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Can I Deactivate a W2K3 Server Enterprise License?

Posted on 2004-04-01
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Last Modified: 2007-12-19
Is it possible to deactivate the license registration on a W2K3 Server Enterprise? I'm not talking about uninstalling the OS or wiping the drive. I'd like for the server to go into the "You have 30 days to activate"  routine.

I know that I can call Microsoft's activation department and move the activation, but that requires removing the OS from the computer.

Here's the story: I installed the server OS at a small business I consult for and submitted the bill for payment. I have yet to be paid and I'm hearing that they might hire another consultant. I don't want to take their server down, I just don't want them to "get a free ride" on the software.
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Question by:TerrellITC
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What90 earned 125 total points
ID: 10730766
You can remove your license key from the server. I believe that takes in in to 30 mode.
That would at least ensure that you can't get accused of installing pirated software (software the company has yet paid for, but you've installed)

Follow this through:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;328874
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by:TerrellITC
ID: 10732729
That looks promising, but the article refers only to XP. I'd hate to "experiment" on a production server. Do you know of any other references or have you done this yourself?
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by:What90
ID: 10737024
It works on 2003 server. I've had to do it myself on a number of servers. Saved my ass a couple of times ;-)

It's a common fix and I'm not sure why Ms don't add on the Windows server family to the "it works" list.

A number of other EE memebers use the same instructions too and never had a problem.

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Author Comment

by:TerrellITC
ID: 10738289
Thanks What90.

Should I feel incompetent that a search through EE didn't find such a thread?
Or is it a problem with the EE search engine? :-)
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by:What90
ID: 10738306
Here's two for the price of one ;-)

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/Windows_Server_2003/Q_20915230.html

Most people come up with different titles for product de-activation question, hence the poor search can't keep up with us weird humans ....


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Expert Comment

by:Jerry266
ID: 11404226
I tried the suggestions above for changing the activation code on my W2K3 server but it didn't work. When I run the msoobe.exe - Windows Product Activation,  it says it is already activated. I can reinstall with the correct key but I would rather not have to reinstall all the application software.
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by:What90
ID: 11404359
Jerry266,

Not quite sure what you done, but the method above does work. I've had to do this for a dozen plus 2003 servers now.

I'm guessing you haven't forced the re-activation set - recheck you've don e thfollowing:

Click Start, and then click Run.
In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK.
In the left pane, locate and then click the following registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\Current Version\WPAEvents

In the right pane, right-click OOBETimer, and then click Modify.
Change at least one digit of this value to deactivate Windows.
Click Start, and then click Run.
In the Open box, type the following command, and then click OK.
%systemroot%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a

Click Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to activate Windows, and then click Next.
Click Change Product key.
Type the new product key in the New key boxes, and then click Update.

If you are returned to the previous window, click Remind me later, and then restart the computer.


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Expert Comment

by:Jerry266
ID: 11406736
Thanks for the reply. Yes that is exactly what I do, and have done over and over again at least 10 times.

When I right click WPAEvents I get the string FF CE E0 43 B4 9B F9 FE and I either delete the FF or change it to FE or delete the whole line. Then I exit regedit and run the C:\windows\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a

All that appears is the window saying that Windows is already activated??
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by:What90
ID: 11408089
Hi Jerry266,

Start up a New Question and I'll go through it step by step with you.. If can state which version of 2003 server you have and if it's a trial copy, that'll really help.

I'm sure it's something annoyingly obvious :-)
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Expert Comment

by:Jerry266
ID: 11412244
Hi What90;

I have Windows 2003 Server, Enterprise Edition, Not for Resale but to my knowledge a full copy, not a trial copy.

I have tried rebooting the server, logging in locally at the server and using Remote Desktop - no luck.
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by:What90
ID: 11412494
I've actually delete half of the string in WPAEvents by right clicking on Modify option

Then ran  C:\windows\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a

Works fine on Standard and should work with out issues on Enterprise, but will double check later this evening.

As long as the account you're using has permission to make changes to the registry (should be at least local Admin) this should be behaving itself.
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by:Jerry266
ID: 11413186
Tried deleting half of the string - didn't work.

I don't know if this means anything but the changes I make to OOBETimer are removed if I log out and back in again. If I go back to Regedit after I make changes but do not log out the edits are still there.
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by:What90
ID: 11413261
Once you make the changes in the registry that should be it. Any modifications are immediate and permant - sounds like you don't have permissions to edit that part of the Registy.

Can you check that you have permissions to those keys (right click - permissions)?
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Expert Comment

by:Jerry266
ID: 11417197
I checked permissions and the administrators group had full control, read and special permissions. Administrator and Creator Owner did not have full control or read and I couldn't change them?? I created a local user, made them a member of Power Users (made Power Users and Terminal Server User have full control) then logged in via terminal server as that user, deleted a line from OOBETimer - exited from Regedit (anyway to specifically save?) but the same screen came up saying that Windows is already activated and if I log in again the old string is still there unchanged.
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by:Jerry266
ID: 11420978
I tried on my volume license, STANDARD edition server and was able to get the activate windows screen no problem. Here however, I could not put in our site license key in the Activate Windows screen and the Telephone... screen would only accept numbers no alpha numeric codes that are used with a standard activation. What codes did you use? Complete numeric from MS or the alpha numeric codes that come with the license?
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by:What90
ID: 11421845
Hi Jerry,

We here have a number of keys - from stand alone to Enterprise (for different client needs) and so far I haven't encountered any problems. The alpha numeric code should work fine, as that what the keys are. I've never seen any pure numeric ativation codes for 2003.

I'd suggest you get the key code verified with your reseller to ensure it's okay. Please don't post it here or email it to me!

Let me know how you go.
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Expert Comment

by:Jerry266
ID: 11422727
Like yourself, I have tested these keys on other servers and they work fine. It is just trying to change an existing installation to a different key code so I don't have to re-install the software that makes me want to try and change the codes on an existing installation.

When I choose Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to activate Windows - the code here is only for straight numbers - any alpha numerics will be rejected with the message - numbers only. The alpha-numeric is rejected when I try the non-telephone a customer ... and try to activate with the same number as was used to activate the server in the first place.

Looks like this is a no-go and I'll have to re-do the whole installation. Thanks for trying!
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