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Microsoft 2010 was activated before removing a user, now it's not??

Posted on 2013-12-17
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I'm trying to help a client with a Sony Vaio laptop model VPCEB47GM. Windows 7.  I believe it was purchased within the last year but I don't know the date. The user was DEFINITELY using MS Office - Word and Excel up until we removed his username and cleared out his profile and created a brand new user.  (New user was created first, then we deleted the old username). I do NOT  know if Office came with the laptop preinstalled or he purchased and installed separately but knowing his low tech capability I think it's almost certain Office was preinstalled by Sony.

Now, logged in as the new user, when word or excel files are opened, the Office "Activate, Try or Buy" window comes up. What happened? Of course the owner doesn't have any documentation including COA that came with it. Is this really possible that creating a new user would force activation again?
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Question by:RickNCN
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by:Merete
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Hi
to my knowledge it may have been trial giving the new owner an opportunity to try it before buying it.
Most new OEM system come with this option and unfortunately to the remiss of the new owners who were never informed.
And I agree installing a new user should not have changed the original administrator. It would depend where it was installed from which account. Usually the administrative account overrides all other accounts.
What do you mean by>the owner doesn't have any documentation including COA that came with it<< COA with the laptop? there should be a sticker on the outside.
Take a look at the options, you may find the answers you seek here
http://office.microsoft.com/en-au/buy/office-product-key-card-frequently-asked-questions-HA101847520.aspx
Look under each header
Where do I find my Office 2010 Product Key?
How can I tell if I have Office 2010 preloaded on my PC?
To check, go to the Windows Start Menu and locate “Office 2010” in the menu. If you see “Office 2010,” Office is preloaded. If you do not see “Microsoft Office 2010” the software is not preloaded.
How many licenses /installations do Office Product Key Cards allow?
Each Product Key Card allows one user to activate one Office 2010 suite on one preloaded PC.
Who should I contact if I’m having trouble installing and /or activating my Office Product Key Card?
Please contact customer support at http://support.microsoft.com/office2010.
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by:Davis McCarn
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If the key is still in th eregistry somewhere, Nirsoft's ProduKey will show it to you: http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/product_cd_key_viewer.html
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by:cantoris
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If he'd bought it previously, it would still work since activation is at the machine level.

He'd probably started the trial at some point prior to your work - perhaps the trial timing is per-user hence it going back to the behaviour you see when you first use the trial edition on a new laptop?
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by:RickNCN
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I have new info from the User and original owner:

The PC was purchased Summer of 2011.
Office was definitely used the entire time, right from the beginning. He says he never started a trial and it never said "Trial Version" at any time while he was using it.


to my knowledge it may have been trial giving the new owner an opportunity to try it before buying it.

I'm almost certain it wasn't a trial. (update: definitely not) I know what you're talking about though. I think this laptop is almost a year old (update: it's 2 1/2 yrs old) and the user was using Office that whole time. It would have expired already if it was a trial


And I agree installing a new user should not have changed the original administrator. It would depend where it was installed from which account. Usually the administrative account overrides all other accounts.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "installing a new user should not have changed the original administrator"  but the "original Administrator" would be that user that we deleted, call it "User1" User1 was the first and only user on the PC. So, if Office was installed and activated, it should have been installed for all users, including any new users you create. I know some software asks "do you want to install only for [current user] or for all users of [This-PC]?" But I don't think this is the case for Office, right?

What do you mean by>the owner doesn't have any documentation including COA that came with it<< COA with the laptop?

No, I mean the COA for Office - the "Activation Key" card plus any other manuals and documentation for the laptop. Windows COA sticker is on the bottom, as usual.

To check, go to the Windows Start Menu and locate “Office 2010” in the menu. If you see “Office 2010,”

Yes, Office 2010 is there in the Start Menu, as it is on nearly every PC these days (or Office 2013 now). It's preinstalled. That's what I meant by "the Office "Activate, Try or Buy" window comes up". If you open an Office file, OR if you go to the Start menu and click the Office icon, the "Activate, Try or Buy" window comes up.

If the key is still in th eregistry somewhere, Nirsoft's ProduKey will show it to you: http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/product_cd_key_viewer.html

I did try Magical Jellybean and it found no Office Key. I'll try Nirsoft.

If he'd bought it previously, it would still work since activation is at the machine level.
That's what I would expect and why I'm so perplexed.

He'd probably started the trial at some point prior to your work - perhaps the trial timing is per-user hence it going back to the behaviour you see when you first use the trial edition on a new laptop?

(UPDATE - he definitely did not use a trial version and he *definitely* did not start one in the last 30 days he says)
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by:cantoris
cantoris earned 40 total points
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In the absence of any formal printed serials, you might have to phone Microsoft's activation line to see if they will reactivate it for you.  They ought to be able to verify its prior activation.
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by:RickNCN
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I user NirSoft ProduKey and it did not find a key in the registry. I'm baffled by this.
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by:Merete
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could you explain this.>>Office 2010 is there in the Start Menu, as it is on nearly every PC these days (or Office 2013 now).
So this new user getting this message with office 2010 or 2013? or both?
Is this Laptop in an office network environment and they access a server?
Was this user's  original account removed from the server as well?
Any conflicts possible here? I don't know the language but if there is a server connection could be a conflict.
So my line of thinking points me in a direction
with this new User ( administrator) have you run the windows updates for that version of office?

