Whether you can reuse your product key depends on your Windows license. Here’s how to find out.
The type of Windows license you have determines whether or not you can transfer your product key to other PCs. A distinction is made between three licences:
Retail, OEM and volume license.
We explain what distinguishes the three licenses and how you can know which of them is used on your computer.
Windows licensing: what you need to know
Product keys are used to activate versions of Windows. Depending on the type of license, such a key is tied to a specific device (or its hardware) or can be freely transferred to other devices as long as it is not activated multiple times, because that is not possible. Microsoft grants three types of licenses:
Retail keys are the most flexible license type. You can reuse such a key on different computers (but not use it at the same time). So if you build a brand new PC, you can transfer the license to it without any problem.
OEM key (OEM =
Original Equipment Manufacturer
) are used by manufacturers to activate a new PC. They are only intended for a single computer and are therefore tied to the system hardware (usually the motherboard) on which the key is used.
Volume keys are licenses purchased by entities such as the government, schools, and businesses. An IT administrator determines which computers have an active license.
To read your Windows license, there is an on board
Software License Management Tool (SLMGR).
You have two options to run the tool:
In both cases, it opens after a few seconds.
Windows Script Host Window
with the appropriate license information for your Windows system. You can see the type of license you have at the top under “Description” and a little further down under “Product Key Channel”.
The SLMGR command gives you information about the license you are using.
By the way:
Despite the limitations of OEM licenses, you can reactivate an OEM key on modified hardware. This option is primarily intended for people whose hardware unexpectedly left the ghost and who received a replacement. After major hardware changes, a reactivation may be required. However, if the PC hardware fundamentally changes, Microsoft may decline reactivation. You can find more information about it at
This article is based on the
original in english
our colleagues at PC-World.
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