I am not too familiar with the software licensing and how this all works, but I have a question regarding Windows 7 and partially Office - generally Microsoft products. I have been asked to assist our IT guy who wants to collect all the product IDs for Windows 7 and Office.

I haven't been given much details how to go about it and how to collect it. After a bit of research I have decided to use a freeware that pulls the software licenses out of the registry. I thought that was the easiest and would provide the most accurate product IDs. I've used Belrac Avisor to obtain all the informations.

It turns out that about 25 machines use the same product key. I have asked if the company has bought a commercial license or something but there isn't anyone available at the moment who could answer my question. I have told the IT guy that there are 25 machines using the same product key and asked if that is alright. He told me to go around and write the product keys from the sticker(label) on each machine. I am just not quite sure if that's the right approach specially that the numbers do not match....

So, now I see that the numbers aren't matching and my question is in terms of software licensing which is the VALID and correct product key to provide if ever questioned about software license? Is it the number on the sticker or is it the number stored in the registry?

2 Answers 2


Corporate licenses can share a key. They're a different set of numbers from those for individual computers. The stickers on the systems are not relevant at all. Belarc Advisor is giving you the actual license#. If they were individual system licenses, they would not all have been able to activate and get updates; do more than 2-3 and you end up having to call MS, and doing so many systems with a single non-volume key is impossible.

Please note that there is a difference between the OEM license & corporate/volume licensing. The OEM license is the one that is associated with a given (single) machine from the manufacturer (aka "OEM"). Volume/corporate licenses come by way of purchase from Microsoft. OEM licenses are for a single specific machine; volume/corporate licenses are for however many system licenses your company chose to purchase.

Here is MS's page on volume licensing: http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/how-volume-licensing-works.aspx

And the MS Faq explaining the different types of licensing: http://www.microsoft.com/OEM/en/licensing/sblicensing/Pages/licensing_faq.aspx#fbid=QlQR7THq-vZ

Note that they call the OEM license a "system builder" license.

  • aw Thanks Debra. I am going to have a discussion with our IT guy about it.
    – user222864
    Oct 2, 2013 at 7:32

If you're using machines that have the OEM version of Windows installed when they come from the supplier than these machines will have the OEM product key installed. That is probably what you're seeing. The license on the side will not work with OEM media but is needed in case you use original media to re-install Windows at a later date.
You will need to manually collect the keys I'm afraid as these will not be stored anywhere on the machine other than physically on the side.

  • Thanks @Joe that makes sense. They are all OEM versions I should have mentioned that up front.
    – user222864
    Oct 1, 2013 at 9:28

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