UPDATE: Information on receiving a COA below is incorrect.  I haven’t had time to update this entry, but I was informed incorrectly by a Lenovo representative multiple times.  In addition, what I received was a power adapter for a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 which is a completely different laptop!  More information is found at http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Windows-8-OEM-OA-3.0-Piracy-Genuine-Microsoft,16636.html

Thank you, Ripper, for the comment and link.

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I received what has to be one of the first batches of ThinkPad X230s with Windows 8 Pro and discovered a problem with the shipment…it was missing the CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY that is always including with most OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) that contains the Windows Product Key for those that install Windows on their own.  There are several reasons why I recommend to do this, the top being cost savings on hard-drives or SSDs (solid state drives) and performance enhancements with a clean install of the operating system with only the drivers and software you need as opposed to the “junkware” (i.e. Norton Antivirus and other trial software) that is typically included.

In my case, the standard operating procedure (SOP) for me is to install a SSD that is purchased separately since it is significantly cheaper to do it that way instead of having it pre built with one.  Case in point, the Samsung 830 256 GB SSD was purchased for $162 from B&H Photo, Video & Pro Audio versus the “180GB Solid State Drive, SATA3″ option priced at $380 through Lenovo.

The new ThinkPads use 7mm height drives versus the typical 9.5mm standard so be aware of this if you’re going to install them yourselves.  The best option currently are the Samsung 830 Series SSD since they are 7mm height, reasonable priced, fast and reliable.  It is an extremely easy process that requires removing 5 screws and swapping the drives out.

Without the product key, you are stuck with the problem of how to activate a fresh install of Windows, in this case, Windows 8 Pro.

The solution is to call Lenovo Technical Support at 1-800-426-7378 and speak to a technician explaining the situation.  Depending on the quality of the representative, it may take some time to understand the predicament.  Once they understand the problem, the solution is they will send a sticker with the product key on it to place on the bottom of your laptop free of charge.  Ironically, documentation from the manual states that this sticker is placed underneath in the battery compartment and there is even a place that fits in perfectly.  I am told that because Windows 8 is newly being shipped with these computers that is the reason for this hiccup and that the production process should be ironed out shortly and the stickers will be included and placed in the correct location.

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