Skip to main content
  • Place orders quickly and easily
  • View orders and track your shipping status
  • Enjoy members-only rewards and discounts
  • Create and access a list of your products
  • Manage your Dell EMC sites, products, and product-level contacts using Company Administration.

Microsoft OEM Windows Server Certificate of Authenticity on Dell EMC PowerEdge Servers

Summary: Locating the Microsoft OEM Server Operating System Certificate of Authenticity (COA) label on Dell EMC PowerEdge servers.

This article may have been automatically translated. If you have any feedback regarding its quality, please let us know using the form at the bottom of this page.

Article Content


Certificate of Authenticity (COA)

The COA is a sticker or a label that helps identify genuine Microsoft Windows software often attached to the chassis of the server. All OEM Windows Server operating system orders must contain a COA label providing a legal license to run Windows software. The COA label also contains the operating system's product key. The product key may be needed in the event the operating system must be reinstalled and for virtual machine instances.

Standalone COAs

Definition: Standalone COAs are COAs sold by themselves, without the accompanying software they authenticate. They are often branded as "excess inventory" or "unused labels" and are often counterfeit COAs. Purchasing standalone COAs and passing them off to unsuspecting customers is a form of piracy.

How to Avoid: COAs should never be sold, shipped, or purchased on their own, without being affixed to a system or sold with related Microsoft software (either full packaged product or Microsoft OEM software acquired by system builders). Do not fall victim to standalone COAs.

For additional details, see Microsoft PC Purchase, How to Tell.

Versions of COAs

  • Introduced in February 2021, Microsoft released an updated version of the COA label with revised anti-counterfeit features. For COAs affixed to systems preinstalled with or licensed for Windows after February 1, 2021 the COA may feature the product name printed on the label and also contain anti-counterfeit security features.
    Example COA label beginning on February 2021

  • Introduced in February 2020, a polymer substrate replaced the paper based substrate. The artwork and anti-piracy feature were also updated.
    Example COA label beginning in February 2020

  • For COAs affixed to systems preinstalled with or licensed for versions of Windows, the COA may feature the product name printed on the label and also contains anti-counterfeit security features such as:

    • Interwoven security thread – is built into the paper and random paper fibers are visible when the thread appears at the surface
    • Color shifting ink edge - changes from green to magenta when viewed from different angles
    • Moiré Image – Within the red area on the left hand side of the label is a feature to assist in proving the label is genuine. Hold the label horizontally at arm's length and at eye level. Look straight at the label and then move to a very shallow viewing angle, for example by tilting the label away from you. A series of zig zag lines and squares will become visible where there previously appeared to be none.
    Example COA label begging in December 2016

Product Key Concealment

In addition to the features mentioned above, effective July 19, 2016 this concealment solution has been expanded to all products which utilize a 25-character product key. The concealment panel consists of a small clear label with removable silver scratch off material that has been applied to conceal a portion of the 25-characters of the product key.

Similar to the removable material commonly found on lottery tickets or prize vouchers, this concealment panel is designed to protect the consumer’s product key from being obtained and used by unauthorized individuals. When a Product Key is required for use by the rightful owner, the silver scratch off material should be removed with a fingernail or coin to reveal the entire 25-characters required to enable activation of the Product.

Example of COA Product Key Concealment

Location of COA

The COA label is affixed by Dell EMC to the servers at the factory for preinstalled Windows Server Operating Systems. A COA label may also be applied to a server by a Dell EMC channel partner as part of a Reseller Option Kit (ROK).

To locate your Dell EMC OEM operating system COA, look in the following locations:
Rack server: The COA is adhered to the top of the server chassis.
COA label on top of rack server
Tower server: The COA is adhered to the top or back of the server chassis.
Blade or modular server: The COA is adhered to the top of the server blade.
COA label on

C-series blades have the COA sticker on the bottom of the blade sled.
15th Gen rack mount servers: The COA is located closer to the middle of the server which requires pulling the server out farther from the rack to see it. 
15th Gen COA sticker location


Dell EMC


Dell Technologies 2023

Article Properties

Last Published Date

11 Jan 2024



Article Type