Saving your Windows license

For quite some time now, I have been postponing the switch to some flavour of Linux on my laptop, due the the fact that it came with an OEM license.

OEM stands for “original equipment manufacturer” and OEM License is a phrase that refers to software that is sold to computer builders and hardware manufacturers (OEMs), for the purpose of bundling with computer hardware.

Doing a hardware change

Linking your Windows 10 (version 1607 or later) digital license key to your Microsoft account is Microsoft’s recommendation. After doing this, you will be able to reactivate your license after a significant hardware change (which includes changing the HDD/SSD).

Create your Microsoft account

You can easily create an account at this page:

Save your license

First of all, you should login to your newly created account, by doing the following:

Then you should check your activation information:

  • Start > Settings > Update & Security > Activation;
  • Should you see “Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account”, then no other action is required;
  • Also, please make sure that the edition – Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro – is saved properly.

Reactivate the license

  • Start > Settings > Update & Security > Activation > Troubleshoot;
  • You should see: “Windows is not activated”;
  • Click on “I changed my hardware on this device recently”;
  • Sign in to your Microsoft account, select the device you are on and click on “Activate”.

Backup your partitions

The hardware change method should work in this case, as well. However, backing up the partitions on your computer is a good precautionary measure. For those who think it’s necessary, Clonezilla is the recommended tool for it. It is a bootable tool, so it will easily backup your installation, together with any recovery partitions you might have.

Backing up your partitions is generally a good idea, if you desire to switch to a different operating system, but at the same time with to keep.


You can also use the terminal to view the product key. To do so, open a terminal and run this command:

  • wmic path SoftwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey

More info: