Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Windows 8 moves to BIOS-based product keys

  1. #21


    Hafnarfjörđur IS
    Posts : 4,376
    Linux Centos 7, W8.1, W7, W2K3 Server W10


    Hi there
    Anybody tested this yet

    1) PC with Windows OEM pre-installed with Key in BIOS.

    2) NOT ONLINE UPGRADE -- but install FRESH brand new RETAIL version of W8 from physical install media on the Bios enabled PC.

    if anyone has done this please let us know if a) it works, and b) what you have to do about the new product key.

    3) Install a NON WINDOWS os on the PC -- any probs there .

    Cheers
    jimbo

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #22


    Windows 8 preinstalled licenses
    OA3.0 will be a online activation method ONLY.

    OA3.0 will be for pre-installed client SKU's only.


    How OA3.0 works:

    The OEMs have two platform servers.
    One is a OA3.0 key server and one a OA3.0 reporting server.

    The OEMs have a master image of windows 8 that has a master key installed.
    The purpose of this key is only one thing: To make w8 to be a pre-licensed version. (SLP channel)

    The key is more like the old XP pre-licensed key. This key is NOT OEM specific, however, it is edition specific.
    Anyway this key does not activate. It is only installed to determine the kind of licensing (SLP).
    Those keys are generic.

    Manufacturing process:

    -The system is built. Manufacturing of complete systems.

    -The system is brought online (online doesn't mean internet, just local network) and the OA3Tool is run (Either in WinPE or Full OS) and it requests a key from the key server, this generates a FULL MSDM table as output it contains the unique key for the particular system.

    - A firmware specific tool is then run (could be in WinPE or DOS or whatever they wrote the flash tools for) which takes the MSDM table file and injects its key into the firmware, to NVRAM, ROMHOLE, or to wherever it is specified by the UEFI or BIOS.
    The flash tool also checks to make sure that if a MSDM table does already exist, it fails.


    The OEM can invalidate and delete a MSDM table with the tool, however, they have to report then this invalidation to M$ via the reporting server and then they can delete the MSDM table and over-write.
    - The OS will be installed.
    - Once that is complete and all testing is complete (no more hardware changes) then the OEMs can run the OA3Tool again.
    This run of the OA3Tool generates the 128 bit hardware hash and reports that ALONG with the product key to the reporting server as CBR, the computer Build Report.
    The tool has the ability to generate the hardware hash when there is NO network connectivity. This has been updated and wasn't possible before.
    The reporting server then reports it (CBR) to M$ which sends an acknowledgement that it has received the Key+Hash. Once it has been received, then the CBR is removed from the PC.
    If any hardware is changed except for external USB devices, and internal expansion cards (PCIe, PCI, SATA) then the OEM has to re-report to M$ a new hardware hash with the key or activation will fail.
    Finally the OAtool is ran the last time again to lock the MSDM table to prevent any changes ever.

    Then the OEMs ship the hardware to the customer.
    The customer turns on the machine and goes through OOBE using the Master OA3 key which is valid for the key check but will not activate by itself.

    Within 4 hours of OOBE finishing the system will automatically attempt to activate by seeing the OA3 Master Key, then reads the MSDM table for the key AND generates a NEW hardware hash and sends both to M$, the M$ servers then check to match up the hardware hash and key and if it matches (does not have to be an exact match, there is slop in there, it isn’t known what can be different) then the system is activated.

    The essential requirements for OA3.0 are:

    - The smBIOS UUID MUST be non-zero
    - There has to be at least ONE MAC address in the system

    If the above aren't there OA3 won't work and will fail.
    with win8 every OEM BIOS has a uniqe KEY and a hardware hash.

    so my ASUS PC OEM bios has a different KEY then your ASUS PC OEM bios.
    even when these PC systems are identical builds.

    the unique key for the OEM system is also stored in a microsoft database that will contain millions of unique keys.

    when i connect my new win8 OEM system then it will automatically connect to microsoft and check if the KEY in bios (+ hardware hash) is the same as the one stored in microsofts database.

