With the release of Windows Vista Microsoft lowered the print quality of their Windows Code of Authencity (COA) and as a consequence exposed COAs often ended up looking like the following:
The Product Key as a result is completely faded and unreadable.
Just after the launch of Windows 7 OEMs such as Dell acknowledged this and began placing COAs under the battery compartment of laptops to shield them:
OEM System Locked Preinstallation
Windows 7 OEM is usually installed using OEM System Locked Preinstallation. OEM SLP utilises the System License Internal Code (SLIC) embedded in the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) tables of the systems BIOS. Dell (HP, Lenovo and other major vendors) OEM Branded Reinstallation Media (Including all Factory Settings) incorporate a generic 25 Digit System Locked Preinstallation Product (SLP) Key. If the SLIC, SLP, OEM and Windows Edition all match offline BIOS based Product Activation will occur. More details about this are available in my Your Windows Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Key, Downgrade Rights and the Free Upgrade to Windows 10 Guide.
Windows 10 Device
During the Initial Upgrade installation of Windows 10 Edition (with internet connection) your systems hardware profile is stored with a Microsoft Product Activation server and given the green light for Product Activation. With this green light your system becomes a Windows 10 Edition Device.
A Windows 10 Edition Device will automatically reactivate when online when Windows 10 Edition (of any build #) is clean installed. This means you can clean reinstall Windows 10 without your Product Key.
Needless to save if Windows 10 has been installed and activated on your system your system is already a Windows 10 Edition Device and the rest of this guide is not applicable.
Note: I have tested this on the 08/05/2017 with Windows 10 RS2/Build 15063/Version 1703 Installation Media.
This guide assumes that your system has never been upgraded to Windows 10 and that you wish to perform an Initial Clean Install of Windows 10 (which are less problematic and have Superior Performance than Upgrade Installs). We are going to use GatherOSState to mimic the Activation Mechanism of an Initial Upgrade Install but Apply it to A Clean Install.
To perform this Initial Clean Install Windows 7 OEM must be installed and activated using OEM SLP (Clean Installation or Factory Settings). If not see Windows 7 Installation with Notes on UEFI, SecureBoot and OEM SLP.
Go to start and right click computer then select properties:
Check your Windows 7 Edition at the top left and check the Product ID at the Bottom Right. The Product ID should contain OEM-899 when your computer is activated using OEM SLP.
If you do have a Product ID which contains OEM-899 and Windows is Activated follow my guide Downloading Windows 10 RS2 Build 15063/Version 1703 from Microsoft via the Media Creation Tool.
If the Product ID doesn’t contain OEM-899 you may have a Retail License. Instead use Berlarc Advisor to get your Product Key from the Windows Registry. Once you have the 25 Digit Product Key you can use it to Directly Clean Install Windows 10 see Installation of Windows 10 RS2 Build 15063/Version 1703 for a UEFI BIOS. Note if Berlarc Advisor gives the following Windows Product BBBBB-BBBBB-BBBBB-BBBBB-BBBBB you likely have a Volume License or Enterprise License which are not Eligible for a Free Upgrade to Windows 10.
Insert your Windows 10 Bootable USB and open it in Windows Explorer:
Open the sources folder:
When you get to gatherosstate.exe right click it and select copy:
I advise copying it to the Desktop so right click the Desktop and select Paste:
You must be connected to the Internet. Right Click GatherOSState.exe and Select “Run as Administrator”:
Accept the User Account Control Prompt:
Wait a few minutes and you should now have a GenuineTicket.XML file:
Copy this file to your Bootable USB:
This file can be opened in Internet Explorer for interest. While most of it makes little sense the one thing of interest is the date. As stated I last tested this on the 23 Feb 2017 and got a new ticket.
Now you will have to Boot from your Bootable USB and Clean Install Windows 10 see my Installation of Windows 10 RS2 Build 15063/Version 1703 for a UEFI BIOS guide.
During installation select I Don’t Have a Product Key:
Install the Correct Edition of Windows 10 corresponding to the Free Upgrade:
- If your OEM is for Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic orWindows 7 Home Premium install Windows 10 Home.
- If your OEM is for Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate install Windows 10 Pro.
Copy GenuineTicket to the Genuine Ticket Folder
Windows 10 shouldn’t be activated as you have clean installed on a system not yet made a Windows 10 Edition Device and installed without a Product Key. To check this right click the Start Button and select System:
Check the Windows Activation status at the base of the Window:
Open your Bootable USB within Windows Explorer and AeroSnap to the Left. To the right open up your C:\ Drive. Click the Address Bar and copy C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\ClipSVC\GenuineTicket to access this hidden folder:
Once this file is here. Right click the start button and select Shut Down or Sign Out and then Restart:
Right Click the Start Button and Select System:
Provided you are connected to the Internet Windows 10 should now be activated. In the Background Windows 10 essentially looks for this ticket and if it finds it, it submits it to the Microsoft Product Server alongside your system hardware profile. This gives your system the Green Light for Product Activation making your system a Windows 10 Edition Device (in this case a Windows 10 Pro Device):