If you've installed Linux and want to examine whether or not your system has an OEM Embedded Product Key. Open up Files and Navigate to Other Locations:
Select your root directory:
Select the sys subfolder:
Select the firmware subfolder:
Select the acpi subfolder:
Select the tables subfolder:
In this folder looks for a:
- MSDM – Microsoft Digital Marker containing unique Windows 8, 8.1, 10 and 11 Embedded Product Keys.
- SLIC – System License Internal Code. This was used for OEM Activation on legacy Windows Versions such as Windows 7. Legacy systems typically had a physical sticker containing the product key.
You may not have these, if your system does not have an OEM License or your motherboard has been replaced.
Right click the folder and select open in Terminal:
Recall sudo is an abbreviation for super user do and is needed to access files out with the home directory. An authentication prompt will display and you'll need to input your password in order to proceed.
You will see your systems:
SMBIOS – System Management BIOS which gives an indication of the age and capabilities of your hardware. A modern UEFI BIOS (late 2015 model or newer) has a SMBIOS of 3.0 or higher.
Details about your computer vendor, model and serial number will display in addition to your BIOS Version.
You can update your BIOS Version, note the SMBIOS Version remains constant.
To update your BIOS download the latest BIOS Update from your Computer Manufacturers Website and copy it to a USB Flash Drive. Power up the system, pressing F12 to get to the UEFI Boot Menu. Select Update BIOS and navigate to the file on the USB (updating the BIOS from USB using the Boot Menu requires a SMBIOS of 3.0 or later).
The OEM Product key is contained in the MSDM file.
This is a binary file which means each binary value or bit is either 0 or 1. The binary data is grouped into 8 bits known as a byte and a byte is typically displayed as two hexadecimal characters.
Each number combination in a byte is mapped to an English character using ASCII. To view the product key in ASCII the string command is required. This may require installation of binary utilities using:
sudo apt install binutils
Replace the advanced package tool apt with dandified yellowdog update manager dnf if using another Linux distribution such as Fedora.
Once installed use:
sudo strings MSDM
You should see your product key:
Since you have a Windows Product key, you should be able to install Windows 10 Version 22H2 or Windows 11 Version 22H2 on your Device without issues.
Windows 10 Version 22H2 or Windows 11 22H2 should automatically input this Product Key from your Computer During Installation taking you directly to the Licence Agreement Screen and automatically activating online.
SMBIOS >3.0 Modern UEFI
If your system has a SMBIOS of 3.1 it should satisfy Windows 11 higher system requirements and you will get better performance on Windows 11 than Windows 10.
Install Windows 11 using a UEFI Boot with Secure Boot, Enable the TPM 2.0 and use the RAID SATA Operation, loading the required storage drivers during Windows 11 Installation.
If your system has a SMBIOS of 3.0 and has a higher grade processor such an i5 or i7, Windows 11 will perform better than Windows 10 despite having an unsupported processor.
SMBIOS 2.7-2.9 Early UEFI
These models are between 8-12 years old and have an earlier implementation of Secure Boot and typically an older version of TPM such as 1.2. In 2020, a major Boot Hole was discovered making the Secure Boot no longer Secure on these models. No BIOS updates were issued for these models as chip manufacturers such as Intel no longer support them.
You will likely get better performance on Windows 10 than Windows 11.
Install Windows 10 using a UEFI Boot with Secure Boot (Insecure Secure Boot is better than no Secure Boot).
Legacy BIOS or Prototype UEFI
Systems with a SMBIOS <2.7 are Legacy BIOS Only Systems or the first prototypes of a UEFI BIOS lacking capabilities such as Secure Boot. These models exceed 12 years and won't perform well on a modern build of Windows. They may perform better on lighter Linux Distros such as Mint 21.1.
These Legacy systems should begin to be considered as End of Life models as RedHat, the company who maintain Fedora Linux has began discussions on dropping Linux support of Legacy BIOS.