In order to be activated, all versions of Windows require a specific product key that is given to the buyer of the Operating System by Microsoft. Once you have activated a Windows product, however, losing the product key you got for it is almost inevitable. Thankfully, though, the product key that is used to activate a copy of Windows is stored in its registry and can be called upon whenever need be. However, the method that must be used in order to retrieve your Windows product key depends on what version of the Windows OS you are using.
For Windows 7 users:
While Windows 7 does store the product key that has been used to activate it within its registry, it stores it in an encrypted form. Since that is the case, Windows 7 users need the help of third-party programs to retrieve their product keys. One of the simplest ways a Windows 7 user can retrieve their product key is by having a third-party computer assessment program by the name of Belarc Advisor fetch it for them. To do so, you need to:
Click here to download Belarc Advisor.
Once the program has been downloaded, navigate to the directory to which it has been saved and double-click on it to launch it.
Go through the installation wizard for Belarc Advisor.
Once Belarc Advisor has been installed successfully, the installation wizard will be automatically closed and Belarc Advisor will be launched automatically.
You are going to see a dialog about Belarc Advisor Click on No, and Belarc Advisor will begin analyzing your computer and creating a report.
The compilation of the report should only take a few minutes, and once the report has been compiled, Belarc Advisor will automatically open it in a new tab on your default internet browser.
Once you see the report, scroll all the way down to the Software Licenses
The 25-character alphanumeric product key for your copy of Windows 7 will be found next to the Microsoft – Windows 7 entry under the Software Licenses
Once you see your Windows 7 product key, copy it to a safe location so that you can easily retrieve it at a later time. When you are done with it, you are free to uninstall Belarc Advisor.
For Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 users:
Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 users can quite easily find their product key, and they can do so using either an elevated Command Prompt or an instance of Windows PowerShell that has administrative privileges.
How to find your Windows product key through an elevated Command Prompt
Right-click on the Start Menu button to open the WinX Menu, and click on Command Prompt (Admin) in the WinX Menu. Doing so will launch an elevated Command Prompt, which is basically a Command Prompt that has administrative privileges.
Type the following into the elevated Command Prompt and then press Enter:
wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey
The command will be executed in a matter of seconds, and once it has been fully executed, the license key for your version of the Windows Operating System will be displayed.
How to find your Windows product key using PowerShell
Open the Start Menu.
Search for “powershell”.
Right-click on the search result named Windows PowerShell and click on Run as administrator to launch an instance of PowerShell with administrative privileges.
Type the following into PowerShell and press Enter:
powershell “(Get-WmiObject -query ‘select * from SoftwareLicensingService’).OA3xOriginalProductKey”
As soon as this command has been fully executed, the license key for your version of the Windows OS will appear in PowerShell.