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Product Key not recognized during re-install RRS feed

  • Question

  • I recently recieved a free PC from my brother in law.  It was previously used at a business that closed down.  I am attempting to install a clean copy of Windows XP Pro on it.  I do not have anything that came with the PC, just the PC itself.  The Windows sticker on the computer says that it was originally configure with Windows XP Home Edition.  However, it was running XP Pro (Sp3) when I got it from him.  Since I didn't have any documentation, I downloaded and ran a key finder to find the XP Pro product key.  I then tried to do the XP Pro install.  When I the product key screen came up, I entered the key that I found by running the key finder and I get a message saying that the product key is invalid.  So, now the computer is sitting on that screen and I can not continue with the installation.  Is there anyway to finish the install and then update the product key with the Windows Product Key Update Tool?  I don't want to have to pay for a new OS, since I have a valid key.  I was thinking that maybe the key that I got from the computer is from an upgrade, but I didn't think there was an upgrade from XP Home to XP Pro.  But, if that is the case, would I then need to find an XP Home disk, install that and then upgrade to XP Pro?

     

    Monday, November 29, 2010 4:07 PM

Answers

  • Hello PamAndJim,

    It's a common mistake for businesses with Volume Licenses to neglect to remove their Volume Licensing installations of Windows, Office, etc from computers that they are selling, liquidating or turning back at the end of a lease.  Not doing this exposes their product keys to "the wild" and gives the end user/buyer the false impression that they are getting a great bargain (when the price of software is included) when in fact they may not be.

    Since you mentioned it's a Dell, here's the link at the Dell website to request replacement Operating System Reinstallation Discs:  http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/dellcare/en/backupcd_form   If friends or family have a Dell with XP Home, any Dell XP Home OS Reinstallation disc would work just fine, they have a maroon silk screen label.

    • Marked as answer by Darin Smith MS Wednesday, December 1, 2010 9:58 PM
    Monday, November 29, 2010 11:38 PM
  • Hello PamAndJim,

    If it's a sort of maroon or burgundy color, yup.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 4:22 PM

All replies

  • Hello PamAndJim,

    You may or may not have a valid product key for XP Pro, but based on what you have posted, for sure you do not have a valid license for XP Pro.  A Product Key is not a license.

    The computer does have a Certificate of Authenticity (CoA) for XP Home, so it is very likely that the computer is still licensed to run XP Home Edition.  Is there a computer manufacturer's name, or "OEM Software" or "OEM Product" printed on the CoA?  Do not post the product key printed on the CoA.

    Monday, November 29, 2010 4:27 PM
  • Out of curiosity, why are you so certain that I do not have a valid license for XP Pro?  I used to sell software and understand the concept of licensing.  At some point XP Pro was installed on the PC (since it was a corporate computer I can only assume that it was via a licensed copy)  Therefore I believe that I do in fact have a valid license for XP Pro.  I will have to take a closer look at the COA to see which version of XP Home is on there.  In the end, it's not the end of the world if I end up using XP Home or Pro, it is just a home PC that will be used for nothing more than surfing the internet.  I may just see if I can get a copy of XP Home (after I figure out if it's an OEM version) and install that.  I know I can get a restore disk from Dell.  But, I do not want to buy it if I don't have to.

    Monday, November 29, 2010 6:10 PM
  • Most likely the now defunct business had installed a Volume License version of Windows XP Professional.  If that was the case, the product key for it is no longer valid as it belonged exclusively to that business and is non-transferrable.  It also required that a Volume License Windows XP Professional installation CD be used.
    Carey Frisch
    Monday, November 29, 2010 7:29 PM
    Moderator
  • Thank you for clarifying.  I thought the license was transferred with the PC, but I wasn't sure.  I guess I will start searching for a copy of XP Home to install.  I should be able to do that and use the product key in the COA (as long as I get the correct version [OEM, etc]) Right?  Also, will I have much trouble loading drivers and stuff once I install the OS?  I know I can get any that I need from Dell's website.
    Monday, November 29, 2010 10:01 PM
  • Hello PamAndJim,

    It's a common mistake for businesses with Volume Licenses to neglect to remove their Volume Licensing installations of Windows, Office, etc from computers that they are selling, liquidating or turning back at the end of a lease.  Not doing this exposes their product keys to "the wild" and gives the end user/buyer the false impression that they are getting a great bargain (when the price of software is included) when in fact they may not be.

