OEM/BIOS Activating a Lenovo X1

I wanted to reinstall a Lenovo X1 portable computer. While preparing to wipe the machine I used ProduKey from NirSoft to extract the product keys for the installed software. This particular machine was sold with an OEM license, for which the product key was affixed under the machine. I quickly noticed that the key printed on the label did not match the one extracted from the machine with ProduKey. That meant that the machine was BIOS or OEM activated.

I now had two choices; I could bring the OEM activation with me over to my new install or just use the key printed on the sticker. The last option would have been the easiest, but that’s not how I roll. So how to “extract” the OEM activation?

A friend of mine had previously gone through just this scenario with a bunch of HP machines so I knew that the activation was dependent on a digital certificate, distributed by Lenovo with the machine and signed by Microsoft. Unfortunately the certificate file had been deleted by Lenovo setup. But the Lenovo recovery partition (Q:) included a WIM file called cdrivebackup.wim. This WIM was used by the recovery system to reinstall the machine in the event a failure occurred. It probably included the needed certificate. But first I had to make the contents of the recovery partition visible so I could easily copy the files to another computer and mount the WIM. This was accomplished by these two commands:

  • echo y | icacls “Q:*” /grant Administrators:F /T
  • attrib -R -A -S -H “Q:” /S /D

I then copied the entire contents of the Q drive to a memory stick and mounted the WIM with DISM on another computer:

  • dism.exe /Mount-Wim /WimFile:h:LenovoRecoveryFactoryRecverycdrivebackup.wim /index:1 /MountDir:D:wimmount /ReadOnly

Now it was time to try and find the certificate (software license certificate have an xrm-ms extension):

  • dir d:wimmount*.xrm-ms /s

This command yielded many files but only the one called lenovo.xrm-ms in the d:wimmountswworkOEM was of interest. I copied the file to a memory stick and proceeded to wipe the machine and reinstall Windows 7. After Windows 7 was installed I created a new folder under %windir%system32oem and copied the certificate into it. Now I could install the certificate and product key;

  • cscript %windir%system32slmgr.vbs -ilc %windir%system32oemlenovo.xrm-ms
  • cscript %windir%system32slmgr.vbs -ipk 237XB-GDJ7B-MV8MH-98QJM-24367

Now, the product key is kind of interesting. This key will be accepted as a valid key by Windows, but will not be able to activate the machine without the certificate file. It’s kind of like a KMS client key, but instead of a KMS Host it needs a certificate. As far as I can tell this key is Lenovo specific so I hope I haven’t infringed on any copyrights etc. by posting it here.


9 thoughts on “OEM/BIOS Activating a Lenovo X1”

  1. Just got a new Lenovo laptop and wiped it before extracting the lenovo.xrm-ms license key. Oops. My product key is the same as the one you posted, as that is Lenovo specific for Win 7 Pro. Do you know if the lenovo.xrm-ms file is machine specific, or just a general Lenovo specific file? I’ve got a fresh version of 7 installed but I can’t activate without the license key, and I already nuked the recovery partition. Stupid, I know. I can probably get a license key from a coworkers Lenovo laptop, but again I’m not sure if each key is machine specific. Thanks.

    1. Hi Chris

      If your machine is a Lenovo PC sold with and OEM version of Windows 7 Pro, you can activate it with the license key on the sticker on the bottom of the computer. If you want to use BIOS activation you will have to get a certificate file (xrm-ms extension) and run the slmgr.vbs command I posted. Can’t tell you if the file is generic of not. The only thing I know for sure is that the cert can be used on another machine of the same type, that is, the same model. Judging by the file name, which does not contain any reference to a model, I would guess that the cert is valid for all Leneovo computers that have BIOSes that support BIOS activation. Good luck!


  2. Thanks for the reply Morgan. Curiously, there isn’t a license key sticker on the machine. This is a ThinkPad T420s purchased direct from Lenovo. The only key I have is the generic Lenovo key like the one you posted above, and using that I can’t activate the new copy of 7 I installed (which was from a retail disc, not an OEM version). I’ll play around with trying to generate a generic Lenovo certificate file. I’m guessing I could get a System Restore disc from Lenovo, but that seems like a hassle if I just need the one little certificate file. Thanks again.

  3. Did you use a retail disc to reinstall Windows 7? Did you enter a product key during install or did you skip that and just did the thing with the cscript-command afterwards?


    1. Hi Michael

      I used a regular Windows 7 Retail disc. AFAIK Microsoft no longer makes OEM specific DVDs for Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2. A retail DVD will accept both OEM keys (the ones on the stickes on PCs) and retail keys (license keys purchased separately). I did not enter any key during the install and just entered the key I had extracted with ProduKey before I wiped the machine. The certificate and the key together activate the machine.


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