Windows OEM keys are usually reserved for PC manufacturers.

However, they are regularly found on sale at unbeatable prices on the Web.

As a result, the Redmond firm is seeking to set up a system for verifying the origin of the keys.

A cheaper solution

First thing, when a user mounts a new PC, he is required to purchase a license key.

But rather than paying 100 or 150 euros to obtain an official Windows activation key, some users choose an alternative and less expensive solution: the purchase of an OEM key.

These are license keys originally intended for assemblers or repairers to install a PC in factory condition.

Clearly, on paper, these keys are reserved for manufacturers to include the operating system in computers.

In reality, specialized e-commerce sites offer them at discounted prices.

On the Internet, it is then possible to obtain Windows 11 for 15, 10 or even 5 euros.

For comparison, Microsoft sells Windows 11 at the official price of 159 euros for the Family version and 209 euros for the Pro version.

An unauthorized alternative

Microsoft does not allow the resale of OEM keys.

The company recognizes this, buying OEM software and installing it on your own new or old PC saves a lot of money.

But according to Microsoft, this is above all "a violation of the terms of the OEM System Builder license agreement".

This text stipulates that manufacturers or assemblers of PCs must install the software using the OEM pre-installation kit, and then resell the PC to a third party.

If the installation of the software takes place on a "personal" PC, then the device will not have a genuine copy of Windows.

Fingerprint verification

Faced with numerous purchases, the American company is currently working on a system for verifying the origin of the keys.

For this, Microsoft wants to assign each OEM key a fingerprint corresponding to the device for which it is initially intended.

With such a verification system, Microsoft would then be able to authorize, or not, the activation of a Windows 10 or Windows 11 key. Concretely, the installation can only be done if there is a match between the OEM key and original hardware.

The ultimate goal of this process is to permanently end the resale of OEM keys on the web.

It remains to be seen now whether this new protocol will have retroactive properties.

Note, however, that this change could revive the mass piracy of Windows.

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