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Windows XP OEM Media - "Invalid CD Key"

    Question

  • I help manage a computer shop and we are having issues doing reinstalls on Windows XP OEM PC's using the license cd key on the stickers. "Invalid CD Key" seems to be very popular with all the media we have used. When I use the public MS key to load the OEM software we get it installed ok, but when we go to change the key to make it "legal" we get again "Invalid CD Key". This does nto seem very thought out by MS and we need XP media that works for OEM CD Keys please. We do push to sell Windows 7 and Vista, but as it is most just want their Laptops/Desktops back to the way they were after a virus infection or failed hard drive. Without recovery media and no working OEM media that makes it hard to service them.

    Solution?


    - Bob
    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 9:47 PM

Answers

  • Hello Bob K Brown,

    The product key on any OEM CoA where the second line on the Certificate of Authenticity is "OEM Software" or "OEM Product" will absolutely, positively work with genuine Microsoft systembuilder/OEM installation discs, assuming of course you are matching the edition of the product on the CoA to the edition of the installation disc you are using (Home CoA PK matches only to Home OEM installation disc, Pro to Pro, MCE to MCE, etc).

    The above applies regardless of SP level, with one exception---if you have an XP Pro SP3 CoA, you need to use XP Pro SP3 installation media, as one of the changes with XP Pro SP3 was a modification of the product key algorithm to allow more XP Pro product keys.

    If the above does not seem to be working, there are only three explanations: (1) the installation media is nongenuine (most likely a Volume Licensing disc counterfeited to look like an OEM disc); (2) the product key is nongenuine, and you would only find out about the product key when you tried to activate because that's the first time it gets vetted by a Microsoft server.  Before then any fake PK would just have to fit the algorithm, and any KeyGen can crank out one of those; (3) you are not entering the PK correctly (the letter B and the numeral 8 are very often mistaken for each other).

    Thw systembuilder/OEM installation discs will also accept product keys from royalty OEM CoAs (Dell, HP, Sony, etc etc) for setup, but will as a rule later PKs (about mid-2005 and later) will not activate automatically online.  You usually but not always have to do a phone activation for royalty OEM PKs.

    The product key update tool was developed for one reason, to allow customers to change out a nongenuine XP Pro Volume Licensing Key for the genuine XP Pro key printed on their genuine CoA.  The utility was later developed to work with XP Home, but the utility was never further developed to work with MCE, and it cannot change the edition of the installed XP, say from a bad XP Pro to a good XP Home.

    Your request for "standardized OEM media" for XP is understandable, but it ain't gonna happen---why would MS spend one cent on a product that it no longer sells to fix an issue only a tiny percentage of channel partners are experiencing?  And personally I don't think it's that big of a deal---if you have a  set of systembuilder/OEM SP3 disc(s) for XP Home, XP Pro, and XP MCE (XP Tablet is so rare that I'm not counting it), and a set of retail full and a set of retail upgrade discs for XP Home SP3 and Pro SP3 (that's a total of seven discs), you already have what you need to do a clean installation of any kind of XP you would ever run into.

    This wouldn't be for a shop that is trying to reload customer computers, and I don't know if it is still operational, but MS did offer a Windows XP refurbished product to systembuilders who acquired used systems for resale but could not get royalty OEM recovery discs or did not want the hassle of ordering one recovery disc at a time for a batch of computers.  Here's a link that's still active:  http://www.microsoft.com/refurbishedpcs/Programs/RegisteredRefurb.htm

    Here's another link:  http://www.microsoft.com/oem/en/licensing/sblicensing/pages/refurbisher_programs.aspx

    • Marked as answer by Bob K Brown Thursday, June 21, 2012 2:09 PM
    Thursday, November 18, 2010 5:10 AM
  • Hello Bob K Brown,

    Something that we cannot see in the pic is the holographic printing that is present in that edition of the CoA.  You should see "Microsoft" and "GENUINE" printed at an uphill angle (L to R) when you tilt the CoA on an angle to the slight source.

