How to find and read Windows product key?

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The Windows product key is a 25-character special code used to activate the operating system installed on your computer. This is an indispensable element confirming the legality of the installed software, as well as a tool for Microsoft to verify that the user does not use the license in a way that violates its rules (eg attempting to install multiple copies of Windows with a license for only one system). The Windows product key is necessary in order to be able to reinstall the system, install it on a new or upgraded computer, or re-install the system after a computer breakdown. In our guide, we will show how to find and how to read the product key from a working Windows system.

In the case of computers and laptops sold with preinstalled Windows, the product key for the operating system installed on such equipment should be visible on a special sticker placed on the computer casing (eg on the side wall of the desktop computer or the bottom of the laptop). If the system was bought in a box version, the key should be on a special card delivered in a box with the installation carrier. However, in the case of a license purchased online, the buyer receives the product key in an e-mail sent to him as a confirmation of purchase of a license for the operating system.

Unfortunately, life is full of surprises: stickers with a key with time may get blurred, a box with a card and a key may go missing etc. In a situation where we have a legal operating system installed, and we do not have a product key to it, there are a large number of users, who are forced to, for example, reinstall the system after upgrading components or replacing a hard disk / SSD, want to activate Windows.

The solution to the problem is thankfully simple. All you need to do is use the right software. We propose the Windows Product Key Viewer (Click to download) program developed by RJL Software.

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Using the application is very easy. Its installation consists in unpacking the downloaded archive file and running the EXE file.

The program after running displays only one window, such as in the above illustration. The information most interesting to us, the product key for the Windows system on which the program was launched, is displayed in the Windows Product Key field. This information should be rewritten and stored in a safe place. In addition, the program displays information about the currently logged in user , installation date , data of the person or company name, for which the system is registered, system operation time from the last run (Windows Uptime), the exact date and time of the last boot , the product ID, the exact build number of the installed system and the unique Machine GUID generated during the installation of the system.

When will the product key be needed? It is necessary every time you need to activate Windows. The obvious scenario is to reinstall the system, but the operating system will prompt you to reactivate again if the computer is significantly upgraded. For example, after replacing the hard disk and memory, or replacing the motherboard. Why does replacing components require re-activation? This is due to the activation mechanism developed by Microsoft, the aim of which is to link software licenses to a specific computer (which gives the manufacturer confidence that a given license and product key are not illegally used on many computers). How is it implemented? Well, in the activation process, the product key is just one of many necessary information. The unique computer identifier created, among others, is connected to a given product key. from unique identifiers of individual devices. It is logical, therefore, that the replacement of these devices also causes that the machine identifier also changes, which in turn results in the deactivation of the Windows system and the necessity of its re-activation.

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Finally, one more important remark. In many websites and other publications regarding the activation of Windows, you can find information that only the first activation of a specific copy of Windows can be carried out via the Internet, and each subsequent (required eg after reinstallation) must already be done in the telephone activation mode. This is not entirely true. Assuming that we are talking here only about individual licenses (the way we activate volume licenses is a separate topic at all, which we will not deal with here, it proceeds differently, in a more automated way – after all, it’s difficult for an administrator in a company with 100 computers to have each computer can be individually activated), multiple Internet activation is possible, but only in the case when the appropriate time has elapsed since the last activation. Microsoft – understandably – does not specify what time is going on. The person who is trying to reinstall the system, eg after a month since the last installation and activation of the system, certainly has to count on the fact that activation via the Internet will fail. However, if we reinstall the legal system, for example, after two or three years since the last installation, then the Internet activation will succeed both when the system is installed on the same computer after its modernization or on completely new equipment (of course with assumption of resignation from using a given Windows license on the previous hardware – this scenario does not apply to OEM licenses, which are closely related to the hardware and can not be transferred to other computers).

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