    Since you mentioned it's a Dell, here's the link at the Dell website to request replacement Operating System Reinstallation Discs:  http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/dellcare/en/backupcd_form   If friends or family have a Dell with XP Home, any Dell XP Home OS Reinstallation disc would work just fine, they have a maroon silk screen label.

    • Marked as answer by Darin Smith MS Wednesday, December 1, 2010 9:58 PM
    Monday, November 29, 2010 11:38 PM
  • I requested a copy of the disks, but I am not sure if they will send them since I was not the original purchaser of the system.  Also, I thought of using the a restore disk from another system.  I have been trying for weeks to find the restore disk from my wifes computer (also a Dell) which this one is replacing, but have not been able to find it.

     

    In case Dell refuses to send the disks, can I download XP Home and use the key on the COA?  The sticker does not say "OEM" on it, but it does have a Dell logo.  Will I be able to download a version that will allow me to install it?

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 2:30 AM
  • Dell replied to my request saying that they will not replace the CD for me.  So, I am back to square one.  If I can locate a copy of XP Home OEM, can I install that using the product key on the COA?
    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 2:12 PM
  • Hello PamAndJim,

    If Dell refused your request because their records do not have you as the owner of the computer, submit this form to have their records changed:  http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/change_order/tag_transfer?c=us&l=en&s=bsd&~ck=anavml

    Any Dell XP Home Operating System Reinstallation disc (they have a maroon silkscreen) will work just fine in the computer, so try to locate one of these first.

    What will also work is a genuine Microsoft hologrammed XP Home installation disc that is from the systembuilder/OEM sales channel.  This is a hologrammed disc that looks like other genuine Microsoft XP discs, but this one has "For distribution with a new PC only.  For product support, contact the manufacturer of the PC." engraved into the hologram in the upper left quadrant.  This is the ONLY type of genuine Microsoft XP Home installation disc that will accept the product key on the Dell XP Home CoA.  If you go this route, after Setup completes, start the Activation Wizard but instead of an automatic online activation, choose the option for a Telephonic Activation.

    Under NO circumstances should you use a downloaded "iso" file to make an installation disc for XP Home.  These files typically have all sorts of malware embedded in them that gets installed along with the operating system---why would anyone do that?

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 2:57 PM
  • This is the email that I got from Dell:

    "I have looked into service tag XXXXXXX, and it shows that the hardware insurance for a Next Business Day Part Replacement expired 11/01/2009.  Having mentioned this, I am afraid that we can not ship the media.  However, you can call our sales department to order the reinstallation CD's"

    I will have to ask around to see if I can get a Dell disk from someone else.  I just realized that the old computer is running XP Media Center, so that wouldn't have worked even if I could find it.

    I was hoping that I could maybe download a legit version from MS if I provided the product key.  I wouldn't trust a download from some random place.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 3:29 PM
  • This is the email that I got from Dell:

    "I have looked into service tag XXXXXXX, and it shows that the hardware insurance for a Next Business Day Part Replacement expired 11/01/2009.  Having mentioned this, I am afraid that we can not ship the media.  However, you can call our sales department to order the reinstallation CD's"

    I will have to ask around to see if I can get a Dell disk from someone else.  I just realized that the old computer is running XP Media Center, so that wouldn't have worked even if I could find it.

    I was hoping that I could maybe download a legit version from MS if I provided the product key.  I wouldn't trust a download from some random place.


    As you have the MCE of XP you will need the disk from Dell.  Someone else unless it is an exact match for your model won't work as they would have drivers for other hardware installed.  Get the disk from Dell and pay for it.
    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 4:26 PM
  • OK, the saga continues.  I called the Dell sales dept.  and they told me that they don't sell a direct replacement for the restore disks and that my only option is to buy the Windows 7 version for $400.
    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 2:23 AM
  • OK, I found a friend that has a CD that I hope will work.  The disk label reads:

    OPERATING SYSTEM
    Reinstallation CD
    Microsoft Windows XP Home Addition
    1996-2001 Dell Computer Corporation

    Will this disk work?

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 2:56 PM
  • Hello PamAndJim,

    If it's a sort of maroon or burgundy color, yup.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 4:22 PM
  • I will give it a shot and report back here.  Thank you for your help.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 4:40 PM
  • It worked like a charm.  After installing a couple drivers (which I downloaded ahead of time) I was up and running.
    Thursday, December 2, 2010 3:27 AM
  • Hello PamAndJim,

    I love it when a plan comes together! :-)

    Glad to see you were able to get it all straightened out!

    Thursday, December 2, 2010 3:43 PM