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product key changing tool saying my key is invalid? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I dunno if what I'm going to ask has already been figured out for someone else, but I've had a search and can't find anything.

    back in 2002 (or 2001, can't quite remember) I bought a computer packaged with windows ME on it.  when xp was released, I went out and bought xp home edition (the upgrade version, since I already had ME on the system and just used the restore discs that came with the computer whenever I had to format, then install xp over ME).  .but two years ago the motherboard died on that computer.  used the usable parts out of that system, and built the one I am running now.  but ever since then I have had to pay people to install XP for me, or install XP over the top of itself, since I don't have an older version of windows on CD anymore and I can't use the restore dics on this system.  so I'd take my computer in, give them my XP cd, and all was sweet.  but the last time I did, which was not that long ago, I had to take it somewhere different, and they installed XP Pro on it.  so my computer decided to update itself the other day and now it's telling me I may be a victim of software counterfeiting. 

    so to try and fix the problem, I found this forum, downloaded that product key changer tool, and tried changing it to my key, but it won't work.  it keeps saying my product key is invalid.  I don't understand, since I bought the thing, and the key is on the back of that envelope thing I got xp in.  I don't have the reciept anymore, or the box, but like I said, still have the envelope/folder thing where the cd sits in, and the product key is printed on the back.  so I'm just wondering why my key doesn't work.  is it because XP Pro is on here, and I'm trying to change it with my Home edition key, or is it because my windows xp is too old, or could it be the fact that I've done many a hardware upgrade since I actually bought it (a second HDD, dvd burner, and other assorted things, including 2gb of ram only yesterday)?

    I'd just like to be able to fix the problem without reinstalling, so I don't have to pay anyone to do it.  and since that copy is fairly old, there's a massive amount of updating to do (especially getting rid of that damn blaster worm!!). 

    ...and if it is my home edition being the problem...well, there's no way I'm spending more money on a new OS either.  don't have that kind of money lying around to spend on things I have already paid for.

    PS: sorry if I provided more information that what was needed to know.

    Friday, May 26, 2006 1:33 PM

Answers

  • Hidingscars,

    You're right, Product Keys for Home and Pro are different and are not interchangeable.

    Your current installation of XP Pro is invalid.  To legalize it one option would be to participate in the Windows Genuine Offer for $149 in the USA (maybe more elswhere).  Another option would be to purchase a copy of XP Pro Upg retail, which would have you insert your XP Home CD as proof of previous ownership.  However, the normal retail price of these is usually in the $179-199 range.

    A third option would be to purchase a copy of XP Pro systembuilder/OEM, and these are normally in the $130-150 range.  I'm pretty sure it would be able to install as a repair reinstallation over top of what you have and not require reinstallation of all your programs and data (but you should always have a data backup for safety reasons before doing any major work on the OS).  If it won't install as a repair reinstallation then you'd have to do a clean installation.  You'd have to offload all data for safekeeping, cleanly install this OEM copy of XP Pro, reinstall your data, then reinstall all of your programs

    A fourth option involves using your XP Home retail upgrade because it is still valid.  This option is the least expensive but would require a clean installation, since there is no way to "revert" from XP Pro to XP Home without a clean installation.  You'd have to offload all data for safekeeping, cleanly install XP Home, reinstall your data, then reinstall all of your programs.

    But, you are in a conundrum because at the moment you no longer have anything from which you can upgrade.  You would have to "acquire" a copy of a previous Windows Operating System CD so that at the proper time, you can insert it when it is asked for by XP Home Upgrade setup.  In my experience Recovery CDs don't usually work for this task, and you may have run across that problem with your Me recovery CDs.  What your earlier computer shop probably did was use a copy of Me or 98  they had laying around the shop when XP Home Upgrade setup asked for a previous Windows CD.  The latest shop took a shortcut around that minor hassle and used a pirated copy of XP.  You need to do the same thing that the previous shops did, use a handy copy of 98 or Me to satisfy the qualifying media requirement of XP Home Upgrade Setup.

    Friday, May 26, 2006 4:36 PM
  • oh okay, thankyou very much for that. 

    I kinda figured there'd be no real way of getting out of reinstalling.  I was just hoping there could be a shortcut...or something I didn't know about :(

    well, I suppose if I must reinstall... I do have copys of windows 95, and 98 still laying around the house somewhere.  just wasn't sure if they could be used.  you can't upgrade from 95, and you need 98 SE as well, is that correct?

    Friday, May 26, 2006 5:19 PM
  • thanks :D I'll be sure to do that so I don't annoy anyone in the future with my problems, haha.
    Thursday, June 15, 2006 6:37 AM

All replies

  • Hidingscars,

    You're right, Product Keys for Home and Pro are different and are not interchangeable.

