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Finding Windows Keys on Hardware

by Brent Stewart on Monday, Apr 4, 2022

My son’s computer blew up and we didn’t have a copy of the Windows key. This is something I have run into before - I typically blow Windows off new PCs and install Linux, but then occassionally want to create a Windows VM using that key. It used to be on a sticker on the laptop, but it’s not anymore. It turns out a copy of the key is stored in BIOS or UEFI and accessible via ACPI. ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) is an abstract interface that provides a standrard way to access hardware functions.

Discovering Windows Keys in BIOS using Linux

ACPI tables are stored in /sys/firmware/acpi/tables. As an administrator, you can read those text files to see the various settings and values. The table with the Windows key is MSDM.

sudo strings /sys/firmware/acpi/tables/MSDM

Discovering Windows Keys in BIOS using Windows

I’ve seen some tools to grab the key from ACPI under Windows. I haven’t used any of these tools, but this is simple to get from a Windows command line.

wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey


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