HPE OEM Microsoft Windows Server FAQ Series- Part 3: Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity (COA)

Part 3 of the HPE OEM FAQ blog series focuses on the Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity (COA). Read on to learn all about COAs—what they are, why they're important, and what to do if something happens to them.


1. What is a Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity (COA)?
Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity COA) labels are sticker labels usually adhered to a server or to a license card. They are used to help customers identify genuine software. Every OEM Windows Server Operating System (OS) license includes a COA label.


2. What information is included on the Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity?
There are many different pieces of information included on the COA label including: Primary product title, HPE part number, product edition, primary product key, and Microsoft base label part number.COA Label.jpg

3. What do I do if I, or my clients, experience a defective, damaged, or missing COA label on its arrival?
If the server with a defective/damaged/missing COA was purchased directly from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, contact the HPE Call Center. The phone number for the nearest HPE Call Center can be located via the worldwide contact numbers found at Please act during the 90-day warranty period to receive the best assistance with the defective product issue.

If the product was purchased from a reseller (ROK), please contact the reseller for assistance. Note that the reseller can access the HPE Call Center if needed.

If Hewlett Packard Enterprise is assisting with the issue, the HPE support analyst will probably ask that a high-resolution digital picture of the defective or damaged label be emailed for investigation. The picture should have a clear image of the COA serial number and what there is of the product key.


4. How does the new concealment panel on the Windows Server 2016 COA work? How should it be removed to avoid damaging the product number?
Starting with Windows Server 2016, a concealment panel was added to protect consumer product keys from being obtained and used by unauthorized individuals.

**This concealment panel is circled in red in the image below.COA Concealment panel.JPGThe concealment panel consists of a small clear label with removable scratch off material applied to conceal some, or all, of the 25-characters of the product key. When a consumer requires the 5x5 product key, they should remove enough of the scratch off layer so they can read the key underneath.

Correct Concealment Panel Removal: To remove the concealment, use a finger nail or coin to gently scratch the silver surface off
Correct Concealment panel removal.jpg


Incorrect Concealment Panel Removal: Do not use a tool, other than a coin, to remove the scratch off layer. Do not attempt to peel the scratch off layer away. Only use enough pressure and force to scratch the surface of the silver ink.
Incorrect concealment panel removal.jpg

NOTE: Even if all silver material is removed, the clear label will remain. Any attempt to remove or peel of the underlying clear label will result in damage to the COA which may render the product key unreadable. This security feature is by design.


Have a question about HPE OEM Certificates of Authenticity that we haven't covered? Check our Coffee Coaching page on and join the Coffee Coaching community to keep up with the latest HPE OEM Microsoft news and interact with HPE and Microsoft experts.
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Willa manages the HPE | Microsoft Coffee Coaching program. Follow along to learn more about the latest HPE OEM Microsoft product releases and how the HPE Microsoft partnership can benefit partners and customers.