The link I posted at the bottom of my comments
Who should I contact if I’m having trouble installing and /or activating my Office Product Key Card?
Please contact customer support at http://support.microsoft.com/office2010.

opens this page>
http://support.microsoft.com/ph/13615
Download details - Office 2010 suites
Microsoft Security Advisory: Microsoft Office File Validation for Office 2003, 2007 Office, and Office 2010: April 12, 2011
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by:Davis McCarn
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The CD-Key is in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Registration and in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Registration.  Removing a user should not have touched the HKLM entry and Office should have refused to install without local admin privileges so it could create the HKLM entries.
So; something is very hinky here!
Are the files in \Windows\System32\config\regbak from before you deleted the old user?
If they are Produkey can be used to search an unmounted hive (SOFTWARE).
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by:RickNCN
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could you explain this.>>Office 2010 is there in the Start Menu, as it is on nearly every PC these days (or Office 2013 now).


Ok, so I hope things arent getting too confused to explain here, but what I was referring to there is that "Microsoft Office 2010"  is an icon in the Start menu. Clicking on that icon doesnt open the Office program, but a splash screen (Try Buy or Activate) - I'll call it the TBorA window. The TBorA window comes up on most new PCs I've worked with lately where a license isn't installed, or activated yet. Even if you buy Office Home and Business, or whatever version on a Dell PC for example, you still have to open the Microsoft Office 2010 (or 2013) Icon TBorA window and "Activate" by entering the key Dell includes on a small card with the PC (the COA card).

So, with this user, I had to get him working on Office so I used that TBorA window to "Try" Office and I started a trial. It defaults to Office 365 when you do that, NOT a trial of Office 2010. So a Trial of Office 365 is currently installed and running since 2 days ago.

Now, today, if I go to Start menu and click on "Microsoft Office 2010" (which is a FILE (or shortcut) icon, not a yellow program FOLDER icon), the icon is corrupt (it's a default windows 7 icon, not an Office icon) and opening it gives the error "Problem with shortcut" "This action is only valid for products that are currently installed".


So this new user getting this message with office 2010 or 2013? or both?

the user received this TBorA splash screen any time they opened a file that you'd normally expect to be registered with MS Office as a file type, OR if you went to Start > Microsoft Office 2010. (except, now, that shortcut seems to be corrupted - maybe by installing the Office 365 trial). The laptop did not not and does not have Office 2013 (unless you consider the Trial of Office 365 I installed 2 days ago to be Office 2013.)

Is this Laptop in an office network environment and they access a server?

No.

Was this user's  original account removed from the server as well?

N/A

So my line of thinking points me in a direction
with this new User ( administrator) have you run the windows updates for that version of office?

All Windows Updates are installed.
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by:RickNCN
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So; something is very hinky here!
Are the files in \Windows\System32\config\regbak from before you deleted the old user?
If they are Produkey can be used to search an unmounted hive (SOFTWARE).

Hinkey, indeed!

The files in RegBack are from 12/10, so, no, not from before I deleted the old user unfortunately.
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by:RickNCN
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The CD-Key is in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Registration and in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Registration.

I went to the first location and there is no 14.0 key (for Office 2010). There is a 15.0 key (maybe bc I installed the 365 Trial)

In "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\" there is an 11.0, 12.0, 14.0, and 15.0 reg key. 11, 12 and 14 all have subkeys "Word" in them and that's all. The 15.0 key has 11 sub folders from "Access" to "Word" including "Registration" Registration has "Owner-Vaio" and 2 subfolders with what look a little like key codes, starting with 9..... and about 30 characters.
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by:Davis McCarn
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I need to dig into how to recover hives from the System Volume Information folder on Win7.  What was the date the old user was deleted?
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by:RickNCN
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I dont recall the exact date without looking back through old notes but it was within the last month roughly.
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by:Merete
Merete earned 285 total points
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RickNCN
I can fully understand your frustration, this all about heavy regulation to prevent piracy at all costs,
I don't think the product key is lost it is now registered to a different owner or has expired?
And This new user account cannot sign in with that name?
-------------------------------------------------------
To resolve this problem, use one or more of the following methods, as necessary.
Method 1: Verify that the user who is affected is assigned a license for Office Professional Plus on the Microsoft Online Portal
Sign in to the Office 365 Portal as an admin user.
In the Office 365 Admin Overview section, click Users.
Select the user who has the issue.
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2390460/en-us

Extract from MS
Additionally, you may experience one of the following symptoms:
When you click File and then click Help in the Office Professional Plus 2010 application, you receive the following message:
Product Activation required
Unlicensed Product error when you open an Office Professional Plus 2010 application
 http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2390460/en-us

We have a few good suggestions here at EE to find your Office key,  but again it takes you back to accessing the registered account online.
Office 365 is running Office 2010.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Office_Productivity/Office_Suites/MS_Office/Microsoft_Office_365/Q_28292642.html

How do I recover or replace a lost Microsoft Office product key?
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/support/how-do-i-recover-or-replace-a-lost-microsoft-office-product-key-HA104172018.aspx
You may be able to recover the Office product key online. This option is available if you purchased, downloaded, and installed Office 2010 online or, at one point, the key was associated with a Microsoft account.
To recover the product key, go to My Account and sign in with the Microsoft account tied to the install.
The account details page will contain the product key and provide a download link to install Office.

