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Old 08-26-2010, 11:47 AM   #1
mrcaffeinex's Avatar
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Default Windows XP "Full Packaged Product" Key Questions

A customer asked me to re-install Windows XP Professional on their computer. They supposedly cannot locate their original Windows XP Professional cd. Generally this is not much of an issue as most of the computers I end up working on are branded and have an OEM key affixed to the case.

In this case, there is no product key sticker. I used Magical Jelly Bean, a keyfinder, to locate the Windows product key and it reported back as being installed from "Full Packaged Product" media. My best guess was that this means the original install disc was a full retail cd. To test my theory, I used my own Windows XP Professional Retail cd on a virtual machine to attempt to install Windows and use the product key, but the installer states that the product key is invalid. It also does not work with a Volume License image or OEM image.

Do the retail product keys work with any retail image like any OEM product keys work with the OEM image or are they uniquely identified on/tied to the disc itself? Is there a difference between product keys for a full retail cd versus a retail upgrade cd?

Besides the vague description in the keyfinder, is there another way to check what version of the Windows cd was used to install the operating system when there are no product key stickers attached?

Is there an easy way to determine if the product key is in fact a genuine product key without going online and running the validation tool on the system in question? In this case, any attempt to access the internet, even launching the Microsoft Update shortcut, results in a ton of random popups until the system runs out of memory and freezes, which I assume is why they wanted Windows re-installed in the first place.

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Old 08-26-2010, 11:50 AM   #2
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Run Belarc Advisor and Everest ... see what they come up with
Also, you can click on My Computer, Properties .. first tab will
show what is installed (oem, etc) and the SP it is at
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Old 08-26-2010, 12:38 PM   #3
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Generally speaking however... no product key = no windows. He needs to buy a legit copy. I wouldn't dick with it further. There's no way to even know if the keyfinder even hashed it properly and gave you the correct code. besides all that, just having the number doesn't give him the right to use that software, if he doesn't have that software somewhere, with the product key to prove it's valid, even if Windows is operating as if it's valid, he's still using it illegally.

Course, this is just me and the rules I follow when reloading client's machines, others may follow a more strict rule set, others a less strict, me, I don't take any chances.
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Old 08-26-2010, 12:53 PM   #4
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I checked on the system properties, but it did not offer any useful information. It simply stated Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 and nothing else.


I'm thinking your solution is probably the best. I wish I could believe customers, but ultimately you're probably right: it probably is an illegal copy of some form or another. I'm just going to let him know that he has to find his cd if he wants it re-installed or he'll have to buy a new copy of Windows. It is the safest option.

Thank you both for the replies.
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Old 08-26-2010, 01:32 PM   #5
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If the Key utiltiies say FPP then, yeah, it's a Retail Key. It could be Upgrade or Full Install.

Unlike OEM Keys, where there were differences in Key ranges in later OEM product, any Retail Key should work with any (same version) Retail product.

If Windows is still running, you can run the WGA Diagnostic Tool


and send the result to the appropriate MS forum


and they can tell you if the Key has been blacklisted.
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Last edited by RebateMonger; 08-26-2010 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 12-08-2010, 07:47 PM   #6
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What I usually do in this situation is do a google search for the key, if it has a result- it's a pirated key plain and simple. I can't remember when one I googled didn't come back on some sort of list of volume license keys. Still enables you to be able to do a repair install as long as you know the right type of media.
Retail (afaik, it needs to be a retail CD to do a repair install)
In my mind it's not up to me to determine whether or not the customer is a pirate or whatever, we just assume they have a reason to own a volume license. (never the case, but not our duty to track down pirates)
Most of these seem to be "friend of a friend" built PC's they hobbled together a pile of crap full of maxtor drives and ECS motherboards and some sort of CPU that ends in "ron" from a saavy Fry's or Newegg shopper.
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