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windows xp – How to know which license version has an XP installed system – Super User

Posted by jpluimers on 2022/03/29

When virtualising your final physical Windows XP machines (just in case you need to hook up old hardware that is unsupported from newer Windows versions), you need to figure out the kind of license of each physical Windows XP machine in order to stand a chance to keep it licensed.

This answer by [Wayback] Moab [Wayback] windows xp – How to know which license version has an XP installed system – Super User helped me a lot.

I tried to make it a bit easier to read:

  1. First obtain the “Product ID” from the Windows XP machine. It is derived from the original Windows XP installation product key and displays a few values:


    • xxxxx: the MCP (Microsoft Product Code) describing which product version, or in case of Windows XP: what language, edition (like “Home” and “Pro”) and often some more information)
    • yyy: the Channel ID (especially important to set apart OEM from other channels; OEM is not allowed to be virtualised, so would need a complete new Windows XP key to be activated as Virtual Machine; Channel IDs being neither OEM nor VLK (volume license key) can often be re-activated, sometimes over the phone to explain the situation; I’ve not tried virtualising a VLK based Windows XP yet.
    • zzzzzzz-zzzzz: semi-random values

    [Wayback/] Product IDs – Lunarsoft Wiki has quite detailed lists of not just the MCP and Channel ID values for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, but also the disk volume labels and setup.ini label values.

    Often this is easier to do from the physical machine before virtualising it, but even afterwards you can get it by running Windows in Safe Mode, then use either of these to get the Product ID:

    1. Run the Windows Contol Panel applet sysdm.cpl which shows the “Product ID” us under the “Registerd to” information.
    2. From the console, run reg query "hklm\software\microsoft\windows nt\currentversion" /v ProductID
    3. From another machine or boot CD (like Hiren’s Boot CD or Windows Ultimate Boot CD), mount the hard disk, mount the registry hive, then show the above registry key value
    4. Download and run NirSoft [Wayback] ProduKey (which usually will give you both the Product ID and Product Key)
  2. From the product key, determine if you can re-activate Windows, either by phone, or by this link:

    [] Self Service for Mobile

    I got the link from [Wayback] activate windows xp – Microsoft Community via [Wayback] windows xp – How do I activate WindowsXP now that support has ended? – Super User.

    Phone (in most countries) and on-line activation should still work; it worked in 2016 (see [Wayback] license – Will I still be able to activate Windows XP after support ends? – Super User) 2019 (see [Wayback] windows xp – How do I activate WindowsXP now that support has ended? – Super User) and 2020 (see [Wayback] XP activation – Windows XP Home and Professional).

  3. When OEM, try to obtain a legal Windows XP license key that matches the MCP, then change the key using steps in for instance:

    Note that it is no use searching Google for Windows XP License keys: Microsoft did and invalidated them back in the Windows XP SP1, SP2 and SP3 days: Wayback: Error message when you install Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) or Service Pack 2 (SP2): “The product key used to install Windows is invalid


The 2001 Windows XP Professional License is archived in the Wayback machine as Microsoft Windows XP Professional END-USER LICENSE AGREEMENT: Windows%20XP_Professional_English_9e8a2f82-c320-4301-869f-839a853868a1.pdf (via [Wayback] Convert your existing Windows XP system into a virtual machine – TechRepublic).

Note this does not cover OEM or Volume Licenses.


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