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Windows upgrade fails because the unattend file contains an invalid product key, but I'm not using an unattend file

Posted on 2012-12-28
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Last Modified: 2013-01-23
Hi,

I hope some has got any idea about what could be wrong.
I'm trying to upgrade a Windows 2008 to Windows 2008R2 or Windows 2012 (same error on both upgrades)
When I start an inplace upgrade of the Windows 2008 (with the only role installed is HyperV) I'm getting this error.

The unattend answer file conatins an invalid product key. Either remove the invalid key or provide a valid key in the unattend answer file to proceed with Windows installation.

Strange thing however is that im not using any unattend file at all.
At tfirst I thought it was because I had an OEM server installed, so I tried to "upgrade" this to a VL installation. But just changing the product key gave me the following error.

Activation unsuccesful error 0x80077ee2

I also tried it via an elevated command promt with the command

slmgr.vbs -ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx, but that gave me an access denied error.

When I used my old OEM key again it did work.
So I tried it again with the VL key, again the same error.

So this time I opened a dosprompt and used the slui 4 command to active the VL by Phone.
No problem, it activated fine.
So I again tried to do an inplace upgrade but again the same error

The unattend answer file conatins an invalid product key. Either remove the invalid key or provide a valid key in the unattend answer file to proceed with Windows installation.

I'm not behind a proxy or TMG server.
Does anybody has a clue on how I could do the upgrade?
I have had no problems activating any VM running 2008R2 with this key and I only have activated 4 servers with this key, so that can't be the problem neither
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Question by:Filip Heens
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Expert Comment

by:themrrobert
ID: 38728341
2 ideas: 1) Try to set up again, but type the key manually, don't copy/paste.
2) Set up with non-express mode. (Unattend is used by default  unless non-express mode is selected, and Windows isn't perfect so sometimes weird things happen)


Also try disabling the floppy disk or any other external media that isn't required for the upgrade.

You may also want to check if there are any unattend files located on the machine windows may be trying to load by default, and then remove the lines in there with relation to product keys
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Author Comment

by:Filip Heens
ID: 38728349
Hi Robert,

thanks but ... ;-)

1. I tried it several times Always the same error.
2. I don't even get to the place where I can type the key... so that isn't an option neither :(

All I do is doubleclick setup from an extracted VL ISO file

I do however just had an idea, I disable all NIC exept for one that has Internet access (not all do have acces as this is a Hyper-V server. maybe that will do it. keep you posted...
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Author Comment

by:Filip Heens
ID: 38728351
already back...
That didn't do it neither, still the same error :(
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Expert Comment

by:themrrobert
ID: 38729836
There is definitely an Unattend file as part of the iso, that's how they work, so if you can find it and remove the lines about Product Key then it should prompt you for one and you can type it there.

It might be called something different, try poking around the config and ini files on the setup iso, and hopefully that  will give you more info.

If all else fails, contact Microsoft. They give free phone support for somethings, probably this is covered.
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Author Comment

by:Filip Heens
ID: 38729972
I've been trying to find the unattend file, but haven't found it yet.
I'll call MS monday, still have a call left in the OL + SA ;-) so I'll just use that if it isn't free...
Keep you posted on, what they say, but if anyone should have an other idea or solution before then... ;-)
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Accepted Solution

by:
Filip Heens earned 0 total points
ID: 38793053
Finally after almost 3 weeks searching with Microsoft support.
We've found the culprit...
There was a autounattend.xml file in the root of the system disk.
So we where all the time searching in the windows/panther, windows, windows/system32, the install directories, ... but it was just in the root of the systemdisk...
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Author Closing Comment

by:Filip Heens
ID: 38809115
i should award the 500pts to ms ;-)
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