Win XP Key Trouble

Posted on 2010-11-19
Last Modified: 2012-05-10
I had to format and reinstall a laptop and i do not have a image or recovery cd. There is a key on the bottom of the laptop. I used my home retail xp sp2 media disc to install and now i want to change the key from my personal key to a company key. I tried the one on the bottom of the laptop and it says it is invalid this is before trying to activate. I am trying to change and update the key in the telephone activation screen in xp as this unit is not connected to the internet.

I even tried a couple different xp sp3 oem keys that are brand new in the shrink wrap from cdw and they say invalid also.

What could be wrong?
Question by:ATL74
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LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:N R
ID: 34173646
You should call into Microsoft and tell them you formated and now you need a phone activation key, they will give you one over the phone and it will be fixed.

Accepted Solution

gerdawg earned 500 total points
ID: 34173651
The one on the bottom of the laptop is likely an OEM CD key (if it's Dell, Toshiba, etc)

An OEM key will not work with a retail CD installation. Your only option is to find a factory CD with the OEM software on it. Likely if you call the manfacturer of the laptop that you have they will send you one for a small price (Dell does it for around 10 dollars).

There is no other way to make a retail cd install work with an OEM key. In fact an OEM CD does not even ask you to input the key on installation as it reads the OEM manufacturing information from your computers BIOS to perform the install.

Author Comment

ID: 34173732
So i will have to reformat and reinstall with oem media correct? I have that and can do that but my oem media is sp3 and i need sp2.

Will any oem media install with any oem key and will and retail media install with any retal key. The key is not burned on the media in any way is it?

I ask this because when i ued the retail media to install i tried to put a oem key in then and it would not work.
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Expert Comment

ID: 34173755
That's correct, but again the OEM media has to be from the same manufacturer as the laptop.

If you have a "Dell branded" CD of Windows XP you can only install that on a "Dell branded" laptop.

There are other OEM's that will work with nearly any hardware (think newegg/cdw) that would work with the OEM key as well but these prompt for the serial number, which if you have the media you should have.

Author Comment

ID: 34173757
Where could i get sp2 oem install media? Could it be downloaded from somewhere? or purchased?

Seems hard to find. I have keys i just need the right media

Author Comment

ID: 34173777
my oem keys and media are sp3 but they are from cdw they did not come with the laptop. I purchased xp oem versions from cdw just like you would if you were building your own pc.

From my understanding once a oem key is activated it is locked to that hardware forever and can not be moved to a different machine like retail box can. am i correct?

Expert Comment

by:Ronald Buster
ID: 34173801
You can order the disk mediaset at, I ordered them in the past SP2 and SP3.

With XP there is a lot of key mayhem XP Oem SP1 key on SP2 cannot be installed and so on.
With VISTA and Windows 7 the key problem is solved OEM keys work on Retail media and vice versa maybe you can decide to upgrade the XP towards Windows 7 if you cannot buy a disk mediaset at

LVL 78

Expert Comment

ID: 34174067
Is there something in particular that when SP3 is install an application stops working?
The added "security" fixes screw with an application that you have?
LVL 22

Expert Comment

ID: 34174233
you should install sp3 by all means....Lot's of fixes over there...
I do not think any one of your app. will quit working after the installation
of the service pack.Very rare issues....
Did you check for the recovery partition?
But,if you come to purchasing new OS,you should consider windows 7.

Author Comment

ID: 34174557
I have to have xp for specific apps and sp3 does break a couple of them. This is a known condition from the software vendor but they have never fixed it. They just say sp3 is not supported because of this and this is a specific app for specific industrial hardware process control.

Expert Comment

ID: 34175152
You could also use NLITE and slipstream in the SP3 service pack to the OEM media.

Please see -  for the program to slipstream the media.
LVL 78

Expert Comment

ID: 34175784
You would need to look at the updates that make up SP3 and uninstall them one at a time.

Expert Comment

ID: 34176731
Your best bet would be to 'convert' the media that you have into OEM and then reinstall using the new media that you have just created. This would preserve the SP2 installation disk and accept the OEM key.

Ive done this and it works fine.

Expert Comment

ID: 34178835
LVL 62

Expert Comment

by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 34180514
>>now i want to change the key from my personal key to a company key.

Sounds like you'll need the company image or VLK install disk if you are using the Company Key to activate.
If it's a VLK CD then you can simply run a repair/reinstall from that.

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