    Most of the counterfeit systembuilder/OEM packaging and materials that were reported in this forum were actually volume licensing bits counterfeited to look like OEM.  If the PK is nongenuine, there's a pretty good chance that it was KeyGened to fit the Volume Licensing algorithm.  If you start a Volume Licensing installation, does it accept the PK on that CoA?  If it does, it's a nongenuine VLK.

    Friday, November 19, 2010 7:34 PM

All replies

  • Try using the  Windows Product Key Update Tool.
    Carey Frisch
    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 11:09 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for the reply Carey.

    I did try that tool and it also reported invalid key. I also tried the Activate By Phone, change CD Key method and also got Invalid Key. I started thinking perhaps the key is not valid myself as I tried our Windows XP Partner Program Media (SP1), Dell Media (SP2), Retail Media (SP2) [I did not expect to work] , MS OEM Media (SP3) and a few others over the past few weeks. I am actually attempting to create a .wim image for XP for faster deployments but this is proving to be quite impossible.

    It appears that there is absolutely no standard Media vs. License for Windows XP at all. So far we have had to order Recovery CD's from the OEM's but have a few computers in the shop that do not have HP, Dell or similar markings and what I would call White box OEM's. (with OEM License stickers on them of coarse w/no matching media with the boxes) These systems  seem to get scrapped or turned away because there is no way to reload the OS on them because the CD Keys do not work with any Media to do the installation legally, and even if we use a different cd key to do the installation, there is no way to use the OEM key on the case to make it legal, thus we cant not deploy it and must diskpart/clean the hard drive once again.

    We need STANDARDIZED OEM Media that will allow the installation using ALL OEM XP Keys just as Vista and Windows 7 does now. It appears that MS has discovered the error of their ways and has fixed it with the NEW OS deployments, but that does not help system builders and computer shops trying to fix Windows XP installations.

    Is there any way to enter a CD Key in somewhere and match it to the media? How do I resolve an issue like this? I am at a loss.  


    - Bob
    • Edited by Bob K Brown Thursday, November 18, 2010 12:57 PM
    Thursday, November 18, 2010 2:42 AM
  • Hello Bob K Brown,

    The product key on any OEM CoA where the second line on the Certificate of Authenticity is "OEM Software" or "OEM Product" will absolutely, positively work with genuine Microsoft systembuilder/OEM installation discs, assuming of course you are matching the edition of the product on the CoA to the edition of the installation disc you are using (Home CoA PK matches only to Home OEM installation disc, Pro to Pro, MCE to MCE, etc).

    The above applies regardless of SP level, with one exception---if you have an XP Pro SP3 CoA, you need to use XP Pro SP3 installation media, as one of the changes with XP Pro SP3 was a modification of the product key algorithm to allow more XP Pro product keys.

    If the above does not seem to be working, there are only three explanations: (1) the installation media is nongenuine (most likely a Volume Licensing disc counterfeited to look like an OEM disc); (2) the product key is nongenuine, and you would only find out about the product key when you tried to activate because that's the first time it gets vetted by a Microsoft server.  Before then any fake PK would just have to fit the algorithm, and any KeyGen can crank out one of those; (3) you are not entering the PK correctly (the letter B and the numeral 8 are very often mistaken for each other).

    Thw systembuilder/OEM installation discs will also accept product keys from royalty OEM CoAs (Dell, HP, Sony, etc etc) for setup, but will as a rule later PKs (about mid-2005 and later) will not activate automatically online.  You usually but not always have to do a phone activation for royalty OEM PKs.

    The product key update tool was developed for one reason, to allow customers to change out a nongenuine XP Pro Volume Licensing Key for the genuine XP Pro key printed on their genuine CoA.  The utility was later developed to work with XP Home, but the utility was never further developed to work with MCE, and it cannot change the edition of the installed XP, say from a bad XP Pro to a good XP Home.

