I did a fresh install of Win 8 on my PC, I was told the OEM product key will automatically supplied in the installtion. However, it did not happen in my case... this is the method i used to install Windows 8. Now im stuck with an unregistered Win 8. I'm wondering, now, if there's a way to extract the Product Key from my BIOS?

Edit: my pc came with OEM Windows 8 installed

  • 1
    Have you tried this tool?
    – Synetech
    Dec 3, 2012 at 4:05
  • @Synetech yes, this one is great! But the trouble is I've already formatted the OEM win8. The freshly installed Win8 doesn't have a valid product key. That's why I have to go to the BIOS =(
    – user22105
    Dec 3, 2012 at 4:15
  • 1
    Hmm, it is strange indeed. It should detect the key in your BIOS. Are you sure your system came with Windows 8? Do you have a sticker or anything? (Also, when you get your system back up and running, you can back up your activation status with this tool so that you don’t end up in this situation again.)
    – Synetech
    Dec 3, 2012 at 4:29
  • @Synetech I installed with a Win 8 Pro CD and used "the method" (superuser.com/questions/512123/…). If I go to My Computer's Properties, it says I have Win 8 (not Win 8 Pro). Thanks for the activation status backup tool, but right now I can't use it because I'll need the product key from the BIOS to activate it first errrrr...
    – user22105
    Dec 3, 2012 at 4:35
  • 1
    Yes, you mentioned that thread in the question. What I am asking is whether your system ever came with Windows 8. If it did not specifically say it comes with an OEM copy of Windows 8 pre-installed, then it might-not/probably-doesn’t have a key in the BIOS and instead uses a key on the DVD. Who told you that it had an OEM key? If you got a DVD, then you probably have to use the key on the disc instead.
    – Synetech
    Dec 3, 2012 at 5:02

6 Answers 6


See this tutorial for more help:

Windows 8 clean install from iso using the machines own Windows 8 OEM licence


The BIOS does store the OEM key. If you make a clean install on an unparticioned HDD with an MSDN installer, it can detect the key. However, the windows edition of the key must match the edition of the installer (Pro, with or without Media Center Pack, Enterprise, etc.). If the two don't match, the installer will prompt to enter the key and activate Windows.

Here's another interesting tutorial, to install a different version of Windows 8:

Installing Windows 8 Pro over Standard OEM in your new Win8 Certified notebook http://forum.notebookreview.com/asus/698920-installing-windows-8-pro-over-standard-oem-your-new-win8-certified-notebook.html


Download RW-EVERYTHING. Run it. Click on the ACPI Table button at the top. After that click on the MSDM tab. Your BIOS's product key is at the bottom.


When the program opens just remember to close the bottom windows first - having two windows open can cause the program to crash.

I tested this program because I had a hdd crash and had to clone the hard drive to a new one. I did a factory restore on the new drive, and then of course it wanted to be reactivated. This program helped me retrieve the key.

  • 1
    Screenshots? Links? Info about the program? May 10, 2013 at 6:47
  • Confirmed the randomly linked software doesn't have a trojan and posted a screenshot of the applicable screen, but apparently the edit queue didn't think that was a useful addition.
    – mootinator
    May 10, 2013 at 19:54
  • @mootinator It had one Approve vote when I saw it (just now) May 10, 2013 at 20:40
  • @Luke Yes, I did put it in the middle instead of the end so it would look less like it should have been a comment that time.
    – mootinator
    May 10, 2013 at 20:50
  • 1
    RW-Everything does not show the MSDM tab under ACPI Table on Alienwares. My guess is it doesn't show it on others as well... but why it doesn't come up I'm not sure. My guess is manufacturer specific bios encryption, but I could be way off. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I've tried running the program with and without admin privs to no avail. I'm also attempting to pull the Windows product key from the bios since my COA is rubbed to such an extent it's unreadable.
    – user223902
    May 13, 2013 at 3:33

The free OEM Product Key Tool from NeoSmart Technologies is probably the most straight-forward way of doing this. Just run the standalone exe and it'll come up in the main dialog like this:

NeoSmart product key tool

Disclosure: I work for NeoSmart

  • I have the error Unable to open MSDM table!
    – Shiro
    Sep 1, 2015 at 3:13
  • @Shiro: That means your BIOS does not have an embedded key. Sep 1, 2015 at 16:43
  • OK, thank you for your reply. I use another software check also nothing.
    – Shiro
    Sep 3, 2015 at 2:54
  • It does give some key, but the key doesn't work in activation. Aug 27, 2016 at 20:58

I had a similar situation... Brand new Dell M3800 and I immediately scratched all the disk to install Linux on the thing, and as a result I "lost" the key. Still, I wanted to install "my" Windows version into a VM (it comes on a USB stick).

So here is what I did:

  • dump the USB key (the entire device) to an image file (using dd),
  • dump the ACPI tables using acpidump.

As an answer mentions above, the table to look for is MSDM; the product key is the last characters in this table.

  • I did the same thing with the same laptop. Couldn't believe it was just sitting there in the clear but it was!
    – ctrlc-root
    Nov 16, 2015 at 20:37
  • @root.ctrlc well, such information has to be stored somewhere, after all ;) Search engines help a lot in this case!
    – fge
    Nov 16, 2015 at 20:44

From my experience, the OEM product key in the BIOS was never supplied at installation. I recommend those who wish to do a fresh install of Windows 8 on an OEM machine obtain the OEM Product Key first by using this tool (This step is important, because if you perform a fresh install without having obtained your OEM key, it would be extremely difficult to extract the product key from your BIOS). After formatting and a fresh install, enter your OEM product key manually. Immediately after the entry, your Windows 8 will automatically be activated (it does not require online activation). Good luck!

  • Everything went smoothly on my Dell Inspiron 15R 5521 (mid-2013, Win8). I recently removed the stock HDD, and put in a brand new Samsung SSD, then booted from a USB flash drive, prepared using the Win10 Media Creation Tool. Win10 installed without ever asking about the product key.
    – Doochz
    Dec 16, 2015 at 10:26

There is no product key in your BIOS. As you correctly said, the key is automatically supplied in the installation. Since you didn't install using the OEM's installer, the key was not supplied during the installation. You need to install with the OEM's Windows 8 installation media or with the OEM's recovery method.

  • 2
    according to this website (ghacks.net/2012/11/23/bios-embedded-windows-8-product-keys) the product key is embedded in the BIOS.... If they're not in the BIOS then where is the key stored? Also where is a good place to obtain an OEM's Windows 8 installation (for free)? it seems these days they charge for everthings... I called ASUS support, they are in the business of persuading me to buy a fresh copy of Win 8 from Microsoft....
    – user22105
    Dec 3, 2012 at 3:45
  • They're using the term "product key" to mean something different. This is the key portion of that article, "the installer will automatically recognize the product key and use it during installation and activation of the Windows 8 operating system". It's not a normal Windows 8 product key. The key is generated and activated by the OEM installer during the installation process. Dec 3, 2012 at 3:47
  • oh, i see. I thought "the method" i indicated in the post would trick Win8 installation to think it's an OEM installation. Do you know where can i obtain an OEM Windows 8 installation copy? Thank you!
    – user22105
    Dec 3, 2012 at 3:48
  • You need to install with the OEM's Windows 8 installation media or with the OEM's recovery method. That’s not how activation works in Windows 8. OEM’s actually do embed a key in the BIOS and the Windows 8 installer detects it and skips the key-entry dialog and activation procedure. That is the reason that the aforementioned blog is trying to figure out how to manually enter a key from a separately-bought copy of Windows 8 instead of having the key that came with the system be automatically used.
    – Synetech
    Dec 3, 2012 at 4:03
  • @David Schwartz according to this, you can use a retail DVD without issues AND the key is embedded to the BIOS: blogs.technet.com/b/keithcombs/archive/2012/11/16/… Dec 3, 2012 at 5:32

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