    1) PC with Windows OEM pre-installed with Key in BIOS.
    OEM Restore discs (master key) will look for this key and generate hash on install/use (no key needed)

    2) NOT ONLINE UPGRADE -- but install FRESH brand new RETAIL version of Windows 8 from physical install media on the Bios enabled PC.
    Retail system builder (no master key) will ask for install key and ignore OA3 Bios key.

    3) Install a NON WINDOWS os on the PC -- any probs there .
    As OA3 is just a stored bios" key " (and as long as you disable win8 secure boot(until other signed OS's are released)) you can install any OS you want. As you have been doing on any OEM windows 7 install (OEM SLIC Bios table in Bios) Windows 7 used a bios based activation (just with an linked 5 x5 key)
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #23


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    Nice post Aramil, with some good info.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #24


    Orbiting the Moon
    Posts : 2,975
    Windows 10 x64


    Quote Originally Posted by Kat View Post
    Trying to read the product code off of a faded scratched COA sticker is a pain to say the least.

    Yeah, hope I don't ever need to reinstall Vista on the 5735.... you can (just) recognise
    it as a COA sticker, but that's about all.
    Is it that worn off?
    I'll still try to take a hi-res scan or picture of it and then change curves - light/contrast - see negatives or something in Photoshop or GIMP. It usually pays off.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #25


    Posts : 142
    Windows 8 Enterprise 64-bit (7 Ult, Vista & XP in V-Box)


    I'll try that, thanks!

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #26


    Hafnarfjörđur IS
    Posts : 4,376
    Linux Centos 7, W8.1, W7, W2K3 Server W10


    Hi everybody

    However ms SAYS it works has anybody ACTUALLY TESTED THIS with the scenario I outlined about 3 posts earlier.

    We need actual PROOF rather than "How it's supposed to work".

    Please don't get me wrong -- I really DO appreciate the info -- it's ALWAYS helpful and useful so thanks again for the info.

    BUT : I've been in enough I.T scenarios where "How it's SUPPOSED to work" doesn't always mean "It actually WORKS like that in Real Life"

    I'd imagine also that your average "Joe" wouldn't have a clue about how to disable the secure boot in the BIOS if he wanted to install the RETAIL W8 from scratch wiping the pre-installed W8.

    I've been around Windows for some time and I don't know how to do it either. !!!

    Cheers
    jimbo
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #27


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    You might be waiting a while for your answer there Jimbo. I wouldn't think there are all that many people who would want to nuke their OEM Windows 8 for a store bought Retail version. Why pay for Windows twice? Plus, how many have actually gone out and bought a full retail version? I don't think it would be all that many with the 40 dollar upgrade being an option. I can see doing a clean install to ditch the OEM crapware, so you might get part of your question answered.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #28


    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
    I'd imagine also that your average "Joe" wouldn't have a clue about how to disable the secure boot in the BIOS if he wanted to install the RETAIL W8 from scratch wiping the pre-installed W8.

    I've been around Windows for some time and I don't know how to do it either. !!!

    Cheers
    jimbo
    Hi jimbo at work ATM but I have installed retail windows 8 pro (SYS BLD)on an acer e1-571 (came with 8 core) without issue.

    Nb. You only need to dissable secure boot for a non-windows 8 (atm Fedora coming soon) install. Just boot to the DVD/usb and install.

    Sorry buy the title is a bit misleading on this thread. There is no program in the bios that deals with activation just a reference number that master key discs can do a lookup online with to check the hardware hash (like a serial number), and not really any different to windows seven (apart from the fact that as it is now done with a hardware hash as apposed to a key. So more difficult for the Jolly rogers of the world to hack)
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #29


    Orbiting the Moon
    Posts : 2,975
    Windows 10 x64


    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    I can see doing a clean install to ditch the OEM crapware...
    This is actually what I also had in mind, but I busy with a project and don't plan to mess things right now.

    I'm curious about your results.

    I first need to make the OEM factory disks but they force me to use laptop battery for that and I didn't touched the brand new battery. Been on AC power ever since.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #30


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    When I said "I can see doing a clean install to ditch the OEM crapware, so you might get part of your question answered." What I meant was I can see someone doing a clean install..... It will be a while before I own a PC with Windows 8 preinstalled so it won't be me trying it.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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