    Your request for "standardized OEM media" for XP is understandable, but it ain't gonna happen---why would MS spend one cent on a product that it no longer sells to fix an issue only a tiny percentage of channel partners are experiencing?  And personally I don't think it's that big of a deal---if you have a  set of systembuilder/OEM SP3 disc(s) for XP Home, XP Pro, and XP MCE (XP Tablet is so rare that I'm not counting it), and a set of retail full and a set of retail upgrade discs for XP Home SP3 and Pro SP3 (that's a total of seven discs), you already have what you need to do a clean installation of any kind of XP you would ever run into.

    This wouldn't be for a shop that is trying to reload customer computers, and I don't know if it is still operational, but MS did offer a Windows XP refurbished product to systembuilders who acquired used systems for resale but could not get royalty OEM recovery discs or did not want the hassle of ordering one recovery disc at a time for a batch of computers.  Here's a link that's still active:  http://www.microsoft.com/refurbishedpcs/Programs/RegisteredRefurb.htm

    Here's another link:  http://www.microsoft.com/oem/en/licensing/sblicensing/pages/refurbisher_programs.aspx

    • Marked as answer by Bob K Brown Thursday, June 21, 2012 2:09 PM
    Thursday, November 18, 2010 5:10 AM
  • Dan, Your information is priceless. Thank You.

    What I see you telling me is that we can use any VALID non SP3 PK with the Partner Program Media?

    - I am not having this experience so far.

    I am starting to think the PK sticker on my test white box subject is a fake. Is there any way I can test the PK on the sticker to verify it? I will assume the Genuine site does this somewhere. I found this site that shows images of the stickers but nothing that would allow me to verify the key is actually valid. I think this should be a first step BEFORE any installation attempts are made by anyone. It would also be nice if it identified the compatible installation media as well. (dreaming yeah) link: http://www.microsoft.com/howtotell/product.aspx?pID=2abf99cd-a5e4-469c-802e-55ca8ec542d5&cID=ea710cad-37b0-4975-bcd6-abfee19961df&method=oem&displaylang=en

    Our Partner Program Media (SP1), OEM etc. does not work with or allow the change of the PK on the PK sticker I am attempting to use to activate, so if what your saying is true then the PK sticker must be a fake. I will do some more digging and verify it is not counterfit.

    Our end result is to create wim images (MDT2010) for deployment to customer PC's that allows the use of OEM and Retail keys. Any advice making this happen is much appreciated as we do this now with Windows 7 and Vista without any issues.

    We have MANY Dell OEM disks for XP, do you think maybe these disks would work with White Box OEM PK's? Just grasping at anything here.

    Further digging leads me to this statement: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_XP#Product_activation_and_verification

    License and media types

    There are three main types of Windows XP licenses: Retail, Volume (VLK), and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). All three types of licenses are available for Windows XP Professional (32-bit and 64-bit). Windows XP Home Edition is limited to Retail and OEM licenses whereas Windows XP Media Center Edition and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition are exclusively available through VLK and OEM licenses. Each type of license has a different installation CD. For customized or retail media, there is a small difference on each type of disc that will allow that installation disc to accept only one type of product key.

    - So with this statement above from a reliable source, I will need OEM and RETAIL wim images of Pro and HOME 32/64bit editions making a total of 8 wim images. WOW XP is a mess.

    - Bob

    Thursday, November 18, 2010 12:04 PM
  • "Bob K Brown" wrote in message news:69463566-d0db-4a26-bd9b-c54a06bb2a15...

    Dan, Your information is priceless. Thank You.

    What I see you telling me is that we can use any VALID non SP3 PK with the Partner Program Media?

    - I am not having this experience so far.

