Windows

How do I change the Product Key in Windows XP? (Updated)

Update Your Product Key: Select Your Version of Windows

In 2003, TechRepublic first published the procedure for changing the Product Key in Microsoft Windows XP. Since then, Microsoft has made the process easier and safer by providing an applet for just that purpose. Mark Kaelin shows you the applet and the new process.

The first step is to go to the Genuine Microsoft Software self-help page, Update Your Product Key: Select Your Version of Windows.

The procedure outlined in this Photo Gallery is also available as a PDF in a TechRepublic Download and as an entry in the TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog.

This gallery was originally published in July 2009.

Images by Mark Kaelin for TechRepublic

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

15 comments
techno0001
techno0001

When i went to get XP u couldnt change it

Gisabun
Gisabun

Why is the first picture [in the slide show] using such an old copy? Doesn't even show Windows 7. :-)

markov
markov

Didn't have 1,000 licenses to do (only a hundred or so), but, wasn't asked for the License key on Any of them. Actually, with Microsoft's Autoupdate, got some calls, about whether this update was legit, and something they should let run, during their lunch break (;->> The Service Packs are patches, to update your already licensed version of Windows Xp. This was a Corporate Volume License agreement from Microsoft. Hmm.. You did say that your pcs weren't preloaded (with OS??). My company purchased computers with OS installed. Still, as I said, you were updating Already installed (licensed) computers, with a Patch, so, why would they stop booting? Activation should only have to be done Once; unless you make Major hardware changes to the pc. It then thinks it is a Different computer.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Also try Magic Jelly Bean which shows serial numbers for most products. Version 1.51 and before can change the XP license key but some AV software considered it untrustworthy because it opens something behind it to make the change.

ian
ian

But why would I want to do this?

HAL 9000
HAL 9000 moderator

If you mean that you couldn't change the XP Volume License key with a XP OEM Key that is Correct. Just the same as a XP Home Key is only changeable with another XP Home Key and then it has to suit your Installation Media. With XP at least you need the same version to alter the Key. ;) Col

HAL 9000
HAL 9000 moderator

You don't need a License Key for any Updates but after a Major Update in the form of a Service Pack is applied it is not unknown for WGA to spit the Dummy and tell you that you have Pirate Software. Well it doesn't quite say that but it does tell you that your Software is not legitimate. Col

Gisabun
Gisabun

Shouldn't be an issue with any service packs or patches with a VL key. Only time it could occur is if the current key was blacklisted by Microsoft [by mistake or not]. I know that XP SP3 would not install if it detected a pirated copy.

Gisabun
Gisabun

AS the odd time a company's volume license key got into the "wild". Too many licenses used. Not enough purchased. I've also see the odd time where a company used pirated copies [by mistake or otherwise].

anonymee
anonymee

That is why you might want to change the product key.

bakulev
bakulev

Do not understand --- what do you mean by volume? Never had some problems due to license of my Win-XP...

HAL 9000
HAL 9000 moderator

WGA reported that the copy was not genuine, stopped every system from booting and I was reported to M$ Legal for providing Pirate Software to a Government Department [i]which I didn't supply anything to[/i] but just cleaned up the mess that resulted from some M$ Rep sprouting the then sales Kit. [b]XP doesn't need Servers.[/b] Which was correct as far as it went but completely wrong in the way that the Customer chose to understand it. The IT Section of the Government refused to have anything to do with this department as they wouldn't listen and I'm not so sure that they didn't Share the Product Key around to every Boy and their Dog but even if they didn't there was something going on there which resulted in every SP causing the VL Key to be renewed. ;) I did get to know the Head of M$ Legal here very well and I still speak to her whenever I have the slightest query on any Licensing Issues. After all if the Head says something I'm not going to get into trouble if she's wrong. :^0 None the less it was something I could have done without initially but it was a good laughing point with the release of SP2 & 3 as they would ring and make complaints before they would look at what they where doing. M$ Legal would get in contact with me before the Department and they had everything worked out and just supplied me with the new Product Key and the Go Ahead to do what was required. We certainly got some strange looks when we turned up to fix the mess up. Bureaucrats you just have to love em and thankfully they have moved to 7 and I'm no longer involved. It makes life so much easier. ;) Col

imsoscareed
imsoscareed

Why did you change the VLK? I've used the same VLK since XP was released on over 1500 workstations on all service packs. There is no need to change the VLK because of a service pack.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000 moderator

With 2,500 Licenses on a Volume License we had to change the XP Product Key when SP1 became available then again when they tried to install SP2 and finally again when SP3 was installed. Well the last time they got in first and we changed all of the Systems Product Key before all of the computers stopped booting. With Volume Licensing you have 1 Install Disc and 1 Product Key and you buy the required Licenses from Microsoft and install that software on the number of systems required. This is for Business and not Domestic Users or Small Business who buy preloaded systems. Of course this is a Double Edged Sword as if you are caught with the products installed on more than the number of computers you have bought licenses for you are in a world of hurt. ;) With Windows if WGA thinks that the Product Key has been Compromised you have to ring Microsoft and get a new Replacment Product key to suit your Install Disc and change the Product Key within the Specified Time Frame or have the system stop booting. Generally speaking you get a 30 Day Grace Period to do something but depending on what if anything happens that can be shortened. With a Domestic user who was on Dial Up several Years Ago they had Auto Updates Turned off and WGA reported the Product Key as Compromised. This resulted after the system stopped booting in a complete Reinstall of the OS and associated software. If you have not run into this previously think yourself lucky. ;) Col