previous activation, the user can be type it in without calling Microsoft if a reactivation is needed in the future, so copy this string before clicking Done.
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  10.    02 Dec 2015 #10
    Join Date : Dec 2013
    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 10,609
    Windows 10 IoT

    It's all changed now with embedded keys anyway. There is no key on the COA sticker. How often will you be doing a phone activation with an OEM PC that shipped with Windows 8 or 10? Desktop PC I guess if you swapped enough hardware to trigger it.
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