Changing the Windows XP Product Key

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I was working with a quite old inherited virtual machine today (VMs have a nasty habit of getting old and unpatched), and I needed to have SP2 (actually XP SP3 is out now) on it (to install SQL Express, among other things).

The problem was, this VM had a installation of XP, no service packs, using a product key who’s ancestry was, shall we say, questionable, at best.

Of course, I have several valid product keys from MSDN subscriptions, so I’m completely legit. But I needed to get this VM squared up so I could get products installed on it.

In the past, I’ve used a technique I found online whereby you edit a registry entry to invalidate your current activation (and thus force Windows to want to reactivate itself), then you run the msoobe.exe application with a certain command line to relaunch the activation process. Not to hard, but it didn’t work with my legitimate WinXP product keys. I have no idea why not, and there was nothing in any of the messages to indicate what was wrong.

Then I happened across a link to the Windows Product Key Update Tool.

A quick download and it worked perfectly. It properly accepted the product key for XP from my MSDN subscription, updated Windows and reactivated it straight away.

Certainly, a very handy tool to have in the stable!

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