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How to Read, Install and Uninstall a Product Key on Windows

a key

If you’ve bought a Windows PC made by OEM, there is a Winodws product key associated with its motherboard. You can read current key, also you can uninstall it and install another one. I’ll show you all in this post.

All of following steps are performed in Windows Command Line Interface(CLI). Please read this to learn how to open a CLI on different versions of Windows.

What is Windows Product Key?

A product key is a 25-character code that’s used to activate Windows and helps verify that Windows hasn’t been used on more PCs than the Microsoft Software License Terms allow.

Microsoft Support

Lots of software use product key to verify user’s access, Windows, another kind of software product, also uses this method.

In most cases, Windows 11 and Windows 10 activates automatically using a digital license and doesn’t require you to enter a product key. However, if a product key is required, it can usually be found in the confirmation email you received after purchasing Windows, or in the box Windows came in. 

Microsoft Support

Usually you can purchase a Windows product key from Microsoft store, as well as from 3rd party retailers, for example:

Table of Windows Discounts

EditionWindows 11Windows 10
Home$37.7 165.38$37.7 165.38
Pro$52.9 276.18$52.9 276.18
Pro for Workstation$90.9 378.18$90.9 378.18
Enterprise LTSC 2021$106.1 242.9
* Prices updated on 2024/4/15

Read Current Key

Before you change the product key, it’s highly recommended to read and backup current key. Write down your Windows product key in a notebook in case you need it someday.

Input or paste this command in Windows CLI, and press Enter key to run:

wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey

You can find the key from the output:

read product key on Windows

Uinstall Current Key

You can easily uninstall current key if you want, with this simple command:

slmgr -upk

After running this command, you should see a message box like this:

uninstall product key on Windows

Install a New Key

Installing a new product key is easy, too. You should prepare a valid key, and then run this command(a series of x stands for product key):

slmgr -ipk XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX

A message box will prompt saying the installation is successful.

install a product key on Windows

But that’s not complete yet, you need to activate the system by running this command:

slmgr -ato

If the key is valid, you should be told that activation is successful.

Windows Professional Workstation activated

Theoretically you can re-activate a key on the same computer without limit number of times, but if you do this on different computers, your key may be banned.

Thank you for your reading, I hope this tutorial can help you manage product keys and activation of Windows.

A skilled Windows user and explorer. Mainly focus on Tips and Fixes.

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