Before you sell or dispose of your computer, you would probably back up your data and then format the drives. But there is something you must do if you wish to dispose of it without uninstalling the Windows operating system. After you back up your data, you should uninstall the Windows Product Key. In this tutorial, we will see how you can deactivate and uninstall the Windows Product Key. Although the screenshots I have used are from one of my Windows 7 laptop, this applies to Windows 10/8 as well.
We will have to make use of Windows Software Licensing Management Tool or slmgr.vbs, which is a command line licensing tool. It is a Visual Basic script, used to manage and configure licensing in Windows OS.
Uninstall Windows Product Key
To begin with, you will need to know the Activation ID of your Windows installation. To view licensing status and Activation ID, open an elevated command prompt windows, type the following and hit Enter:
To get all the Activation IDs for all the installed version of Windows, you can use:
slmgr.vbs /dlv all
The /dlv parameter will display detailed license information for the installed operating system. Specifying the all parameter displays all applicable installed products’ license information.
You may click on any of the images to see the larger versions.
You will see a Windows Script Host window open up giving you details about your Windows licensing and activation status. Here look for Activation ID and note it down.
Now in the same command prompt window, type the following and hit Enter:
slmgr /upk <Activation ID>
Here upk stands for uninstall product key. The /upk parameter uninstalls the product key of the current Windows edition. After a restart, the system will be in an Unlicensed state unless a new product key is installed.
If you entered it wrongly by mistake, you will see the following error message – Product key not found.
If you entered it correctly you will see the message – Uninstalled product key successfully.
Now if you check your Windows activation status in the Control Panel, you will see Not available.
Once you have done this, you could sell or dispose off the laptop and use the Windows Product Key elsewhere, provided its licensing terms allow it. If it is a Retail key, you could do so, but if it is an OEM key, it would be tied to the machine.
Re-install Windows Product Key
In case you wish to reinstall this key, you can again take the help of slmgr. Type the following command in a Command Prompt (Admin) and hit Enter.
The /ipk parameter will install a 5×5 product key. Here ipk stands for install product key. If the key is valid and applicable, the key is installed. If a key is already installed, it is silently replaced. If the key is invalid, an error is returned.
slmgr /ipk <Windows Product Key>
Do note that now you have to use your genuine Windows Product Key or License. It is the 25 character Product Key or Software License that we have to use here. It is this serial that is required during installation/activation of Windows, and proves your ownership. If you did it correctly, you will see Installed product key successfully message.
Now if you open your Control Panel you will see Windows is activated message.
Additional parameters you may find useful:
- The /cpky option removes the product key from the registry to prevent this key from being stolen by malicious code.
- The /rearm option resets the activation timers.
Additional links that may interest you:
- How to find Windows Product Key
- SkipRearm lets you use Windows without activating.