It believe the damage is done and the simplest way back is to contact them. Regester this account.

What was changed with new account?
Regards Merete
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Davis McCarn earned 175 total points
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Get a copy of Tweaking.com's Registry Backup, install it, and create a backup (you'll need it later) http://www.tweaking.com/content/page/registry_backup.html

If it seems to hang, go to the advanced settings and check the box to always use the fallback method (not VSS).

Then launch Sytem Restore and pray you have one old enough.  You will have to click the Show More Restore Points link.  If you find one that is labeled Windows Update or Critical Update, choose it and let er rip.

Afterwards, check again with ProduKey then restore the backup you made with the registry backup utility.
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by:RickNCN
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Thanks, Davis and Merete,

I don't have a restore point old enough. (I don't understand what is up with MS restore points in Win7, any time I need them, the oldest is maybe a week or two (including "Show More"), not a month or more like in XP days, but I digress). But even if I did, I've already setup the new user with Quickbooks and other things and I wouldn't want to undo everything I've set up for him at this point.

I might try contacting M$. You gave a lot of helpful info for anyone in this situation. Thanks. If I ever figure anything out, I'll post it.

Regards.
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by:Merete
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Thank you RickNCN, your feedback if a solution is found would be much appreciated. Just post it back here in this question and the participating experts will receive an email that you have posted a comment.
All the best.
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by:RickNCN
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Well, this is truly weird...

I called Microsoft and spoke to a support rep. She at first said I needed to speak with Sony and then without any prompting from me backtracked and asked to have me do something on the laptop. I called the user and conferenced him in. She had him search for "Word" and up comes several hits, among them "Word 2010 Starter". In the Programs list there were:

Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium-en-us
Microsoft Office Click-to-Run 2010
Microsoft Office Starter 2010 - English

I honestly do not recall ever seeing Microsoft Office Starter 2010 there before. I'm familiar with it and have used it many times before on other PCs. I can't explain, though, any possible way that it was not there before and now mysteriously appeared. I think Ockham's Razor should be invoked here, as "among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected", and that is: it was there all along and I was looking for the wrong thing or swayed by seeing something else. The "Something else" being what I mentioned, above:

"what I was referring to there is that "Microsoft Office 2010"  is an icon in the Start menu. Clicking on that icon doesnt open the Office program, but a splash screen (Try Buy or Activate) - I'll call it the TBorA window."

That icon was, is, a /shortcut/ not a yellow folder. I think, maybe, if I had looked farther down the list at the yellow "Program Folders" I would have seen "Microsoft Office  Starter 2010".

What I do not understand though is this, from my original question post:

"Now, logged in as the new user, when word or excel files are opened, the Office "Activate, Try or Buy" window comes up."

It gave no indication that the PC had a fully licensed and functional "Office Starter 2010" version.

If Starter 2010 was there all along, shouldn't the office file associations just work for the new user?

Ugh! It really teaches you as a troubleshooter that sometimes you have to take a break, step back, and re-assess, or forget the assumptions you're working under, and then, sometimes, the correct path is right in front of you - where it was all along.
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by:Davis McCarn
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You have only part of the story......

Office Starter Edition was:
1: Only available as an OEM "extra"
2. By contract with M$, NOT included on the "restore" media if the user actually made them.
3. Replaced automatically if any other version of Office was installed including the 60 day trial versions.
4.  Automatically uninstalled if another version was uninstalled.

Uninstall anything that remotely resembles Microsoft Office and (shhh!) here's a link to the Starter Edition installer: http://www.datafilehost.com/d/0d1dc5a8
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by:RickNCN
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Thanks for the additional info!

1: Only available as an OEM "extra"
Yes, correct, it was provided by Sony with the purchase of the laptop

2. By contract with M$, NOT included on the "restore" media if the user actually made them.
Ok, I'll believe that. I could see M$ playing those little tricks. Though we never used any restore media in this case.

3. Replaced automatically if any other version of Office was installed including the 60 day trial versions.
Yes, that is also my experience, I've installed newer versions of Office over Starter and it does seem to replace Starter.

4.  Automatically uninstalled if another version was uninstalled.
This is the one that doesn't match my experience in this case. 1- New user created 2- original User removed 3- Office 365/2013 installed 4- 365-2013 uninstalled 5- Office Starter found in the Start Menu 6- Office Starter works but file associations have to be re-established, but all is fine now.
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by:Davis McCarn
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"4.  Automatically uninstalled if another version was uninstalled"

OK, the only times I have seen this was when another version of Office 2010 was installed.
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