What is a Windows COA or Product Key?

What is a Windows COA or Product Key?

Windows product keys and COA information


If you have a computer With Windows 8, Windows 10 or Windows 11 then you do not need your product key. If your system was built by a large manufacture such as Acer, Alienware, Asus, Dell, Asus, Lenovo, Toshiba or any other, then your product key is embedded in your BIOS. The recovery software will automatically find it and activate your Windows.

All computers that were supplied pre-installed with the Windows operating system before the release of Windows 8, were activated by a using the serial number found on a sticker that was attached to the computer. This sticker was known as the COA or Certificate of Authenticity. The Windows product key is normally the 25-character alphanumeric string printed on the COA.
With the launch of Windows® 8 on October 26, 2012 Microsoft introduced a new method of activating Windows. This was achieved by embedding the product key into the computer's BIOS chips. The was done as many product keys were on paper or stickers on the COA and many got damaged lost or even stolen. Using this new method the COA and product key will never get removed or destroyed and the product key will always be associated with the OEM system. If your system was made by a large OEM manufacturer like Toshiba, Lenovo, Dell, Alienware etc... then you will not need to type in a Windows serial number to activate or install it, Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 will automatically retrieve it from the computer BIOS and active it.

If you still want your actual serial number you can use a Windows BIOS product key finder to retrieve your product key.

Make sure you have the correct key as the embedded OEM product key number is the bulk OEM product key and will not active your new install. Only use a product key finder if you have no other way to find it!

Sometimes for some older laptops the COA may be inside the battery compartment. If you don't see a printed paer COA, and your operating system is NOT Windows 10, 8.1 or 8 then it's likely that Windows isn't properly licensed on that computer and it may even be counterfeit software.

Please note, you do NOT need a product key or serial number to install or use a driver disk or data recovery disk.

enter your product key

More Windows Product Key Information

You can find more information from the Microsoft official website.  Keep in mind that this link only applies to:
Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 8 and Windows 7.

How to find your Windows 11 10 8.1 8 and 7 product key

windows 7 and windows xp coa examplewindows 10 and windows 7 coa example

Tools to Find a Missing Windows Product Key Video

Updated 31/03/2023

Article Written By Restore Solutions : August 17th, 2019.