Windows

Video: Change the Windows XP product key

Even in the best IT shops, it's not impossible for a pirated copy of Windows XP to find its way onto the desktop. In this IT Dojo video, Bill Detwiler, TechRepublic's Head Technology Editor, shows you how to change a Windows XP product key with a quick registry hack.

Unless you're working in a geographic region with a high rate of counterfeit software, it's unlikely the Windows XP machines you support will have invalid licenses. However, even in the best run IT shops, unauthorized software can find its way onto the desktop. An end-user may have installed a pirated copy of XP but now wants to go legal. An organization may have installed 100 pirated copies of XP but now has a legitimate volume-licensing key.

When you encounter product key problems, changing Windows XP's product key is often the most practical solution. In this IT Dojo video, I demonstrate a quick and easy registry hack that replaces an invalid Windows XP key with a legitimate one.

If you need to change the key on multiple machines, Microsoft provides two WMI scripts (one for Windows XP installations without SP1 and one for Windows XP installations with SP1 or later) that can automate the process. You can get the code for each script and detailed instructions on their use from the Microsoft Knowledge Base article, "How to change the Volume Licensing product key on a computer that is running Windows XP SP1 and later versions of Windows XP."

Once you've watched this IT Dojo video, you can read the original TechRepublic article, print the tip, and learn more ways to resolve Windows product key problems with the following resources:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

38 comments
172pilot
172pilot

This is great but does anyone know a similar trick for 2003r2??? I have tried the reghack and can't get it to work after R2...

oldskooldj
oldskooldj

I had a guy come to me who wanted to go legit after years of running a pirated version of XP. Like most, it was a volume license (corporate)copy. He purchased an OEM version of XP and I attempted to use this tip (which is described on the Microsoft web site) but it wouldn't activate. Called MS support and spent 45 minutes with them. Finally they determined the OEM key would not work in a VL version. Ended up doing a reinstall. If anyone has ever succeeded at making such a change, please post your story. I've had others ask me about this and the thought of a reinstall changes their mind.

Cheppyyyyy
Cheppyyyyy

OMG Ive been trying to watch this video since last night...Whyyyyyyy doesnt it load fast enough to understand what youre saying...Lo(

gelfling6
gelfling6

I wish I could've seen this AFTER Micro$oft did an upgrade to my personal laptop.. I bought the laptop at a trade show roughly a year ago, with XP-Home pre-installed. Then, 05-11-08, I get SP3 (Yes, Service Pack 3) installed as an update.. Suddenly, I discover the version of XP I have, is a pirated install.. And, it promptly shuts me out! (total lock-down.) Thankfully, I have a 2nd laptop to fall back on, but the new baby is now sitting on the bench, with the HD removedd, and I'm slowly trying to extract ALL of the data. (drivers, data, I can pretty much write-off more than 20% of the programs.. out-dated anyways.) But, imagine my surprise, when I read bits & pieces of this in the newsletter, on my pocket PC. (yester-year tech. A Compaq H3970.) *sigh* too late.. Now, comes the re-install from a NEW (can you believe, they're still charging full $199.99 for XP-Home Full install? the same price they charged when it came out in 2002!!!) *sigh*.... I just wish they could make Linux more user friendly.. and with all the programs you're forced to run under Windows..

mrojas73
mrojas73

I used to be a pro on this type of tricks, I moved beyond Windows a long time ago so I no longer have illegal software issues. I am a Linux guy now.

TheITFish
TheITFish

Bill you need to be careful you might end up on "funniest IT videos"

scott.marquardt
scott.marquardt

What of the case where I may need to change a Retail to an OEM SKU, or an OEM to a VLK? That's a far more frequent scenario in the wild and wooley world of users. In fact, I haven't encountered an outright invalid key for years -- just licenses that aren't what we need them to be.

C0mputaluva
C0mputaluva

I think this was great! Whatever you do, don't stop. The force is with you.

rajuy2r
rajuy2r

i want a specific software which can show or manage my network hosts. what they are accessed and how much bandwidth they are using... please help me send this type software

glenn
glenn

Think about this... If you were given a pirated key from unscrupulous sources, don't you think that perhaps your install media isn't 100% trustworthy? Better to reinstall Windows from known good media.

benton
benton

What we need is a way to get an XP license from a Vista license. I have tried, MS customer service and it seems impossible.

aliwh
aliwh

That is very good. I need it. Meanwhile, does it work the same way if I am using the OEM product key, say for IBM. Thanks. aliwh@hotmail.com

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

In the following IT Dojo video, I demonstrate how to change a Windows XP product key with a quick registry hack. Original post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=116 With the introduction of Windows Vista, enterprise IT shops can no longer bypass Windows activation--as they did with Windows XP. Vista installations must either activate using a Multiple Activation Key (which requires a one-time connection to Microsoft during activation) or through the Microsoft Key Management Service (which let's enterprise IT shops host service within their network against which machines would need to reactivate every six months). If you've used either Microsoft's Multiple Activation Key (MAK) or Key Management Service (KMS) process, I'd like to know if the process has gone smoothly or been a real headache.

