Windows 10 Keys

Lately, there’s been a lot of online stores selling cheap Windows 10 licenses or product keys. Some people got lucky, others wished they knew a little more about the types of keys Microsoft offers, before buying one.

What is a Windows key?

In short, its a series of numbers and alphabets combined, to form a digital license required to activate your copy of the Windows. Your Windows will run fine without it, except that it may be limited by some features, though.

Inactivated Windows 10
Windows 10 disabled personalize settings due to inactivation.

How many type of Windows 10 keys are there?

OEM Keys

This key is mostly sold to OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer) like HP, Dell, Samsung and etc. They purchase these keys from Microsoft in order to activate the machines that they sell. The fee for this is already included in the machine’s total price.

The problem with this key is, it binds to the motherboard/hardware profile. Simply means, if you change any part in the machine, the license will become invalid.

Retail Keys

These are the keys that authorized dealers and online stores sell and the best of the bunch.

The best thing about this key is that its transferrable from one machine to another. Or if you change any hardware in your machine, it won’t bother you as the OEM key will. You also get Microsoft phone support with this one.

Volume Keys

These keys are the assholes of the village. They are particularly sold to large organizations and education centers in bulk. They’re pretty cheap in price as well, which is why most online stores are selling them, saying it’s an OEM or Retail key.

The biggest problem with these keys is that they get invalidated once the bulk amount is reached, I guess.

How to know what type of key is it before buying?

Sorry to pop your bubble, there’s no valid way to know for sure which key you’re buying. You can only find out about this, once you enter the key and activate your system.

If you wanna check your license, just open up the command prompt and enter this command and press enter.

slmgr -dli

After you press enter, you’ll be shown a pop-up box, which will reveal your license type.

Volume License
Retail License
OEM License

So be careful where you buy your license from and you’re welcome.

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About Author

Mustafa is a multidisciplinary designer with a decade's worth of experience in the industry. Passionate about design, video games and some other stuff including coffee and cats.

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