Windows

Change the registration information in Windows Vista with this handy tool

When a system changes hands, it's a good idea to update the registration information to reflect the new user. This simple GUI app lets you quickly knock out the task so you don't have to wade through the Registry Editor to make the changes.

When you install Windows Vista, a part of the installation procedure prompts you to enter your name and your company's name. This information can then be displayed in the About dialog box, which you can access by pulling down the Help menu and selecting the About command in any native Vista application. You can also display the About Windows dialog box by typing Winver in the Start Search box or in the Run dialog box.

This is fine as long as you're using the system, but what about when you pass along the system to someone else in the company? Will they want your name appearing on the General tab? Chances are the answer is no.

This registration information is stored in the registry and can be changed by carefully editing the data with the Registry Editor. However, not everyone is comfortable with firing up the Registry Editor and delving into the registry.

That's why I created the Registration Changer utility for Windows 95-XP back in October 2002. After rerunning that article in July 2009 and finding that it was still a popular topic, the folks at TechRepublic asked me if I would update this handy utility for Windows Vista. (Since Windows 7 has not been officially released at this point in time, it is not possible to guarantee that this new version of the utility will work in the new operating system.) You can download the Vista Registration Changer tool here.

Like its predecessor, the Vista Registration Changer utility is an HTML Application (HTA) that combines HTML, Windows Script Host, and VBScript to create nice little GUI application. However, because Windows Vista employs the User Account Control system, running the script-based Vista Registration Changer requires that you download and install the Elevate HTML Application PowerToy, which is a part of the Elevation PowerToys for Windows Vista.

You can learn more about the Script Elevation PowerToys for Windows and the Elevate HTML Application PowerToy by reading "Elevate Privileges Automatically with Elevation PowerToys." To download the Script Elevation PowerToys for Windows Vista, go to Microsoft's TechNet site.

Installing the Vista Registration Changer tool

Once you download the Vista Registration Changer tool package, simply copy its four files to a folder of your choice:

  • RegChange.hta is the HTA file you'll use to launch the application.
  • RegChange.ico contains the icon that the HTA uses for the control menu and the taskbar.
  • RegChangeHelp.hta is a simple Help file that tells you how to use the Vista Registration Changer.
  • ReadMe.txt contains the simple installation instructions.

Using the Vista Registration Changer

Using the Vista Registration Changer utility is easy. Just right-click on the HTA file and select the Run as Administrator command. Once you launch the Vista Registration Changer utility, you'll see the main screen, shown in Figure A.

Figure A

The Vista Registration Changer utility makes it easy to change the registration information stored in the Windows registry.

If you want to see the current registration information for the system, just click the Display button. The information will be displayed in the dialog box.

To change the registration information, fill in the Owner and Organization text boxes and click OK. You'll be prompted to confirm the operation before you proceed. The Vista Registration Changer will then apply the changes to the registry. You can check the results by clicking the Display button. When you're done, just click Cancel or Close.

If you want to remove the registration information rather than enter new names, just leave the text boxes blank and click OK.

That's all there is to it. The Registration Changer makes it easy to edit the registry without fear.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

3 comments
Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

I recently discovered that the link between the tool and its help file, accessed by clicking the Help button, was not functioning reliably. As such, I have updated the tool such that clicking Help button opens a dialog box that provides essentially the same information. The Help file, which is also an HTA, can still be used as a stand-alone resource. If you downloaded the Vista Registration Changer Tool, prior to 8/19/2009 and wish to have the Help button operational, you can download the package again to get the updated file. However, if you don't need to be able to access the Help file from within the tool, you can continue to use the original version of the Vista Registration Changer Tool as the main task provided by the script remains unchanged.

techrepublic
techrepublic

Is the Power Toy "extra part" NEEDED?, or can I force through a change with the basic tool? I don't want to lower my settings so "all" things run at elevated levels automatically. (Or am I missing something?) RickG

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...setting at all. It just allows you to easily access the UAC prompt when running a script. You can find all the details by reading the article "Elevate privileges automatically with Elevation PowerToys," which is linked to from within the article.