Windows Vista product key problem


I have a vista installation / upgrade disk, but recently have found two laptops with windows product keys that dont work with my particular disk (others have worked fine)

What is the reason that some keys dont work and others do, and where can I get a disk that works with all keys ?

thanks
Europa MacDonaldChief slayer of dragonsAsked:
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waytoomuchtimeCommented:
Hey MichaelGlancy,

Most likely they are different versions of Vista. Licensing comes in all shapes and sizes, there are OEM licenses that are provided by microsoft direct to manufacturers, and they often can't be used with new media installations, and then of course there are different versions of Vista iteslf, i.e. home and business.
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Europa MacDonaldChief slayer of dragonsAuthor Commented:
the disk I have seems to cover most versions of vista,
home basic, premium, business etc

so, if my computer is for example, acer aspire, and a virus has made the original system unmountable, how can I reinstall windows vista ?
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marsiliesCommented:
A lot of PCs nowadays come with a hidden recovery partition to "restore" the PC back to the factory-shipped harddrive image it came with. For example, My Acer Aspire Desktop came with one. So if you don't have discs for the PC, look for how to boot into the recovery partition (usually by pressing a button like F12 at boot).

However, Vista media is not like XP media; there's only one Vista disc for 32-bit, and one for 64-bit, that contain all editions of Vista. Likewise, the disc should work for most licenses of Vista, like Retail, Upgrade, and OEM.

Here's more info on how Vista media and activation works:
http://forum.notebookreview.com/hp-compaq-voodoo-pc/120228-clean-vista-install-no-activation.html

What keys are you trying to use for the re-install? If they're the keys on the side of the case, they're not going to activate online.
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Europa MacDonaldChief slayer of dragonsAuthor Commented:
The key on the side of the case isnt accepted by the vista set up.

what can I do in this case ?
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marsiliesCommented:
I'm assuming you already got all necessary user files off of the laptop drives before attempting any re-install/restore.

What you can do is this:

1) Try accessing the recovery partition and restoring the laptop to factory settings. This way, you won't have to worry about re-installing Vista or activation at all.
2) Try installing Vista without entering a key. Choose the right edition. Then, after it's installed, try activating with the product keys from the side of the case. If they don't work, you can call up MS and get activation over the phone.
3) Before re-installing Vista, grab the product key and tokens.dat file from the computer's harddrive, then re-install and re-activate using these instructions:

http://radiodiatribe.com/2007/06/13/only-got-a-32-bit-windows-vista-disc-with-your-pc-heres-how-you-can-get-the-64-bit-version-installed/
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Europa MacDonaldChief slayer of dragonsAuthor Commented:
"I'm assuming you already got all necessary user files off of the laptop drives before attempting any re-install/restore.
" - Yes thanks :-)

Try installing Vista without entering a key. Choose the right edition. Then, after it's installed, try activating with the product keys from the side of the case. If they don't work, you can call up MS and get activation over the phone.
 - I didnt realise I could do this.

3) Before re-installing Vista, grab the product key and tokens.dat file from the computer's harddrive, then re-install and re-activate using these instructions:

http://radiodiatribe.com/2007/06/13/only-got-a-32-bit-windows-vista-disc-with-your-pc-heres-how-you-can-get-the-64-bit-version-installed/

-- This is fine if I can have access to the system, but often they system just hangs somewhere around the initial loadup. Will try this though when I get the chance. At least I have the phone call option to hand now.

thankyou
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marsiliesCommented:
You're welcome.

Regarding option 3, as long as you can copy the ntuser.dat and tokens.dat files to a different (working) system, you can run the steps to get the product key and certification file from that other PC.
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Windows Vista

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