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W2K3 SBS non-destructive repair reinstall rejects original product key

We have an existing W2K3 SBS running on aging hardware. We want to migrate to a newer Intel-based server platform. We are able to clone-image the existing W2K3sbs [which is still running in the production environment] to another disk. The other disk we are able to use in a 'sandbox' environment to successfully address any problems experienced in the migration on the new hardware.

We have successfully created a "slipstreamed" install CD with all the appropriate drivers and have been able to run the slipstreamed W2K3 SBS SP2 w drivers CD on the new hardware and have selected the non-destructive reinstall option to "repair" the installation.

The first iteration of repair-install went smoothly.

Upon the second iteration, which shows the typical splash-screen-countdown of 'setup will be completed in 39 minutes' etc-- the prompt-pages appear for the insertion of the product key.

We have entered the original product key from the original OEM box and license certificate, but the response is: "The CD key you entered is not valid."

The old-existing system is still running in the production environment and we have verified using ProduKey that we are, in fact, entering the correct key. Also on the existing system, we have used the msoobe.exe to confirm that the old-existing system is activated.

Question: on the new hardware-install, how do we get passed the error?

Since the "repair" is pulling its info from the 'repaired' registry, this would indicate that there is something wrong with the old-existing system's product key, even though it is running fine, and ProduKey confirms that the key is the same sequence of characters that are on our license.

There are instructions on the internet on how to reset a Windows XP's product key using msoobe.exe and editing the WPAEvents area of the local registry-- but does this method work in a W2K3 SBS environment?

All that being said-- the real issue is how to get passed the "The CD key you entered is not valid." error when the key we have is in fact the correct key.
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WLolli
Asked:
WLolli
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3 Solutions
 
WLolliAuthor Commented:
One more item. It has come into my thinking that somehow, perhaps, the registry permissions in some hive that is elemental to the product key structure have somehow changed, thereby preventing the acceptance of a product key.

On the existing production server, I made a backup and exported the WPAevents hive, then modified the numbers in the OOBETimer key. the changes were saved, and msoobe.exe was run-- but the msoobe.exe app said that I was still activated. This is strange, in that if this were XP, I should have been evoked to change my key.
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
If i understand you correctly, you are installing on new hardware? You can not use the OEM KEY on different hardware, it is against the licence terms and therefore ilegal.
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WLolliAuthor Commented:
What if a new retail license was acquired and applied?
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WLolliAuthor Commented:
Thank you, Neilsr for your response.

However, over night we took our production server offline, imaged it to another drive for testing on itself, and tried to run the w2k3 cd install-repair on itself [original oem hardware for which we are licensed] and we are able to duplicate the same issue-- ie, during the second iteration, when prompted for the cd product key, we enter the correct, original key and it is returned as invalid.

Therefore, illegally of our original objectives aside, on the legal original setup, the problem remains.

Issues of the legality of licensing can be overcome by purchasing the correct licensing for new hardware, but we wish to not have to destroy our production environment AD DC to do it.
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
The correct method of migrating 2003 SBS to new hardware is documented in full here.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc747454(WS.10).aspx

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WLolliAuthor Commented:
Thank you. The link to the correct procedure will be helpful for the migration, however, regarding the previous night's test resulting in the failure of the original product key being accepted, we are guessing that there may be a problem in the registry or some mechanism by which the product key is stored for validation in the case of the repair-procedure-- thus our concerns and the original problem remain.
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
It maybe possible, I have seen with other windows OS's, that a repair install is not possible from orriginal meda due to the application of service packs etc on the running system. The orriginal media should be though, fine for a fresh install.  Maybe demazter will pop up and let you know if he is about, he's da man! :P

You will find that you cant for example do a repair install of XP from a pre service pack 2 CD on a system that has SP3 installed. Never tried with SBS tbh. Migration is the way.
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
Another quick thought, has your SBS been upgraded to R2 and you r install media is not R2 and your Key is the original version key?
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WLolliAuthor Commented:
Thanks Neilsr. I am now offsite but will have someone check the media, as to its being R2 or not. As to the SP factors, the original CD is a non-SP-applied CD. We used nLite's slipstream app to slipstream the SP2 and add the required drivers so that the 1st iteration-install process did not bless us with the BSofDeath; which it would have if attempts would have been made otherwise.

Intel mb S1200BTL requires a min of SP2 and its drivers embedded for the auto-detecting SATA 3gbps / 6gbps ports to properly auto-detect upon raw-install and not result in an 0x0000007B BSD.
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WLolliAuthor Commented:
Some progress or rather insight--
We just now took the slipstreamed-to-SP2 CD, which was derived fromthe original CD, and tried to install a fresh, blank, vanilla install on a the new OEM hardware.
Results: 1st iteration, fine; second iteration request to validate original CD Product Key failed as invalid.

This is interesting. this means that -- in the case of our original Intel OEM hardware-- even if we WANTED to run a non-destructive reinstall-repair on the original hardware, we are prevented from doing so by virtue of the fact that:
a) the original CD would not be able to run install-repair because the OS has already been altered by having SP2 applied to the active OS, and
b) if we slipstreamed the original CD to SP2, the CD Key is not acceptable to the install-repair process.

