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How to find the Operating System Certificate of Authenticity (COA) and Product Key for my system?
Published Date : 22 Mar 2002   Last Updated : 28 Jun 2012   Content Ref: TEC10756  


The Microsoft® Windows® Certificate of Authenticity (CoA) label contains a 25-character alpha-numeric Product Key code in the format of 5 groups of 5 characters (XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX).

For Desktop and Tower format PCs, this label is located on the rear of the chassis of your RM computer system. For Notebook systems the label is located underneath the system.

It is recommended that you write down this Product Key on the RM Equipment Log sheet as soon as possible. If the Product Key label becomes destroyed (e.g. picked off the back by a child or becomes so worn underneath a Notebook that it becomes illegible), you will not be able to re-install Windows. RM does not keep a record of the Product Keys used and you will have to purchase a new license if you cannot find the CoA/Product Key.

  Example of a Windows Millennium CoA label


IMPORTANT: For all Windows XP systems, Product Keys should not be mixed between systems. If you have re-installed Windows XP on one system and used the Product Key to Activate Windows, then you must use the same Product Key on the same system again if you should need to re-install again. Do not use the Product Key from one system on another system. Once activated, Microsoft will remember your hardware configuration and the first Product Key that was used and will refuse to re-Activate your copy of Windows until the original Product Key is used.

Unless the product is Activated (either through the internet or by calling Microsoft) the system will not be accessible after 30 days have elapsed. After this time you will only be allowed to activate the system or shut it down.

Office XP suites and single applications such as Word 2002, Visio 2002 and MS Project 2002 also require Product Activation via the internet or via a telephone call to Microsoft to obtain the Activation Key. The Product Keys for these products should also be kept in a safe place or copied, together with a note of which system each was installed on when it was Activated.

Further information on Microsoft product activation may be found on the Microsoft web site:


Possible Issues

Can't find the Coa/Product Key on your computer?
If your system has no CoA label and was delivered before 2000, the original CoA label may have been attached to the front of your Windows Operating System Manual that you received with your system.

Other Useful Articles

How to activate a Microsoft Windows XP system (TEC10739)

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