Product Key / CD key length Office 97 OEM

Posted on 2004-10-21
Last Modified: 2011-08-18
I am needing to know the length of the product key for use in re-installing Office 97, OEM version.

Several years ago, I OEM'd to a client a computer with Office 97 Pro.  This was an OEM CD, license, and case with Key on the yellow sticker on the back, acquired in either 1996 or 1997.  Now after reformat and re-install of OS, she is trying to re-install Office.  But she is saying that "The message on the screen says "please enter the 20 digit CD key.  you can find it on the Certificate of Authenticity."  The sticker on the back has a 10 digit or so key as I recall.

Am I missing something here or is she correct?  I seem to recall that in 96-97 OEM software came with a short, numeric CD key to validate the install.  And that there was no COA for Office then - paper licenses approx 7"x9" printed on cardstock were used.  I don't recall there ever being a 20 digit key used by Microsoft.  Anyone remember what the configuration was for Office 97 Pro OEM Cds manufactured and sold to MS Certified integrators in 96-97?  I've done too many installs between now and then to remember for sure, but since I've never had this problem, I'm thinking something might be wrong in the information I'm getting.
Question by:paulaas
    LVL 80

    Accepted Solution

    Hi paulaas,
    If Office 97 is still running on the computer, then you can get the Product ID from the Help...About Excel menu item (or the equivalent in any other Office application). The CD key is a simple transposition of the digits in the Product ID. Belarc Advisor and Magical Jelly Bean can also produce the CD Key if Office 97 is still listed in the Windows registry.

    On my computer, my CD key and product ID have the values (n, x and y are digit placeholders):
             nnn0-nnnnnnn             CD-key
    xxxxx-nnn-nnnnnnn-0yyyy     Product ID

    The transposition between CD-key and Product ID was to move the 0 from position 4 in CD-key to position 16 in the Product ID. In addition to this, additional digits were inserted at the beginning and end of the Product ID. The last four of these additional digits vary from one install to a reinstallation on the same computer; the first five added digits appear to be constant.



    Expert Comment


    I just had the same issue today.  I was trying to install Office 97 on an old Gateway with NT Workstation.  I used the same 20 digit key that I used to install NT to install Office and it worked fine.
    LVL 80

    Expert Comment

    Your product key is stored in the registry, so if you still can access the old system you can use a tool like Belarc Advisor or Magical Jelly Bean to retrieve that key
    Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder:    The Beta version may be required for Office 2003
    Belarc Advisor:
    Note: Neither of these two products will work on Office 2000.

    If there is no chance to get access to the old system's registry, then you need to contact Microsoft to get a new key. They will ask you for your Product ID, which you can find using the Help...About Microsoft Excel menu item (or any other Office application).

    How to replace lost, broken, or missing Microsoft software or hardware;%5Bln%5D;326246

    **Replacement of CD or Product Keys
    To replace a CD or Product Key, you must contact PSS. To locate the appropriate phone number for your product, visit the following Microsoft Web site:;en-us;cntactms

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