Windows 10: Product keys and naming?

  • Hi there

    Finally I have my FOG running properly and everything seems to be good to go. BUT, I have come across a problem.

    As of right now my unattend.xml has a generic Windows 10 key, as I have been told that it is neccasary to have a key in the answerfile? Maybe I should try without it unless you guys know for certain.

    The problem is: I have a bunch of Dell machines with OEM Win7 licenses attached. These keys are the oldschool type with a physical label on the side - so I even know every single key (no need for ROM digging). All these machines need to be upgraded/updated, as I only know 2 ways to do so:

    1. Windows Upgrade on existing W7 installation.
    2. Clean install, type in existing key - Apparently this also activates properly.

    I know now that if I try with a unique answerfile, including the key bound to the machine, the sysprep does NOT activate the key. Neither will manual activation after imaging is complete.

    I see that the new FOG has a spot for “Product Key”, perhaps this is meant for something?

    The last thing is the rename part. Formerly I have had the computername part of the unattend.xml filled out with “RENAME” - and it would then give the newly imaged PC a name corresponding to the ID applied via FOG… But now I see that my machine is named “RENAME” after imaging…

    That was a mouthful… I hope you guys can help me :S So far I love FOG but I am also new to it all.

  • @Quazz it uses slmgr.


            private static bool InstallProductKey(string key)
                Log.Entry(LogName, "Installing Product key");
                return RunSLMGR("/ipk", key) == 0;

    Check Windows + R > slmgr.vbs /?

    Regards X23

  • @Quazz That is a question best left for answer by @joe-schmitt.

    I don’t understand C# code, but I can follow “logic” paths so, if you’re anything like me in the sense of reading:

    If I’m reading into this properly, it would appear it’s using Windows native DLL’s to perform the checks and activation process.

  • Moderator

    @Tom-Elliott Windows 8 often reads the key straight from BIOS if I’m not mistaken (assuming there is one in BIOS), Windows 10 checks with Microsoft servers if your computer is registered or not. (in other words, once registered, you no longer need the Windows 7 keys since it will activate off of the Microsoft servers).

    However, I don’t know how it works if you want to use W7 keys to activate it. How does FOG enter the product key? Does it use the registry?

  • @MadsMagnus the key value you put in the fog GUI is the very familiar 25 character Windows cd key nearly everybody is made aware of. If the machine you’re seeing this came with Windows 7 originally, the product key should be on the machine or with the user documentation/disks/books or whatever from when you got the machine. OEM keys are often stored in a SLIC format and the BIOS is queried to verify and activate the key automatically. In regards to Windows 8/8.1/10 I’m not sure how it knows what to do but it is usually automated and OEM still follows a very similar form.

  • @Wayne-Workman

    Do you know if it is the OA/OEM key that you fx would find on the COA of a machine - or the “translated” product key that is used once a machine is running W10? Because I cannot seem to find my original key anywhere once W10 is installed.

  • @MadsMagnus No mater how the key got there on the local host - if there is a different key set in the host’s Product Key field in the FOG DB, the new client will change the host’s key to the one from the FOG DB and then activate it.

    If you don’t want that to happen, leave the product key in FOG blank, or make sure the key stored matches (somehow).

    Also - going to ask @jbob to clairify when he gets time. Because of course I’ve been totally wrong before. But if I remember right, this is what he said about it.

  • Moderator

    @MadsMagnus I don’t believe there’s currently a way to extract the upgraded W10 key because they’re stored solely on W10 servers and all you get on your PC is a dummy key.

  • @Wayne-Workman

    When you say product key, you mean the newly generated product key from Windows 10 yes? Because right now I am trying to get this running by using our Windows 7 COA keys.

  • @x23piracy said in Windows 10: Product keys and naming?:

    @MadsMagnus once a windows 10 has been activated (embedded or upgraded) there is no need to enter a key it will just activate fine.

    I have a lot upgraded pc’s and when i image key can also be empty it will activate the stored information on the ms activation servers.

    Regards X23

    While true without fog, this is not true in the sense of the FOG Client and how it operates.

    If the key in the FOG DB does not match the local key, the client will change it and then activate it.

  • @MadsMagnus once a windows 10 has been activated (embedded or upgraded) there is no need to enter a key it will just activate fine.

    I have a lot upgraded pc’s and when i image key can also be empty it will activate the stored information on the ms activation servers.

    Regards X23

  • @Wayne-Workman

    Yeah I think I have understand the fact that I must upgrade/clean install Windows 10 (and enter key) before the machine is “upgraded”.

    So what do you guys do about embedded Windows keys on laptops? Do I really have to dig em all out 1 by 1?

    But just to be clear, once the machine is upgraded - the product key part on FOG should work - yes?

  • @x23piracy That’s one way, but I’m using an actual Win10 enterprise key with fresh Win10 enterprise images.

  • Hi,

    you have to walk the upgrade path else it will not work, changing the key with fog is not the way t’is done via the upgrade path.
    The way i do is having a usb stick with the latest windows 10 via media creation tool and a unattend.xml that completely automates the windows 10 setup (except key), i use a PID.txt under source within the product key of each win7 label from a specific pc (you need to change the key in the file for another pc).

    I can give more details if you need.

    I could not find a way for an imaged windows 10 to get a valid activation while trying to change the key from a windows 7 label, windows 10 will accept this key if you haven’t walked the upgrade path.

    They force you to enter the key while your doing the normal windows 10 setup.

    For my Windows 10 Image i entered an installation key, this key cannot removed completely before a sysprep, i tried a lot with slmgr.vbs but if entered in the setup and syspreped there will always be the install key. you can change it afterwards but not with a simple slmgr.vbs command in front of sysprep.

    Regards X23

  • @MadsMagnus The “Product Key” field is for the OS. You can type your key in there, and the new fog client will activate that host with that key.

    if you have a MAK key, you can use groups to assign it to many computers at once.

    We have a fleet of laptops that each have their own key, took a hot minute to key all those into each host but it works perfectly. That host will always use that key, until it’s changed.

  • @Quazz

    Yes I am aware that it needs to be build 1511 before Win7/Win8 keys are eligible. But I still feel that this problem, with FOG being involed, is a whole different ballgame?

  • Moderator

    You only need to specificy a key in unattend for Windows 8 and Vista I believe, you can skip it in other versions.

    You can activate Windows 10 with Windows 7 license, yes, but only after the October update (so if you can’t activate it’s because you haven’t done that upgrade yet)