R.Thomas
1 Nickel

Windows 8 Product Key Disappeared

A customer brought me an Inspiron 17R 5720 to refurbish for them. I'm assuming it came pre-loaded with either Windows 8 or 8.1 judging by the lack of product key under the battery and the Windows 8 logo on the bottom. The parts list on Dell's support site using the service tag even says it came with Windows 8 recovery media. The user said they had upgraded it to Windows 10 at some point. 

The hard drive was failing so I replaced it. The problem I'm having is there doesn't seem to be a Windows 8, 8.1, or 10 product key. This has been confirmed by 3rd party software which extracts the product key from the BIOS and by Microsoft's activation support, who connected to the laptop and executed something in Command Prompt which turned up nothing. Microsoft's activation support told me I needed to contact Dell to have them give me the product key for the laptop which is laughable. 

I've never had this issue before and I'm at a loss as to what to do other than tell my customer that they have to purchase a copy of Windows for me to install. The question is, what happened? I know Microsoft stopped with the sticker COA's and they're somehow embedded in the motherboard's BIOS, but nothing I use seems to turn up anything. Secure boot and UEFI are both enabled in the BIOS. 

Is there something else I could try to see what happened to the product key? I should also mention the customer no longer has the recovery media. I tried using a Dell 8.1 disc that I had lying around, but I still get the same issue with activation and no product key found. 

Any help is appreciated. 

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15 Replies
Philip_Yip
6 Indium

RE: Windows 8 Product Key Disappeared

If you install RWEverything and go to access then ACPI tables does it have a MSDM table? If there is no MSDM table then there is no UEFI BIOS embedded SLP key. Since it was refurbished its possible the motherboard got replaced with one that didn't have a UEFI BIOS SLP key or that was the original problem and why it was sold as refurbished.

If Windows 10 successfully installed via Windows Update the system is likely already a Windows 10 Edition Device so you should be able to reinstall Windows 10 Edition (try the Home Edition and then the Home Single Language Edition) and skip input of the product key. It should automatically reactivate when online. If it doesn't for neither of these Editions (and has a non-Pro sticker) then you essentially need to buy Windows again or use some unofficial workarounds such as the 10130 Insider Preview Upgrade path.

Dr Philip Yip
Tech Enthusiast and Author of the Unofficial Dell Windows Reinstallation Guide

Windows FAQs and OEM Downloads


#IDoNotWorkFor Dell
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R.Thomas
1 Nickel

RE: Windows 8 Product Key Disappeared

As far as I can tell, the machine wasn't refurbished. It was given to me to refurbish and all I did hardware wise was replace the keyboard and the hard drive. Doesn't really look like anyone has had it apart before either.

I downloaded RWEverything and I don't see any reference to MSDM in the tabs or within the tabs themselves.

Also, I did try downloading Windows 10 Home from Microsoft and it let me bypass putting in the product key during installation, but when I go to activate, it says the product key has been blocked. I'm also under the new impression that the Windows 10 that one can download from Microsoft using the media creation utility is a retail copy, not OEM which is what I would need. 

What I still don't understand is if the machine came pre-loaded with Windows 8 and was upgraded to 10 using the upgrade pop-up Microsoft put out, what happened to the MSDM table?

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ieee488
6 Gallium

RE: Windows 8 Product Key Disappeared

You can use the Service Tag number and find out the original configuration of the PC.

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Philip_Yip
6 Indium

RE: Windows 8 Product Key Disappeared

There is no difference between OEM and Retail media with Windows 8.1 (with Update 1) or Windows 10 TH2. Getting media from Dell will not help you if there is no MSDM table. All they can do is replace the motherboard (if in warranty).

Does it have the latest UEFI BIOS revision? If not try to flash the UEFI BIOS and launch RWEverything again. I doubt this will fix this issue but it did for 1 person in the past so its worth a try.

Otherwise its get Dell to replace the motherboard, buy Windows 10 again or use the unofficial 10130 upgrade path...

Dr Philip Yip
Tech Enthusiast and Author of the Unofficial Dell Windows Reinstallation Guide

Windows FAQs and OEM Downloads


#IDoNotWorkFor Dell
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R.Thomas
1 Nickel

RE: Windows 8 Product Key Disappeared

I know, I discussed this in the very first post when I said, "I'm assuming it came pre-loaded with either Windows 8 or 8.1 judging by the lack of product key under the battery and the Windows 8 logo on the bottom. The parts list on Dell's support site using the service tag even says it came with Windows 8 recovery media."

This was included in the parts list since my statement apparently wasn't specific enough...

T6CXV1DPK, OPERATING SYSTEM, W8H32/64

GKK5X1KIT, MEDIA, DIGITAL VIDEO DISK DRIVE, RDVD, 5720, WIN8

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R.Thomas
1 Nickel

RE: Windows 8 Product Key Disappeared

The laptop is no longer under warranty and everything seems to point to this laptop having some version of 8 on it when it was brand new. I did flash the BIOS to the latest version, but there's still no MSDM table to be found.

So it just looks like by the powers of some unknown force that the MSDM table has disappeared and my customer has to purchase another copy of Windows. Probably just going to sway them to go to Linux at this point...

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ieee488
6 Gallium

RE: Windows 8 Product Key Disappeared

The laptop is no longer under warranty and everything seems to point to this laptop having some version of 8 on it when it was brand new. I did flash the BIOS to the latest version, but there's still no MSDM table to be found.

So it just looks like by the powers of some unknown force that the MSDM table has disappeared and my customer has to purchase another copy of Windows. Probably just going to sway them to go to Linux at this point...

You don't have to guess anything. The Service Tag # available in the BIOS should tell you the Original Configuration of the laptop.

There is nothing wrong with Linux.  I have been using it for 15+ years.  I use it almost exclusively. I use Windows because of my work.  I love LinuxMint.

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Philip_Yip
6 Indium

RE: Windows 8 Product Key Disappeared

So the system had Windows 8 and now has lost its MSDM table. Microsoft will be of absolute no help. Dell can only replace the motherboard (if within warranty). Follow the unofficial 10130 upgrade path. Since this is a UEFI system make both USBs for the GPT partition scheme for UEFI BIOS instead of the MBR partition scheme for Legacy BIOS:

http://dellwindowsreinstallationguide.com/windows-xpvista-%e2%86%92-windows-10-free-upgrade/

Dr Philip Yip
Tech Enthusiast and Author of the Unofficial Dell Windows Reinstallation Guide

Windows FAQs and OEM Downloads


#IDoNotWorkFor Dell
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7 Plutonium

RE: Windows 8 Product Key Disappeared

Belarc Advisor 8.5c may tell you via the key associated with IE which is the key before windows 10.  Once windows 10 is installed belarc reverts to a generic key.

There is no losing msm key it means the motherboard was replaced with a blank bios meaning it was not keyed at the factory which is what the MSM requires.


Flagged by trying to edit.

There is no way an out of warranty system is getting a free windows 8 or 10 licence $120 to $200 value for free.  If you buy said copy of Home or Pro it will install and it will work and have a key outside of bios.

 


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