To crack down on piracy, manufacturers will be required to write a unique (Encrypted) Windows product key -- which is associated with the hardware hash -- into the system's BIOS instead of using the same product key for every shipped computer.
The new OA system will also require OEMs to supply production reports to Microsoft, detailing their license compliance. A "Genuine Microsoft" label must also be affixed to the chassis, dumping the previous "Windows Certificate of Authenticity" sticker. Unused keys can be returned in real-time without shipping or insurance costs.
Do you know if the product key can be obtained from Belarc Advisor and how the user can use it should they wish to perform a clean installation?
I tried this on a system where I know what the key is.
Belarc Advisor seems to be UNABLE to find the actual key.
There is a new update
Belarc Advisor - Free Personal PC Audit (Version 8.3)
I will see if this shows the key or not.
Never Never ever tell someone to get this free program from Softtronic or other malware laden sites.
It would also appear that there are no more COA stickers as well.
If I'm wrong about that someone please tell me where to look.
you can use a utility like the Magical Jelly Bean Key Finder to retrieve it from the installed OS.
I have checked several Magical Jelly Bean executeables and they are pre seeded with malware so I would NEVER recommend them. Same with Belarc when it doesn't come from the original source.
What would this mean for a clean install? Is there any way to find the product key or will we be stuck on this step in case of a windows reinstallation?
If you have install media that contains the version of windows 8(.1) that the pc shipped with, it will not even ask for the key. The install will take the Nike approach and "just do it." That is why there is no COA.
This applies if dell gave you media, to restore usb media you have created, or to any ISO you downloaded from MSDN. Windows 8.1 will even copy the factory restore partition to USB for you.
If the media does NOT support the one that shipped with the PC, then you will need a bought retail key. Simple.