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Changing Licensing Code

By jbeaucaire ·
I have a customer that has contracted me to upgrade their server from NT4.0 to Server 2003. In hopes of expediting the install I put a copy of the software I had on their machine, last week and install virus protection and user accounts, etc. I picked up their copy of the software today. My question is can I change the licenseing code from my copy to their's without having to redo everything from scratch?

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by ippirate In reply to Changing Licensing Code


The MS licensing scheme is set up for one time registration. In other words, any software key is available for use only one time, volume licensing not withstanding. The concept is one activation per key unless otherwise noted as in a volume purchase. In other words, once its on the machine, it's on the machine. Technically, even backing up the data, reinstalling the O/S with theirs and taking yours out of production is illegal. If you want to get really sticky about it, technically the load that they have on the machine now is illegal as they did not "purchase" the software from the way that you are describing it, they don't own the license, you do.

I wouldn't think that the MS police are going to be beating down the door anytime soon but I would refrain from doing this in the future. If loading preimptively is something that you intend to do regularly then you may want to consider the use of trial software at first and then upgrading when your full copy arrives. This will work with Enterprise server but you will need to research it for the other application/utility/services installations such as Sharepoint, ISA, etc.

Hope this helps. At this point, I would "sell" them your copy as long as you haven't loaded it to any of your boxes and registered it, then "buy" theirs.

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by ippirate In reply to

On further thought. If changing the product key is your intent, try the directions below.

Still to reiterate, I wouldn't make a habit of this as it begins to float into the realm of "questionable" installs and could cause you problems if pressed from the all seeing eye.

Again, hope it helps


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by TheTechMan In reply to Changing Licensing Code

There's more to be aware of:

There are two versions of each Windows version, Retail and Volume License. If you are purchasing shrink-wrap software for your customers, you will need to use the retail version on your initial install. Otherwise, if you are buying MOLP (Open License), you'll need to install the VLK version. The keys are different for both versions. With MOLP, you'll need to go to, log in with a passport(or hotmail) ID and enter the license. MS will generate the key you'll need for the server.

If you change the key, you'll need to be sure you're changing from Retail to Retail, or VLK to VLK.

Remember, the licensing agreement is tight, I wouldn't recommend changing licenses as a general rule of thumb, though sometimes circumstance cannot help it. You'll run into issues when you want to install Service Packs from here on out, as Windows will 'authenticate' your version of Windows, and if the keys don't match, your server will need to find alternative methods for updates... I hope this helps.


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