order to install or reinstall Microsoft Windows you must have access to a
Product Key for that version of the operating system. The product key can
typically be found on a yellow sticker on the CD case of the installation CD,
or on a small Microsoft sticker on the outside of the PC’s case (if the OS came
preinstalled on the machine). If you no longer have access to the product key
then you will effectively “lose” a Windows license if you ever have
to reinstall the operating system.
are several methods you can use to uncover a lost product key for a version of
Windows that you currently have installed.
older versions of Windows you can extract the product key from the Windows
Registry. Click Start | Run and then type regedit and click OK.
Windows 95 and Windows 98, browse to this key:
Windows NT 4.0, browse to this key:
there are also some free scripts and freeware software programs that can help
Jelly Bean Keyfinder: This is probably the best tool
for this task. In addition to finding and identifying product keys for
Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP, it can also uncover product keys for
installed versions of Microsoft Office.
This is actually a group of tools that can be used for unearthing product
keys for different versions of Windows.
- Belarc Advisor: This free utility builds a detailed profile of
your installed software and hardware. (As suggested in the discussion
thread by ShadyHouse).
method you use, make sure you write down the product key and put it in a safe
place for future reference.