Windows fails to accept product keys - XP, Vista and 7(!)

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by comradec, Nov 6, 2009.

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  1. comradec

    comradec Registered Member

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    I encountered a problem while re-partitioning my computer the other day, shortly after installing Windows 7, and now I'm unable to reinstall *any* version of Windows on any of the three hard drives in my computer.

    When I try to install from scratch - which I'm only doing because it's proved impossible to reinstall over the top of existing installations - using the Windows installation disks, I'm informed that "Your product key cannot be validated. Review your product key and make sure that you have entered it correctly."

    That specific wording is from the Vista installation routine, but a similar formulation comes up in all three versions I have - XP, Vista and 7.

    I know that the product keys are in fact correct - I've used them before on the same computer - and all of these versions of Windows are authentic, the original disks and purchased through officially approved channels.

    Looking up this issue on the web, none of the scenarios mentioned appear to apply. One suggested for Vista is that the installation disk is pre-service pack 1 and the product key was issued after that, but that can't be the cause here as the same thing is happening in XP and 7 too.

    Looking in the BIOS, everything appears to be normal. And looking at the disks using a boot CD for the two partioning programs I have - TeraByte BootIt NG and Acronis Disk Director 10 - nothing appears to be out of the ordinary. All three internal disks are functioning and their booting order in the BIOS is the same as I had them set up originally.

    My system's spec is as follows: Intel Core2 Duo E6600 @ 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM; Intel Desktop Board D975XBX2; ATI Radeon X1050 graphics; three Seagate Baracuda hard drives (80GB, 250GB and 1,500GB); Microsoft Windows 7, Vista and XP
     
  2. Cudni

    Cudni Global Moderator

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    call MS and let them resolve it
     
  3. Chubb

    Chubb Registered Member

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    Hi comradec,

    I saw you posted in a number of forums asking for a solution. When I searched your error message using google, I immediately found the solution for you for your Vista. It is exactly the same problem you encountered.

    Here is the solution for Vista, directly from Microsoft:
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/947190

    For Windows XP, try activate after installing SP3 and see if the same also holds true for Windows XP, but I have no idea.

    Windows 7 is a new product and I would suspect that, (1) if you upgrade from XP or Vista to Windows 7, and, (2) if XP or Vista has not yet been activated prior to activation of Windows 7, Windows 7 could not be activated too, since Windows 7 could not find an activated XP or Vista during activation, and Windows 7 would fail to activate if your Windows 7 is an upgrade.

    Actually, the activation has nothing to do with re-partitioning or hard disk status. Even if you have changed some hardware, Windows could still be activated unless you have a new PC with new CPU and new motherboard, in which case you have to call Microsoft for a new key.

    PS: BTW, are you installing from the harddisk or from the Windows CD or DVD? Did you copy the files directly from the CD or DVD or by extracting the files from the ISO images from XP, Vista or Windows 7? From the KB article, it was said that "Certain third-party compression programs do not preserve long file names during the extraction process". If this is the case, try using WinRAR. It works for me as I never encounter any activation error by installing from my harddisk. All my installing files are extracted by using WinRAR from the ISO images.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2009
  4. comradec

    comradec Registered Member

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    Thanks Chubb. I'd already spotted the passage you quote on the Microsoft support website, hence my mentioning the SP1 scenario. Unfortunately, though, it isn't applicable in this case.

    Nor am I trying to install from a hard drive location. I'm using the original Windows DVDs and the product key issue is replicated on XP, Vista and 7 disks - all of which are bona fide, official Microsoft installation media.

    The problem is occurring at the product key validation stage of the process, which is slightly different from activation, because this is not done online. Activation takes place after Windows has been fully installed and the user has configured an internet connection. However Windows references the product key number, it doesn't do it via the internet because the computer is not set up to go online at that point.
     
  5. Chubb

    Chubb Registered Member

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    I see what you mean by now. That means, when you enter the product key during the setup phrase, it did not accept the product key.

    If that is the case, first make sure that the product key ties to the correct version of Windows. OEM key cannot be used on retail and vice versa. Just give you an example, just an example to illustrate the possible cause, not to say that this is necessary your case. It is not to challenge you or else, but just hope to find all possible cause by elimination. A user have a genuine OEM key and a genuine OEM media. Somehow his friend gave him an updated media also from Microsoft, but burnt from a genuine ISO from Microsoft TechNet or MSDN, and that media contains a service Pack integrated or without a service pack, and that media turns out to be a retail version or a volume license version. In this case, the key would not be accepted, because OEM key could not be used on a retail and volume license version.

    This example is just for illustration of possible key and media mismatch. If you are sure that the CD or DVD case containing the media and the product key has never been inter-changed, the problem could then be something else. This is not to challenge you, but to find a solution by elimination of possible causes.

    If the media is the same throughout, it is quite strange, since the media would check the algorithm of the key and the same algorithm should applies, if the media and the key has not been changed. One possible cause is the mismatch of key and media, for example, you have 3 media and 3 keys. It could be that the key for XP may have been used for Vista, something like that, as the wrong media may have been put into the wrong CD or DVD case after your previous installation.

    So first make sure that the media and the key ties.

    Most probably, the problem has nothing to do with your harddisk, as you mentioned that it is not an activation problem.

    If you are sure that the media and the key ties, the best solution is to call Microsoft once to check the media and key to make sure that the media and the key ties. Then, you can eliminate the media and key mismatch problem and think of other causes.
     
  6. comradec

    comradec Registered Member

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    In the end I have managed to resolve this issue but I'm still not sure what exactly it was that caused the problem.

    The product keys I'd been entering were correct, and the installation disks were definitely the ones for the exact keys I was using, but I got numerous further rejections of keys from both XP and Vista after I posted my query here before I got one to take.

    The installation operation finally worked only after I completely wiped all content from the first hard drive (HD0) and then repartitioned and formatted it from scratch.

    I had already deleted the partitions on this drive without it making any difference so I can only imagine that something problematic was erased this time round that had failed to be erased the first few times I tried - presumably related to the booting side of things.

    I'm using BootIT NG for its booting functions. I don't use the boot manager in Acronis Disk Director as I've found it to be somewhat temperamental.

    Once I managed to install a working version of Windows - XP in this instance - I was able reinstall Image for Windows on that and restore some of the backups I'd saved on external hard drives.

    But thanks for the replies and advice.
     
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