Any work arounds to this, anyone?
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WLolliAuthor Commented:
OK - so after some more thnking--

Is the answer here to acquire a Microsoft Retail version of W2K3 SBS R2 SP2 and then try to run the reinstall-repair? If so:
a) is this the right one to choose? Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 Standard (UPGRADE) 5 Client T72-01415
If the retail upgrade is used, is a prod key provided, or do I use the original CD Product Key from the original CD?

b) or this:
T72-01503 Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition - Media Only Volume
 -- and will our original CD Product Keys work on this media only version?
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
If your going that way, to new hardware + Upgrade etc... Why not go to SBS 2011 and futureproof?
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
When you get to slipstreaming, vs original install, and OEM, you can have all sorts of activation and key acceptance issues, due to licensing seeing changes from the original install configuration. You best bet is always to contact Microsoft. Any time I have done so, so long as you are meeting the licensing requirements, they have been extremely helpful and in some cases even provided a working key.
Keep in mind though OEM, as mentioned, cannot be installed on other hardware and to the best of my knowledge a retail or Volume license key will not work on an OEM install. One of the reasons why in the long run, non-OEM licensing can save you money.
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WLolliAuthor Commented:
Neil's Q:
If your going that way, to new hardware + Upgrade etc... Why not go to SBS 2011 and futureproof?

Answer:
ROI. at present there is no compelling business reason to spend that kind of money.
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WLolliAuthor Commented:
RobWill. Thanks.
I will try to call MS.

But to clarify, you are saying that a retail R2 upgrade will most likely not work on an existing OEM install when treated as a non-destructive repair?
If that is so, then there are simply no repair options for an OEM licensed installation after SP2 is applied...
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
The licensing cost would be similar except CAL's, but more importantly you may not be able to find a copy of SBS 2003. It has been discontinued for 4 years.
You may be able to buy a Volume license with downgrade rights to 2003. I am not sure if that is still possible, it was. That way you can yous the 2011 license in the future. However as mentioned I don't think a volume license key will be accepted on an OEM install.
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
I hate ROI :(
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
>>"If that is so, then there are simply no repair options for an OEM licensed installation after SP2 is applied"
Backup and restore, to the same hardware, or slightly changed, should work without re-activating or installing the key. Slightly changed means no more than 3 component changes and the HAL is identical (i.e. same motherboard)
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
People are often upset about the limitations of their licensing, however those limitations always seem very unimportant at the time of purchase. I am probably as guilty as the next guy. The OEM licenses are designed to try to prevent you from thwarting the original agreement.

A slipstreamed OEM CD will not work. It must be the original CD.
To restore and SBS server you must create exactly the same number of drives and partitions the same size or larger, install from the same original CD, apply all service packs to bring it to the same state as your backup, then restore the backup. Though I don't condone it, many OEM keys will work on different hardware if this action is performed however if the HAL or RAID drivers differ it probably won't boot.
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WLolliAuthor Commented:
In our case, the OEM CD is a Microsoft generic OEM package purchased thru an authorized Intel Prem System Builder, now out of business. The Server is an Intel system non-branded [not HP, not Dell, etc].

Using your reasoning, I tested trying the original CD onto the newer Intel S1200BTL mb, and since it is pre-SP1, it fails. The HAL just isnt beefy enough to see the newer chipsets, I suppose.

I guess the solution is to take a high-percentage of Neil's advice [in running the MS Technet instructions on how to migrate, see above link] in combination with the newer hardware running a retail install of a copy of W2K3 R2 SP2. In that way all the AD DC info can be ported onto the new hardware platform.

A tedious affair....
Any thoughts on that?
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WLolliAuthor Commented:
A further consideration as to why NOT to go to SBS2010 for us is that we would have to migrate all the XP desktops, leave the domain, rejoin the domain, adjust user credentials, etc.
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
You do not have to do anyting to the desktops. Migrating SBS 2003 to SBS 2003 or 2003 R2 is basically the same as migrating to SBS 2011. The same amount of work, i.e. AD is replicated, and licensing for the server O/S is not much different.

The costs are the CAL's. With both SBS 2003 R2 and Server 2011 you will have to buy new CAL's.
Also you will probably need a beefier server for SBS 2011: min 120GB HD, 12+ GB RAM, etc.

The original CD probably doesn't work on the new hardware as system builders often limit the drivers on the CD to those of the original equipment. Again to prevent what you are trying to do. Dell is one that used to leave the CD pretty much in tact.
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
Correct, read the link i sent you earlier. Nothing to do to desktops. Its a very easy process really, just looks like a lot of work lol
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
I don't know that I would call it easy :-)
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
hehe the instructions are all there, step by step. in terms of doing some things, its fairly easy
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WLolliAuthor Commented:
Thanks to both of you on this--
Because of the higher costs to go the big-2010 migration route, I will try to see if a copy of W2K3 Retail R2 Upgrade will do the trick. I can get a copy for about $300.

I will apply it to the existing OEM install and see if it takes it as an upgrade and accepts the Product Key that comes with the R2 Retail CD.

If it works, that saves a lot of time and costs of upgrading CALs, etc; if it doesnt, it was worth the exercise.
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
SBS 2003 R2 seems as an upgrade to SBS 2003 but there is no upgrade path, it is considered a different O/S just like 2008 and 2011, and the CAL's are different. i.e. your existing CAL's cannot be installed on it. If you are not going to move to 2011, you would be best to try to find SBS 2003.
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