SLP Product Keys Explained
Several of my apps (and others found on the internet, such as the great Nirsoft utilities) can decode Windows product keys from the registry. If you found this page, I’m sure you’ve used one of them, and I’m sure it has failed you. Here’s the skinny on these special OEM keys…
Your app (d7 or ReAct) is not retrieving the correct Windows product key!
Actually, yes it is! You are probably confusing the OEM or Retail product key with an SLP product key. Typically a PC purchased by a major OEM has the Windows product key on a sticker affixed to the case (prior to Windows 8.) This is NOT the same as the SLP key which would be found in the registry.
What is an SLP product key?
A System Locked Pre-installation key, or SLP key, is a product key that does NOT require activation, and is used by major OEMs (Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc.) with Windows Pre-installation deployments, a special way to install Windows for cloning to PCs en masse.
How can I install an SLP key?
You cannot! SLP keys will NOT install on a standard installation of Windows using standard media (OEM, Retail, Upgrade, Technet/MSDN, etc. etc.) Additionally they may be locked to a particular OEM (ex. Dell.)
The only way you will get a copy of Windows installed using an SLP key is with the original installation media from the OEM, which is usually an imaged based “installation” with all the bloatware on it – maybe except in the case of Dell, which typically will ship Dell branded standard Windows installation media with the SLP key embedded. Point being, you’ll never need to know what an SLP key is, because you’ll never have to enter one during an installation – if you were to be prompted for a key during install, then the SLP key isn’t embedded, and guess what, it won’t work anyway.
What do I do then?
Use the product key from the sticker on the case!
Yes, it kinda defeats the purpose of a product key retrieval utility when an SLP key is in place, doesn’t it? The good news is that if the PC has every had a re-install of Windows from standard media (not the factory install/image media provided by the OEM) then it should have the correct product key installed from the sticker on the case. Yep – that is the ONLY scenario where a Windows product key retrieval utility is useful.