Cатсн²² (in)sесuяitу / ChrisJohnRiley

Because we're damned if we do, and we're damned if we don't!

{QuickPost} Windows 8 Digital Product Key recovery

Recently I’ve started moving over my lab systems from my old faithful Mac Book Pro to a new Lenovo system. After receiving the new Lenovo and booting into Windows 8 pro for the first time, I did what any sane person would… formatted the thing and installed a usable operating system.

After the usual tinkering period and getting everything setup just right, I turned my mind to setting up the various lab VMs I wanted, and quickly realized that my new Lenovo with Windows 8 pro had no license code. No sticker, nothing in the documentation, nothing on the box. Where the F was that little code I needed to get Windows 8 pro running in my VirtualBox lab.

Well, the answer came quickly… it’s in the BIOS. When you installed Windows 8 it checks for a Digital Product Key (DPK) and uses it. Simple, except I’m pretty sure my VirtualBox VM isn’t going to read the key from my BIOS through a thin layer of virtualized hardware (although I could be wrong on that). So, after digging about on the net and finding a whole load of “if you run Windows just do this” type solutions, I started digging around in my BIOS using a few Linux tools (dmidecode and acpidump).

Although dmidecode gives a nice decoded view of most of the data, it didn’t seem to pick out the information I was looking for (still, interesting stuff). In the end I used acpidump to dump the data and comb through it looking for the MSDM section containing my Windows 8 pro DPK.


sudo acpidump -t MSDM

This will output the hex and ASCII version of the DPK from your system





9 responses to “{QuickPost} Windows 8 Digital Product Key recovery

  1. Toomas May 22, 2013 at 19:39

    Did you manage to activate a VM with windows 8 using that extracted key?

  2. ChrisJohnRiley May 23, 2013 at 22:23

    Sure… it would be a bit of an anti-climax if it didn’t work right 😉

  3. Richard Hammond June 11, 2013 at 23:56

    You Genius! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I haven’t got full activation but I’ve installed and updated. This will be sufficient for the amount that I will actually have to use windows. I’m expecting 5-hourly activation screens. Hopefully I can activate by phone if I call microsoft and explain the situation. I owe you a pint ChrisJohnRiley. 🙂

  4. Richard Hammond June 14, 2013 at 14:57

    Oh, and just a followup… Phone activation 100% working. Machine is now much more user friendly because dual boot didn’t work smothly with uefi. Had to swap back to legacy to boot linux.

  5. ChrisJohnRiley June 20, 2013 at 10:29

    You have to switch back to legacy to boot unsigned kernels… although once you’ve installed I believe you can opt to use a signed kernel (might not be cutting edge) and then turn legacy boot off again to increase security. Not tested myself at this point as I need cutting edge kernel at the moment.

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