Where is the sticker containing the Product Key for my Windows 8 machine?

Description: This article will detail why new computers that come with an OEM licensed copy of Windows 8 preinstalled do not include a Product Key sticker.

  1. Windows 8 is a bit different from previous versions of Windows in that if a computer comes with Windows 8 pre-installed, there will not be a Certificate of Authenticity that contains the product key on the machine. If Windows 8 needs to be reinstalled on the computer, the Windows Setup utility uses a temporary non-activating Product Key embedded on the recovery media to complete the installation process. During the activation process Windows will automatically look in the computer's BIOS to obtain the embedded Product Key for use in the activation process.

  2. If the computer also includes downgrade rights to Windows 7, it will not have a sticker containing a Product Key for Windows 7 either. The downgrade uses information that is embedded in the BIOS and matches it with information embedded in the Windows downgrade installation media.
  3. The OEM activation key is embedded in the computer's BIOS. Replacing the motherboard or flashing the BIOS, either to a different version or even a variation of the same version, can result in a loss of the Windows license. If this occurs, Windows Activation will not have a valid Product Key available and it will not be able to complete the activation. If the system is activated prior to the changes, Windows will revert to a non-activated state. In order to reinstall Windows 8 after such changes have been made, a new license with its own Product Key will need to be purchased.

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