Windows Server 2003 , Asking to be activated after updating to SP2

I have recently taken over as system admin for a small firm. We have a dell power edge server that was purchased through DELL with NO Operating System. It is currently running Windows Server Standard 2003. It has been running smoothly for several months since I have been here. The product key is stickered on the side of the work station.
Last weekend I updated to Service PACK 2. Afterthe mandatory reboot it prompted me to ACTIVE Windows Server 2003. An installation ID was not given at the activation window. I tried updating the Product key to the one that is stickered on the side of the server and it is not working. I can administer the server through admin tools for XP. It is up and running, exchange is running but I can not physically log in to the Server. This is our only server. I created a backup two weeks prior. I was told by microsoft that my only option is to reinstall SERVER. I can purchase a valid product/license but I can not log in to perform the upgrade to 2008.

What are my options? Install 2003 server on another workstation and verify the restore is fine? This is running AD and exchange for us and do not want to lose anything.


also wanted to add that i purchased product key explorer, ran it on the server, got the product key, attempted to update it and did not work.
TYoffeAsked:
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barnesd1Commented:
I take it the server was activated ok as far as you know?  Try starting in safe mode - follow this MS article http://support.microsoft.com/kb/312295
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TYoffeAuthor Commented:
It has been up and running to some time so I can only assume it was activated at some point. Not sure why it would initialize the activation process once more after installing SP 2. I noticed several pirated versions of software being used here at the firm (office, adobe acrobat full, dream weaver). It is possible that server copy is of the same type.
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TYoffeAuthor Commented:
I will try this today after business hours. thanks for the insight
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barnesd1Commented:
Start in safe mode then, get product key and search for it online or ask MS.  I may come up as a pirate one.  If MS are saying rebuild as well but you don't want downtime, you may need to use another machine temporarily - a fairly decent laptop can run as a server from your backup.  Then rebuild the server from scratch with a genuine windows version.
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TYoffeAuthor Commented:
Thank you gents. I purchased product key explorer (which is a great tool btw) and was able to grab the product key. Unfortuantley when trying to update the product it came up as mistyped. I went ahead and purchased a valid license yesterday from CDW.
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TYoffeAuthor Commented:
will I be able to bypass the activation screen if I boot in safe mode?
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barnesd1Commented:
Yes.  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/312295 has a link to Download Guided Help which you might want to try.
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Windows Server 2003

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