Question Can't find licence key

Sep 5, 2020
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Hi thanks for looking.

I purchased windows online a few years ago and lost the key! I want to sell the machine with windows, as it's oem I can't use it on another machine anyway. I tried Microsoft but can't find it and I've looked on my ms account that windows is linked to and can't find it on there either?

Any ideas where I can find it please.
 
If you’re going to sell it just reformat it you don’t need a key to use windows 10 and that’s not your problem because you’re selling it if your customer wants to enable it they’ll have to buy their own license which is the way it should be
 

Colif

Win 10 Master
Moderator
what is showing in settings/update & security/activation?
what shows next to the line: Activation? if its linked to your MS account, you don't need to know it.

If your key is linked to the motherboard still, all the new user would need to do to reactivate windows is reinstall it, and when they got to screen asking for a key, click "I don't have one" and pc would reactivate based on the pc already having windows on it before.

having key only means something if you were selling PC with windows on it. If you were and its linked to MSA, you would need to remove device from your account and that will link the licence back to the PC.
 
Reactions: Quanticriver
Sep 5, 2020
54
4
35
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Thanks for the replies. I formatted the drive and reinstalled windows and during setup I added my Microsoft account to activate. Then I set up a new user account (without ms credentials) and removed my ms account from the system. Activation status is activated with activation id showing. I wasn't sure that if the new user ever needs to reinstall windows how he would activate it. I will look again at my Microsoft account and try to remove the device.

I thought oem was licenced to the machine itself and not the user and I could sell the machine along with windows?

Thanks again.
 

Colif

Win 10 Master
Moderator
That might work. depends on when the activation servers next check your PC. Since you removed your MSA from install it might deactivate the install. If you remove it from account it might not.

I don't like my use of might in that last paragraph, too many unknowns :)

worse case scenario, just reinstall win 10 again once its no longer on your account and when you get to key, click "I don't have a key" and win 10 should reactivate it based on it being on motherboard now.

Was win 10 an upgrade from a previous version of windows? That is about only time the oem chain got broken as I think all upgraded PC let the owner supply an email address which was used to register upgrade. Otherwise, yes, activation of OEM is owned by them and shouldn't be linked to your MSA.
 
Sep 5, 2020
54
4
35
0
That might work. depends on when the activation servers next check your PC. Since you removed your MSA from install it might deactivate the install. If you remove it from account it might not.

I don't like my use of might in that last paragraph, too many unknowns :)

worse case scenario, just reinstall win 10 again once its no longer on your account and when you get to key, click "I don't have a key" and win 10 should reactivate it based on it being on motherboard now.

Was win 10 an upgrade from a previous version of windows? That is about only time the oem chain got broken as I think all upgraded PC let the owner supply an email address which was used to register upgrade. Otherwise, yes, activation of OEM is owned by them and shouldn't be linked to your MSA.
I've removed the device from my ms account I'll just have to wait and see about the maybe's haha.

I did a clean install.

Thanks again.
 

howtobeironic

Respectable
Jun 16, 2018
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Good thing about OEM keys: they are durable. MSA is just a safety net so you can reactivate if the setup detects a mobo change etc. It will barely matter if you had tied to it, did not even tie to the new install, swap HDD (as long as you format the old one, if that one goes online that'll be trouble.), RAM, GPU etc. I for myself did a reinstall, tied to MSA, nuked and popped another drive in, installed W10, and it activated without even logging into the account. I suspect it just deletes the record from your MSA in that case. Did not check though.
 

Colif

Win 10 Master
Moderator
Windows 10 should always reinstall on the same PC it was on before (provided licence hasn't been moved), a hdd change doesn't even count as a swap really. HDD die so frequently that it would be wrong to charge someone for a new PC just cause the hdd dies. . It is when you start swapping other parts around it gets complicated. Win 10 lets you reinstall it on entirely new hardware, but there would still be restrictions regarding how many times/changes can be made.

I know GPU changes used to be enough to trigger a licence problem. A few computers ago my GPU died and in process of fixing it, we tried 2 other gpu in the build and windows Vista just said nope, need a new licence... so I went and bought WIn 7 instead. Win 10 may be better than that... I don't know as I only had 2 GPU in last PC.
 

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