Recently working on a Dell Inspiron 8200 came the need for me to changed the Windows XP Pro Product Key due to the fact that the user had lost her Original Install CD. So I had to install the OS using another CD and changed the product key to the one on the Laptop’s sticker. I used an OEM CD for this job so it did not promt me for the Key after the install. I had to dig the web on how to change the product key most efficiently.

I found the info in Microsft KB (Article ID: 328874) and it worked great. I must say that I did not perform the last three steps in Method 1 since I was using a SP2 CD. Also, I did not get the message “Windows is already activated. Click OK to exit.” But I verified the key had been changed with Jelly KeyFinder. After the reboot, I connected my LAN cable and performed a Windows registration through the Web.


// You must have a valid product key before you can use the information in this article. To obtain a valid product key, click the following link to contact the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center: (
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Steps to change the volume licensing product key

// This article describes two methods for how to change the Windows XP product key after a Volume Licensing installation to resolve the issue. One method uses the Windows Activation Wizard graphical user interface (GUI) and the other method uses a Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) script. The Activation Wizard method is easier. However, if you must change the product key for multiple computers, the script method is more suitable.

Method 1: Use the Activation Wizard

// Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

322756 ( ) How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

If you only have a few volume licensing product keys to change, you can use the Activation Wizard.

Note We recommend that you run System Restore to create a new restore point before you follow these steps.

Deactivate Windows


  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK.
  3. In the navigation pane, locate and then click the following registry key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\Current Version\WPAEvents
  4. In the topic pane, right-click OOBETimer, and then click Modify.
  5. Change at least one digit of this value to deactivate Windows.
Reactivate Windows and add new product key


  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type the following command, and then click OK.
    %systemroot%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a
  3. Click Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to activate Windows, and then click Next.
  4. Click Change Product key.
  5. Type the new product key in the New key boxes, and then click Update.

    If you are returned to the previous window, click Remind me later, and then restart the computer.

  6. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to verify that Windows is activated. You receive the following message:
    Windows is already activated. Click OK to exit.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Install Windows XP Service Pack 1a or a later version of Windows XP.

If you cannot restart Windows after you install Windows XP SP1 or a later version of Windows XP, try the following steps:

  1. Restart your computer and start pressing F8 until you see the Windows Advanced Options menu.
  2. Select Last Known Good Configuration from the menu and press ENTER. This option starts Windows by using a previous good configuration.
  3. Repeat steps 1 through 8 under “Reactivate Windows and add new product key.”

If you can install SP1 or a later version of Windows XP and you can restart Windows, you have resolved the issue. If the issue has not been resolved, try method 2 or see the “Next Steps” section for more troubleshooting resources.