Strangely enough its been a long time since I installed SQL in production. It’s almost always done by someone on the server team and that’s fine with me, clicking the wizard (or running the install script) isn’t the interesting part. Today though, I needed to add a named instance (also rare) and didn’t have the license key. Silly to be blocked for such a small thing. A quick search led me to this bit of Powershell that retrieved the key after a couple of edits. This script looks like it might avoid the edits, but I didn’t try it (it was second on the search results).
I wonder about the merit of requiring the key to be entered when there is already an existing instance on the server. Probably not worth the effort for such an edge case. Going further though, is there still value in having a license key? I’m not arguing the licensing aspect, just how we do it. I’ve never seen anyone check the license keys. You do an inventory and a true-up and that’s it.