    I am starting to think the PK sticker on my test white box subject is a fake. Is there any way I can test the PK on the sticker to verify it? I will assume the Genuine site does this somewhere. I found this site that shows images of the stickers but nothing that would allow me to verify the key is actually valid. I think this should be a first step BEFORE any installation attempts are made by anyone. It would also be nice if it identified the compatible installation media as well. (dreaming yeah) link: http://www.microsoft.com/howtotell/product.aspx?pID=2abf99cd-a5e4-469c-802e-55ca8ec542d5&cID=ea710cad-37b0-4975-bcd6-abfee19961df&method=oem&displaylang=en

    Our Partner Program Media (SP1), OEM etc. does not work with or allow the change of the PK on the PK sticker I am attempting to use to activate, so if what your saying is true then the PK sticker must be a fake. I will do some more digging and verify it is not counterfit.

    Our end result is to create wim images (MDT2010) for deployment to customer PC's that allows the use of OEM and Retail keys. Any advice making this happen is much appreciated as we do this now with Windows 7 and Vista without any issues.

    We have MANY Dell OEM disks for XP, do you think maybe these disks would work with White Box OEM PK's? Just grasping at anything here.

    Further digging leads me to this statement: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_XP#Product_activation_and_verification

    License and media types

    There are three main types of Windows XP licenses: Retail, Volume (VLK), and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). All three types of licenses are available for Windows XP Professional (32-bit and 64-bit). Windows XP Home Edition is limited to Retail and OEM licenses whereas Windows XP Media Center Edition and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition are exclusively available through VLK and OEM licenses. Each type of license has a different installation CD. For customized or retail media, there is a small difference on each type of disc that will allow that installation disc to accept only one type of product key.

    - So with this statement above from a reliable source, I will need OEM and RETAIL wim images of Pro and HOME 32/64bit editions making a total of 8 wim images. WOW XP is a mess.

    - Bob


    There is no one image that will work with both OEM and Retail keys - the bits are different.
    You'd need four images, on each for OEM Home, Retail Home, OEM Pro, and Retail Pro. - plus images for MC and Tablet.
    Yeah - that's one of the reasons that MS went to the WIM installer for Vista and up - it allowed a reduction in maintenance costs. One problem with this, though, is that slipstreaming a Vista/Win7 disk is harder, and more restrictive.
     
     

    --


    Noel Paton | Nil Carborundum Illegitemi | CrashFixPC | The Three-toed Sloth
    Thursday, November 18, 2010 1:26 PM
    Moderator
  • Well I have 3 Different OEM CD's for Windows XP and non of them work with this License Key. This PK Sticker looks very real, yet I can't find media that will work with it.


    - Bob
    Thursday, November 18, 2010 2:25 PM
  • That looks like a standard OEM System Builder COA to me - a VERY early one, I think.

    Yoou *are* using standard System Builder disks for the install aren't you? - they should work with that Key, unless it is a counterfeit - and I don't recall too many counterfeit stickers from the early days.

     

    One thing comes to mind - try using a Retail disk. If that works, you can be sure that it's fake, as it will be a VLK key.


    Noel Paton | Nil Carborundum Illegitemi | CrashFixPC | The Three-toed Sloth
    Thursday, November 18, 2010 4:47 PM
    Moderator
  • Hello Bob K Brown,

    Something that we cannot see in the pic is the holographic printing that is present in that edition of the CoA.  You should see "Microsoft" and "GENUINE" printed at an uphill angle (L to R) when you tilt the CoA on an angle to the slight source.

    Most of the counterfeit systembuilder/OEM packaging and materials that were reported in this forum were actually volume licensing bits counterfeited to look like OEM.  If the PK is nongenuine, there's a pretty good chance that it was KeyGened to fit the Volume Licensing algorithm.  If you start a Volume Licensing installation, does it accept the PK on that CoA?  If it does, it's a nongenuine VLK.

