How to find and change Windows product key information

This article contains information about how to modify the registry. Make sure to back up the registry before you modify it. Make sure that you know how to restore the registry if a problem occurs.If you use a “leaked” product key (a product key that is known to be available to the general public) for the deployment of Microsoft Windows XP across multiple computers (a Volume Licensing installation), you may not be able to install Windows XP or later versions of Windows XP or automatically obtain updates from the Windows Update Web site. Some common error messages you might have to deal with include” The product key used to install Windows in invalid”.

Method # 1: Changing the product key through the registry

This article describes how to change the Windows XP product key after a Volume Licensing installation. You can use the Windows Activation Wizard graphical user interface (GUI) or a Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) script. The Activation Wizard method is easier, but if you must change the product key for multiple computers, the script method is better.

1. Click Start, and then click Run.
2. In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK.
3. In the left pane, locate and then click the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\Current Version\WPAEvents
4. In the right pane, right-click OOBETimer, and then click Modify.
5. Change at least one digit of this value to deactivate Windows.
6. Click Start, and then click Run.
7. In the Open box, type the following command, and then click OK.

%systemroot%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a
8. Click Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to activate Windows, and then click Next.
9. Click Change Product key.
10. Type the new product key in the New key boxes, and then click Update.If you are returned to the previous window, click Remind me later, and then restart the computer.
11. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to verify that Windows is activated. You receive the following message:

Windows is already activated. Click OK to exit.
12. Click OK.

Method # 2: Use a script

Included are two scripts. Use ChangeVLKeyold.vbs for machines that are pre Windows XP , ie Win 98, Win 2000 etc. Use ChangeVLKey.vbs for Windows XP based computers that are running Windows XP SP1 or a later version of Windows XP.

ChangeVLKey.vbs

ChangeVLKey.vbs' ' WMI Script - ChangeVLKey.vbs ' ' This script changes the product key on the computer ' '*************************************************************************** ON ERROR RESUME NEXT if Wscript.arguments.count<1 then Wscript.echo "Script can't run without VolumeProductKey argument" Wscript.echo "Correct usage: Cscript ChangeVLKey.vbs ABCDE-FGHIJ-KLMNO-PRSTU-WYQZX" Wscript.quit end if Dim VOL_PROD_KEY VOL_PROD_KEY = Wscript.arguments.Item(0) VOL_PROD_KEY = Replace(VOL_PROD_KEY,"-","") 'remove hyphens if any for each Obj in GetObject("winmgmts:{impersonationLevel=impersonate}"). InstancesOf ("win32_WindowsProductActivation") result = Obj.SetProductKey (VOL_PROD_KEY) if err <> 0 then WScript.Echo Err.Description, "0x" & Hex(Err.Number) Err.Clear end if Next

ChangeVLKeyold.vbs

 
ChangeVLKeyold.vbs' ' WMI Script - ChangeVLKey.vbs ' ' This script changes the product key on the computer ' '*************************************************************************** ON ERROR RESUME NEXT if Wscript.arguments.count<1 then Wscript.echo "Script can't run without VolumeProductKey argument" Wscript.echo "Correct usage: Cscript ChangeVLKey.vbs ABCDE-FGHIJ-KLMNO-PRSTU-WYQZX" Wscript.quit end if Dim VOL_PROD_KEY VOL_PROD_KEY = Wscript.arguments.Item(0) VOL_PROD_KEY = Replace(VOL_PROD_KEY,"-","") 'remove hyphens if any Dim WshShell Set WshShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell") WshShell.RegDelete "HKLMSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWPAEventsOOBETimer" 'delete OOBETimer registry value for each Obj in GetObject("winmgmts:{impersonationLevel=impersonate}") .InstancesOf ("win32_WindowsProductActivation") result = Obj.SetProductKey (VOL_PROD_KEY) if err <> 0 then WScript.Echo Err.Description, "0x" & Hex(Err.Number) Err.Clear end if Next

Example

The following example shows how to use the ChangeVLKey.vbs script from a command line:


1. Click Start, and then click Run.
2. In the Open box, type the following command, where AB123-123AB-AB123-123AB-AB123 is the new product key that you want to use, and then click OK:

c:\changevlkeysp1.vbs ab123-123ab-ab123-123ab-ab123


Method #3: Use Windows Genuine Advantage Self-Help Wizard

Microsoft offers a self help auto tool, which downloads Windows Product key update tool which then allows you to make changes to your Windows installation to update your product key. In addition, the product key update tool will scan a number of key Windows files to determine if they have been tampered with. If tampered files are discovered the product key update tool will alert you before continuing. The Windows Genuine Advantage Self-Help Wizard can be obtained here