    Your current installation of XP Pro is invalid.  To legalize it one option would be to participate in the Windows Genuine Offer for $149 in the USA (maybe more elswhere).  Another option would be to purchase a copy of XP Pro Upg retail, which would have you insert your XP Home CD as proof of previous ownership.  However, the normal retail price of these is usually in the $179-199 range.

    A third option would be to purchase a copy of XP Pro systembuilder/OEM, and these are normally in the $130-150 range.  I'm pretty sure it would be able to install as a repair reinstallation over top of what you have and not require reinstallation of all your programs and data (but you should always have a data backup for safety reasons before doing any major work on the OS).  If it won't install as a repair reinstallation then you'd have to do a clean installation.  You'd have to offload all data for safekeeping, cleanly install this OEM copy of XP Pro, reinstall your data, then reinstall all of your programs

    A fourth option involves using your XP Home retail upgrade because it is still valid.  This option is the least expensive but would require a clean installation, since there is no way to "revert" from XP Pro to XP Home without a clean installation.  You'd have to offload all data for safekeeping, cleanly install XP Home, reinstall your data, then reinstall all of your programs.

    But, you are in a conundrum because at the moment you no longer have anything from which you can upgrade.  You would have to "acquire" a copy of a previous Windows Operating System CD so that at the proper time, you can insert it when it is asked for by XP Home Upgrade setup.  In my experience Recovery CDs don't usually work for this task, and you may have run across that problem with your Me recovery CDs.  What your earlier computer shop probably did was use a copy of Me or 98  they had laying around the shop when XP Home Upgrade setup asked for a previous Windows CD.  The latest shop took a shortcut around that minor hassle and used a pirated copy of XP.  You need to do the same thing that the previous shops did, use a handy copy of 98 or Me to satisfy the qualifying media requirement of XP Home Upgrade Setup.

    Friday, May 26, 2006 4:36 PM
  • oh okay, thankyou very much for that. 

    I kinda figured there'd be no real way of getting out of reinstalling.  I was just hoping there could be a shortcut...or something I didn't know about :(

    well, I suppose if I must reinstall... I do have copys of windows 95, and 98 still laying around the house somewhere.  just wasn't sure if they could be used.  you can't upgrade from 95, and you need 98 SE as well, is that correct?

    Friday, May 26, 2006 5:19 PM
  • Hidingscars,

    XP does not consider W95 as qualifying media, but both 98 and 98SE will work just fine.

    Yeah, it's a big time investment to do a clean installation, but look at the bright side...you'll have that backup that we all are guilty of putting off, and the computer will run better, too.

    If your XP Home CD is from when XP was released, you can use a nifty free program called Autostreamer v1.0.33 to integrate the SP2 file directly into the installation CD.  Conventional wisdom says that's the best way to get a smooth XP installation.  Get Autostreamer here:  http://mhtools.knoware.nl/raptor/autostreamer/AutoStreamer.exe

    Get the SP2 file here:  http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=049C9DBE-3B8E-4F30-8245-9E368D3CDB5A&displaylang=en

    Good Luck!

    Friday, May 26, 2006 10:30 PM
  • thankyou again for the help :)

    yeah, I wasn't really worried about reinstalling for backup's sake, since I only took it to get done a few weeks ago.  it was mainly just having to fork out more money for it and the updating part.  but if I can use 98 an that prog, that's just perfect :)

    whenever I used to do an install over the top of windows previously, I'd always have a problem with the blaster worm.  minaly due to forgetting to make a backup of the removal, and my firewall.  but now I have them both safely backed up on a cd, dvd, and my second HDD, so that should be alright (can never have it backed up enough, haha). 

    well, I will get this downloads going and try this all out.  I just hope it all runs smoothly.  thankyou again for the help :)

    Saturday, May 27, 2006 3:51 AM
  • Typically, having a problem with the Blaster worm right after a reinstallation or clean installation means that you forgot to physically disconnect the computer from the internet.  As soon as the computer connected to the net without a firewall the Blaster would get in again.

    The answer is to turn on the Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) before you connect to the internet.

    One of the advantages of using Autostreamer to get SP2 integrated into your installation CD is that the SP2 firewall called Windows Firewall, has tighter settings than ICF and also is set to be turned on by default.

    Saturday, May 27, 2006 4:42 AM
  • I realise I'm rather late in replying but....