    Friday, November 19, 2010 7:34 PM
  • your problem seems to be the fact that it is a generic oem and your discs are branded, you could try googling: tpb 3580548 it is xp mce, obviously the first disc is normal xp pro with sp2, and your key determines if it is pro, tablet or mce for it to ask for disc 2 cmpnents, i can't remember which link it was but a long time ago there was something generic similar to this (it is unbranded), which works on every xp pro / mce / tablet pc, oem sticker ive seen so far.
    Saturday, April 2, 2011 1:47 AM
  • Hello abz2000.com,

    It is a VERY bad idea to download an installation .iso for any Microsoft product (or any product for that matter) from a torrent site.  You have NO WAY of knowing whether malware was injected into the bits before they were put up on the site for download.  The last thing the internet needs is more computers zombied into botnets spewing out spam and rogue antimalware programs.

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 1:47 AM
  • I agree, Dan, you are correct.

    Shouldn't Microsoft, as a responsible corporate citizen of the U.S. and a significant presence and beneficiary of the world wide Internet, provide a simple means for folks in Bob Brown's position, and others, including non-profits re-purposing PC's for educational and other community use, to re-deploy these older PCs without requiring additional moneys that many of them cannot afford.

    It seems Microsoft's position on this is hurting everyone, or driving them to use risky software like found on torrent sites, or try using Linux or other free operating system software instead.

    I have been in a similar position myself, trying to recover machines for no money at all.  Usually there is no OEM media available.  I've discovered that OEM media from Dell will not work with the HP OEM keys, and HP's does not work with Dell OEM keys, and neither will work with unbranded OEM keys.  My default fall-back in these situations is to throw on Ubuntu instead. 

    Sunday, April 10, 2011 8:30 PM
  • Shouldn't Microsoft, as a responsible corporate citizen of the U.S. and a significant presence and beneficiary of the world wide Internet, provide a simple means for folks in Bob Brown's position, and others, including non-profits re-purposing PC's for educational and other community use, to re-deploy these older PCs without requiring additional moneys that many of them cannot afford.

    IMHO, no.

    Nonprofits repurposing PC already have several programs under which they can get free or discounted software from Microsoft.

    Others can participate in the Microsoft refurbisher program.  http://www.microsoft.com/refurbishedpcs/programs.htm

    "It seems Microsoft's position on this is hurting everyone, or driving them to use risky software like found on torrent sites..."    IMHO, B.S.


    Monday, April 11, 2011 2:24 AM
  • the thing is..  every OEM required same OEM installation media ... each OEM got installation media... if your media got dead .. your licensed has been gone according to microsoft pakistan support. well.. media is not recoverable .. and licensed sticker has no worth without same media kit.. any other media will not let you activate that OEM product key.
    Friday, April 29, 2011 6:26 PM
  • My request was based around the fact that we use MDT and were deploying Windows XP on customer PC's with valid COA's. Sometimes we had to use the generic MS key and when we tried to change the CDkey to the one that was on the COA it would fail. "Invalid CD Key" My request was for some sort of work around or a way to make the COA keys work for all XP installations without having to have SP1 SP2 and various SP3 images and then trying to determine what version the COA required.

    We are not a non profit and I would never in a million years resort to torrents or piracy.

    We now tell the customer that we are sorry and they will need to either contact the OEM for recovery media or purchase a new COA.

    Simple enough and that is what we do now. EOL for Windows XP is coming soon so we really encourage customers to upgrade.

    We are a MS Partner and will always do things the legal and correct way they should be done. Enough talk about piracy and torrents.

    Dan from IT Associates has given the closest solution so he gets the the answer point.

    Thanks all for participating.


    - Bob

    Thursday, June 21, 2012 2:11 PM
  • This support thread was created 2 years ago and has been marked an Answered.

    If you have an Activation or Validation related issue, please create a new thread.

    Note: this is a support forum not a discussion forum. If you would like to continue discussing this topic, please do so in the Feedback and Comments forum.

    Thank you,


    Darin MS

    Thursday, June 21, 2012 4:57 PM
    Owner