Getting right with Microsoft

Stunning title, isn’t it?

I bought my box used from a guy I know. Before giving it to me, he installed Windows XP Pro using a disk set he had. Needless to say, I didn’t get the disks and MS – quite understandably – won’t update anything; I’m still on SP 1. Well, I’ve gotten nervous enough that I’ve bought an OEM edition of XP Pro on e-Bay. Cost $109 and it’s in an original-looking shrinkwrap package with the sticker you’re supposed to apply to box intact, so I’m reasonably sure it has not been registered before.

My question is, how do I go about changing the product key from whatever it is on my box now to the one on my new copy? This is not something I’ve had to do before. Logic says I just push the disk in and follow the instructions for a partial install, but we all know how well logic and MS get along. I’m not at all confident whether doing so will a) Accomplish my goal or b) Require a reinstall of all my applications and files.

I’d like ‘yes’ on the first and ‘no’ on the second. Can anybody tell me the right way to go about it?

Sure, check out these instructions from MS. They are happy to be “right” with you too :slight_smile:

Apparently not. I went to the site, backed up the registry like they recommended, and put in the registration key. They key was off of the Certificate of Authenticity, a fancy-looking one with a silver tape running across it and everything. The format matches what they suggest, five groups of five letters and numbers. When I click on the button, the Incorrect product key error comes up. Anything else to try short of phoning MS as they want me to do? I don’t think it’s a canceled key or something like that as it’s not going online, it just pops up with the error.

It sounds like your typing in something incorrectly. Double check and make sure the 0’s are 0’s not o’s, that 8’s are 8’s not b’s, etc. Sometimes the font they use fo rthose keycodes can mae some letters look like numbers and vice versa.

Are you sure both what you have installed and the key belong to the same product ID?
Why don’t you try installing the OS from the disk?

This is anecdotal I know, but MS phone support are happy to help you legitimize even blatantly pirated copies of their software. You might have to pay again though if your e-bay key turns out to be non-legit.

Please click one of the Quick Reply icons in the posts above to activate Quick Reply.

It doesn’t sound like the licence you are planning to use will be legally valid, by the way. Windows OEM licences are not transferable to other PCs, and are only valid when provided by the system builder with the PC to which they apply.

Can you provide a link? It would help me at work.:slight_smile:

That was my first thought so I triple checked everything, Re-entered the info, closed down completely and re-entered from scratch – no change. There are no Os, Qs, 0s, Bs, 8s, Is or 1s anywhere in the string. Confusion is unlikely

The MPC on my box is 55274 which your site says means XP Pro generic OEM. There is no MPC on the packaging or the CoA of the bought program. There are stickers saying “Licensed for distribution only within the United States and Canada” and “This OEM software may not be delivered unless accompanied by the required hardware” etc. Sounds like it could be either 55274 or 55285 Your site says, “The mom and pop stores get 55277 for Home and 55285 for Pro. Typically, generic OEM discs (such as 55277 and 55274) will work on these systems, but activation will often fail – you will have to call Microsoft’s activation hotline . . .”

Like I said, I’m reluctant to install anything and risk losing my apps and/or info. Looks like a phone call is in order.

Where da heck did that come from?

From the linked instructions:

Looks like this won’t work with the disk you have. You probably will need to call Microsoft.

Nah, I’ve bought OEM licences for windows (XP and Vista) from reputable online shops (OcUK) without an accompanying system. They’re considerably cheaper than retail licences and I have had no problem with activation. I’ve even transfered one to a new self-built PC, that required a phone call to microsoft support, but they sorted me out without asking for any additional payments.

Nah, they’re not too fussed when you phone them - the automated thing is way more stringent. The OP may well have bought a lemon though - *caveat emptor

  • and all that.

Oh, Microsoft are relaxed about it at the individual consumer level, sure, and will often activate rather dubious Windows installations without any great fuss. But nevertheless, OEM licences bought in this way are not worth anything from a legal point of view.
I just thought it was worth mentioning on a board where discussions of IP violation are normally frowned upon.

Seconding a couple things.

OEM licenses are cheaper, but non-transferable from machine to machine. Many businesses, reputable or not, will sell you an OEM copy without regard to the legalities or licenseability of the product.

Certain MS product support can actually be very good. I’ve never called them for technical support, but I have had to use the phone for licensing issues (swapping out machines with Pro and Home already installed, other builds in remote, net-less locations) and for hardware faults (keyboard of all things). For those interactions, MS was unexpectedly (because, you know, it’s Microsoft) helpful.

Thought to add a cite to the OEM assertion. This is from a MS EULA FAQ (warning: word doc)

The MPC of your CDs can be determined by looking at the SETUPP.INI in the i386 directory on your disc. (Generally it can even be changed to match the destination)

Most likely his initial install was using a corporate or Volume licence version. If it is, the new keys are incompatible with the current install. Windows would need to be reloaded clean from OEM disks to resolve this.

We do this about 2-3 times a month on customers who bring in pirated XP installs.

No. He already answered that question:

If the copy of XP was bought recently, it’s probably service pack 2c. This uses a different set of product keys to SP1, SP2 and SP2b. (Microsoft ran out of product keys!)

You should be able to do a repair install of windows to sort it out.

Back everything up first.