edpallo
edpallo

I tried using this tip to change a key on an OEM XP Pro PC. No joy. The regedit change did not de-activate the licence. I even tried removing the entire string and the PC was still active. I finally used a Microsoft tool to change the licence key (found on their "genuine software" site) and that allowed me to change the key. If you review the Microsoft Knowledgebase articles mentioned, they refer to Volume Licencing products only. No mention of changing the keys on retail or OEM products.

tony.sturgess
tony.sturgess

I had that problem and put it down to my company connection. Just let it play to the end while you do anything else then go back to it and replay, it will run OK then.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I'm expecting Tom Bergeron or Bob Saget to show up with my check any time now.

dougmatisi
dougmatisi

I found the video informative & helpful. The bloopers at the end provided some unexpected comic relief as well. Thanks!

jjervis
jjervis

Microsoft has an XP keychanger in their antipiracy toolkit. All you have to do is run it on the machine that's running the bad key and put your legitimate key in. The tool also activates the key during the change process. So why go through all this trouble mucking in the registry when you don't need to?

gary
gary

But we don't get what we want. Why not do some 'research' into the software and hardware out there?

bsunilhr
bsunilhr

I could not find any options to play the video"Change the Windows XP product key " Can anybody assist me please.

fgregory
fgregory

I use this one: http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html The free program is called advisor.exe and like some of the other keycode finders it will show you many of the keycodes for installed software. It also shows the user names for that computer, installed drives and other equipment. Most of the time I use it to discover the make and model of the system board when a customer wants to add ram. Rather than having to make a trip to their office, I can run this program remotely via LogMeIn and get the mobo information and order the correct ram the first time. I'm sure there are many other great tools out there, but this one deserves at least an honorable mention here.

PTCapo
PTCapo

Great tool (Jellybean) - however the latest EXE contains some malware - have your antivirus / Defender running when you launch Jellybean

Robsta
Robsta

I use the jellybean finder to find a Windows XP license before rebuilding a PC both at home and at work. But I also found a great little tool for finding many other serials prior to low level formatting/rebuilding a PC. The Jalape?o Keyfinder Thing (link below). It finds the serials for plenty of applications installed. Then assuming that they began as legitimate installs, you can safely reuse these and avoid that Pirate trap of finding an unused license where a site may have several licenses available, but already in use on other machines. http://www.download.com/Keyfinder-Thing/3000-2094_4-10491989.html Robsta

gary
gary

This article isn't "RE: Video: Disable USB storage under OS X or Windows" - Someone needs to change it! :-)

F___M
F___M

It makes my skin crawl and the hair raise up on my neck whenever a "tech" refers to Volume licensed XP as "corporate".. MS doesn't make a version "corporate", so you might want to refer to it from now on as "stolen" or "pirated".

rakhee1997
rakhee1997

hi i have recently purchased a toshiba laptop with windows vista software already installed. got a 60 day trial of microsoft office which has expired. want to know if anyone can provide me the product key for the same as the original product is expensive. is there any website from where i can download microsoft office for free? i have also entered a product key which is not valid so have to change that as well. thanks

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

To view TechRepublic videos, you must have Adobe Flash Player. If you have Adobe Flash Player, the video should begin playing automatically when you open the IT Dojo blog page that contains the video. Depending on your network bandwidth, the video make take a few moments to begin playing.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

To view TechRepublic videos, you must have Adobe Flash Player. If you have Adobe Flash Player, the video should begin playing automatically when you open the IT Dojo blog page that contains the video. Depending on your network bandwidth, the video make take a few moments to begin playing.

glenn
glenn

Keep looking for a better tool that doesn't contain known malware. Don't run it!! You can't always rely on your antivirus to catch everything. Note to Techrepublic -- wouldn't it be a good idea to remove links to suspected malware?

tony.sturgess
tony.sturgess

keyfinder is good and shows my keys for all ms sw + nero 6 and a couple of others. keyfinderthing3 is better due to it's export options and GUI display, but, it does not show the key for MS Visio viewer which keyfinder does. So I will be using both when I need to, just to verify keyfinderthing3 has picked up everything I want to re-install after any rebuilds.

Bagley5777
Bagley5777

Hmmm..and all this time the edition of XP I bought from Microsoft that says "Corporate Edition" was pirated...LOL. Bummer. ROFLMAO.

PTCapo
PTCapo

Actually they make XP Pro and XP Home. VLK refers to volume licensing which, for all intents and purposes, is only for corporate usage. OEM and Retail are the other two options ...

TechRepublic
TechRepublic

>is there any website from where i can download microsoft office for free? Arrrggggh matie! Didn't recognize you without your eyepatch and parrot on your shoulder... Try http://www.openoffice.org/

mpbaker99
mpbaker99

When I type in; %systemsroot%\system32\oobe\msoobe /a it says it find the file. mpbaker99@embarqmail.com

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