    I downloaded SP2 and slipstreamed it with my windows CD.  it installed without a problem and was running fine until...

    the other computer on my home network got a major virus, which made me have to do a recovery of their system, since nothing else I tried worked.  later on, I noticed that somehow it ended up on my machine as well.  so I have just finished reinstalling both machines up to speed.

    the problem is now, the activation tool is saying I've used my product key too many times.  also, people can't send me messages on MSN messenger, usually only when I talk first, but sometimes it doesn't even work then.  and my norton systemworks is acting really stupid and won't update. 

    and, of course, I can't use windows update either until I activate XP.  I did see a telephone number to call, but phones have really horrible issues in this house at the moment, and I mainly want to see if using windows update will help me resolve the problems with norton systemworks and MSN messenger.  I doubt they will, but I swear if I have to reinstall again, I'm going to crack.

    how hard is it to keep something working? never in my 12 years of owning a computer have I had this much hassles. 

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006 4:40 PM
  •  hidingscars wrote:
    so I have just finished reinstalling both machines up to speed.  the problem is now, the activation tool is saying I've used my product key too many times.
    You may not use the same Product Key on two different computers.  Is that the problem?
    people can't send me messages on MSN messenger, usually only when I talk first, but sometimes it doesn't even work then.  and my norton systemworks is acting really stupid and won't update.
    These issues are unrelated to Windows Genuine Advantage, or to Windows Activation.

    The position you are in now is that you need to re-activate Windows.  This has nothing to do with Windows Genuine Advantage, or this forum.  A re-activation just needs one simple phone call, assuming that the online version is not offered.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006 4:58 PM
  • Hidingscars,

    When you get alerted that you have reinstalled too many times or changed hardware too frequently, Product Activation wants you to call in.  Most folks who have done this say it takes between 3-5 minutes to get it all sorted out with the phone reps, as long as you are in keeping with XP's End User Licensing Agreement (EULA).

    As you have found out, almost all current viuses/worms are network-aware these days, and they know how to use a network to spread themselves.

    My experience with Norton AV is that when it is acting goofy after a virus attack, that means the virus damaged Norton and it may need to be reinstalled.

    Before you do anything make sure your systems are clean by using at least two different online scans:  symantec, trend micro, and panda all have good online scanners.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006 5:05 PM
  • no, I didn't use the same key on both machines.  the other machine has restore discs (wish mine still did, kinda).

    oh okay.  what happens if the 30 days runs out, and I cannot find a usable phone? like I said, they are having some major issues at the moment in this house.  need to get the lines looked at.  also our internet connection.  but sorry, got a bit off topic there.  so..yes, if I haven't done it after the time runs out, is it still as easy as that to resolve? I know from experiences before (when not having a phone line or internet connection for months) that after the time, you cannot log into windows.  I don't really mind about that.  just wanted to know how I'd get around it then? would it just be easier to reinstall?

    with systemworks though.... I reinstalled windows, and have only just reinstalled systemworks and it is doing it.  so could that either mean the virus is still lurking somewhere, or that an installation failed a bit somewhere? (either the OS, systemworks, or anything else?).

    but thankyou for the help.  I know it is completely off the forum topics, but I still thought it had a little bit of a place here, since I can't download updates off windows update.  and since I have no close access to a phone.

    edit: I should probably note that I did format this machine, not just installed over the top of windows.  however, like I said above, used the restore discs on the other machine.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006 5:20 PM
  • Hidingscars,

    Product Activation is on a 30-day calendar, if not activated it "goes on strike" and the only thing you can do is get to the activation screen.  Is there a way you can take the computer to be activated to a family member's or friend's home to use their internet connection?

    To answer your question, yes, you could do a whole new clean installation to start the 30-day calendar over again, but I would imagine that would be a real Pain, because to do a clean installation you would have to offload any data to be saved.

    Just reinstalling XP over top of itself will do nothing to correct a virus problem.  And in fact, reinstalling Norton may fix any damage to Norton but until you can declare victory in getting the virus out, the virus will just keep doing the same damage over and over again.  And since the virus is network aware, you have to keep the two computers isolated from each other until each can be independently scanned and cleaned of viruses.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006 5:34 PM
  • thanks for the help :)

    well, I performed another format once again last night (sheeesh, 2 in one night).  but it all seems to be working quite well now.  Norton systemworks is now working properly, and I managed to use my mobile phone to activate (while losting lots of credit :/)

    still not 100% positive that the virus is gone.  all the scans I have done come up with nothing, but I dunno... guess I'm just being paranoid.  ah well, both computers are running smoothly.  so I suppose if anything happens, I know it's still on them.

    again, thanks for the help and information.  would have been nice if I got this kind of help when I rang up to activate. (the person got annoyed because I couldn't understand them fully.  not my fault).

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006 7:38 AM
  • Hidingscars,

    Hey, glad you got it going!

    The web site in my signature is a good place to ask about XP topics, put it in your Favs or Bookmarks just in case!

    Good Luck in the future

    Thursday, June 15, 2006 5:36 AM
  • thanks :D I'll be sure to do that so I don't annoy anyone in the future with my problems, haha.
    Thursday, June 15, 2006 6:37 AM