How to recover a Windows license key and determine if it is reusable on another PC?

Retrieve the Windows license key from your old PC and check in seconds if it can be reused to install Windows on a new machine.

Is your current PC nearing its end and you plan to invest in a new machine? Before you consider buying a new Windows license, you may be able to reuse the one you used on your old PC to activate Windows on your new PC.

The procedure to retrieve the Windows license key is as simple as typing a command line at the command prompt of the operating system. Be careful though, getting this software key back doesn’t mean you can use it to activate the copy of Windows installed on your new PC.

Windows’ relatively complex licensing system is divided into three categories: OEM, retail, and volume. Each of these license categories offers more or fewer permissions.

What is the difference between an OEM, retail and volume license?

Simply put, OEM-sealed licenses are pre-activated licenses that come with new computers with Windows already installed and ready to go. This license, in fact, is attached to the machine it is on and can only be used with it. OEM licenses are usually saved directly to the PC’s BIOS or UEFI firmware. This is also the reason why you do not need to reactivate your copy of Windows when you reinstall Windows from a recovery partition present on the PC.

So-called Retail Windows licenses are commercial licenses, which you have purchased in a dematerialized version or in a boxed version online or from an official reseller. In a dematerialized (or digital) version, the license is associated with your computer and linked to your Microsoft account. Specifically, on a new machine, all you have to do is connect it to the Internet and sign in with your Microsoft account for Windows activation to happen automatically. If you purchased a boxed version, you must have a physical installation version of Windows (such as a DVD or USB key in the case of Windows 11). The license usually appears somewhere on the box. Retail licenses can be transferred between machines, but can only be used on one PC at a time.

Windows Volume Licenses are, as the name implies, licenses that are sold in bulk to companies, associations, governments, education, etc. and can be installed on a limited number of computers. Once this limit on the number of computers allowed to activate Windows is reached, this license key cannot be installed on another machine. This is usually the type of license that you can find in attractive offers where the Windows 11 activation key is billed to you for less than ten euros. These license keys can potentially be reused, provided, of course, that their maximum number of uses has not been exceeded.

How do you know if your license key is reusable?

To determine if the Windows license key used on your old machine can be reused on your new PC, a simple command line is enough.

1. Open Command Prompt

From a Windows administrator session, use the keyboard shortcut Windows+Rthen in the window Run that appears, write cmd and press the key Get in to validate.


2. Determine the type of your license key

To find out the type of license key used to activate your PC’s copy of Windows, copy and paste the command slmgr-dli at the command prompt and press the Enter key on the keyboard to validate.


Window Windows Script Host then it should open. Then look at the line Description to discover the type of license used on your PC: OEM, Retail sale Where Volume. Go ahead okay to close the window.

Windows Script Host

How to retrieve your Windows license key

To find the Windows license key used on your computer, a simple command line is enough. The handling is available to everyone and does not require any particular skills.

1. Enter the command

always in the windowSymbol of the system open window on the screen, simply copy and paste the following command and validate by pressing the Enter key on the keyboard:

wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey

wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey

2. Pick up your key

Logically, theSymbol of the system it should automatically display the Windows product key used on your PC. Copy it and keep it in a safe place so you can easily reuse it.

wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey

You will be prompted when you reinstall Windows to activate your copy on Microsoft servers.

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