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Slmgr vs SoftWareLicensingService – Which one to use?

As mentioned earlier, most branded computers like Dell have stopped attaching certificate of authenticity (COA) to chassis since Windows 8.

Instead, they embed genuine OEM product key into BIOS at factory. Windows 8/8.1/10 installer will automatically retrieve the product key from BIOS during installation and activation. Therefore, purchasers (end users) do not really need to see this OEM product key.

If you desperately want to see it, you can retrieve it from SoftWareLicensingService via wmic command:
wmic path SoftWareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey

Apparently, this key retrieved from BIOS will not match the product key you entered for edition upgrade:

SoftWareLicensingService OA3xOriginalProductKey vs slmgr

As shown in the image, slmgr /dli will show the latest product key used for Windows activation (though only partial) and obviously it’s differ from the one embedded in BIOS.

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