Solved Help locating my XP Product Key

October 31, 2015 at 22:24:17
Specs: Windows XP, Pentium 4/ PC2700
I have a couple of copies of XP and I am not sure which is installed where. I am trying to figure out if I have an available copy of XP to use on another PC. How can I tell which machine was setup using which product key?

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✔ Best Answer
November 1, 2015 at 19:19:23
Recovery disks, like recovery partitions, aren't installation disks and have a key already installed, although I've heard some newer recovery media prompts you for the key on your COA sticker. If you're not getting that prompt then you don't have to worry about supplying a key. As I mentioned in your previous thread many keys on the COA stickers on preinstalled systems aren't registered with MS because in many cases they just use cloned drives instead of individual installations. The product key in the registry may be on other computers of the same model as yours but it's the unique COA sticker that gives you a license to use the OS. (At least that's what I've been led to believe.)


#1
October 31, 2015 at 23:09:09
Belarc Advisor (a freebie utilty) will document the entire installation; recording "all" installed software keys.

Another freebie util is Magic Jellybean which will also out the software keys


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#2
November 1, 2015 at 01:55:52
Hmm well, I used Belarc Advisor on one of my XP machines. I don't recognize the XP product key though. Strange I would think it should match the sticker on the machine. And I'm pretty sure I used the restore CD to re-image this gateway machine since it looks like it has a folder titled "gateway documentation" with the motherboard manual in it. Its been a long time, but I do remember messing around with the install process at some point in time. I was having trouble uninstalling the packaged McAfee or Norton Antivirus and resulting BSOD, and so somehow interrupted the re-install by switching discs midstream to finish the OS install and skip the rest or something along those lines. But the key does not match that CD either. I suppose its possible that somehow skewed the key? Bah, there must be an XP CD around here somewhere. Or is it possible after so many windows updates the Key changes?

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#3
November 1, 2015 at 04:42:17
Windows updates won't change the product key.

You can get a second opinion from magical jellybean or SIW. I doubt they would report any different to Belarc though.

If you have never received a WGA notification on that PC (and you allow Windows to update it) chances are the key is legitimate.

Edit: the product key isn't stored on the install disc. If you possess 2 install discs with the same OS either key will validate the install.

message edited by btk1w1


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Related Solutions

#4
November 1, 2015 at 05:37:49
It can be found in the registry, and there are various gudies to that option. This google list has several..

https://www.google.co.uk/#q=find+xp...


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#5
November 1, 2015 at 06:14:22
There is no key on the XP disc. You can use the same disc over & over again for multiple installs on multiple computers, but you will need multiple products keys. If XP is already installed, use Magic JellyBean key finder.

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#6
November 1, 2015 at 17:54:09
I ran magical jelly bean. It agrees with belarc about the ProductKey. It also tells me that the OS was installed from OEM media and it gives me a productid with OEM in the id string and then states "match to CD key data". CD key data being the ProductKey, which it then states on the next line. I'm starting the think that the recovery CD Gateway sent me is what caused this. Despite what I've heard about there being no product key on the CD's themselves. I know I have run installs from recovery media a number of times for different windows OS and was never asked for a product key. So, apparently it gets one by some means. If not from the CD, then how - Windows update maybe?

Edit: I suppose it's possible I phoned it in, but I really don't remember ever doing that on this machine.

message edited by ISAmad


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#7
November 1, 2015 at 19:19:23
✔ Best Answer
Recovery disks, like recovery partitions, aren't installation disks and have a key already installed, although I've heard some newer recovery media prompts you for the key on your COA sticker. If you're not getting that prompt then you don't have to worry about supplying a key. As I mentioned in your previous thread many keys on the COA stickers on preinstalled systems aren't registered with MS because in many cases they just use cloned drives instead of individual installations. The product key in the registry may be on other computers of the same model as yours but it's the unique COA sticker that gives you a license to use the OS. (At least that's what I've been led to believe.)

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#8
November 1, 2015 at 19:56:13
if there is an OEM in the key, be it within windos registry, or via Belarc, Magic Jelley bean etc. - then it means the installarion is an OEM version.

Any OEM disk will work with that key - usually... (see next paragraph)

However... many OEM disks are tailored to a given brand of computer, and usually a given model. Thus a given OEM disk "may not" always work with computer of a different brand/specs.

The generic OEM disk will work with any computer, and your OEM key ought to apply/work with it.


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#9
November 2, 2015 at 00:19:12
It doesn't look like I'm going to find the smoking gun here. Sometimes you just can't correlate the key in the machine to the key supplied with the installation media. And that being the case, the answer must be that the key in this PC is from the OEM recovery CD sent to me by the manufacturer and not from my retail version.

I'm just guessing at some of this, but does the following sound about right?

XP retail version - (attended install).
The key in the PC will match the key label on the folio for the CD.

XP retail version - (unattended install)
The key in the PC will not match the key label on the folio for the CD, but will match the key located in the i386\unattended.txt file.

https://ehacks.wordpress.com/2008/0...

XP OEM version - (PC Mfg. Factory Install)
The key in the PC will not match the COA key labeled on the PC. This is due to unattended installation by the PC manufacturer using a Mfg. specific installation media or by cloning. But your license is the key located on that COA label.
*However, the Mfg. may have adjusted the key to match the COA label prior to shipping. Or it may match in smaller scale operations where attended installation is done.

XP OEM recover CD - (PC Mfg. recovery CD, either sent w/PC or ordered later)
The key in the PC will most likely not match the COA key label on the PC & may not match the original OEM key either. This is due to CD's being burned and stocked in large but finite batches. Install may be attended or unattended and may or may not require a key. The required key may be included with the recovery media or you may have to use your COA key if asked for one. *This will vary depending on the PC manufacturer.

User created recovery CD
Same as whatever method was used to do the install that the user created the recovery CD from. Keep track of your key, you may need it.

https://www.magicaljellybean.com/ke...


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#10
November 2, 2015 at 14:03:01
The product key in the unattend.txt file on Microsoft XP retail discs is the same on ALL Microsoft XP retail discs of the same type - there's a key for XP Pro & a different key for XP Home. They're generic keys that will allow you to install Windows but will NOT allow you to activate them.

Check your disc(s) for the file. Make sure to un-hide the "protected operating system files" 1st.


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#11
November 2, 2015 at 15:36:17
More info to be aware of.

Retail keys work only with retail disks; OEM only with OEM disks.


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#12
November 2, 2015 at 23:36:50
Thanks, your all your help. Allot of good information here, difficult to select just one as best answer.

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#13
November 3, 2015 at 11:02:18
"Retail keys work only with retail disks; OEM only with OEM disks"

That's true, but if you call Microsoft & explain the situation, they will likely help you out. I know it worked twice for me when I needed to re-install Windows on an OEM system using a retail disc + OEM key.


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