How to Change the Product Key in 2003 Server Standard

It is quite possible that you were in urgent need to install any software but didn’t have the license key for the same. You used your friends license key and now you want to change the license key because you received your copy of that software. It has happened with me a couple of times and is likely to happen with anybody. Sam is possible in case of Windows Server 2003. You installed it using some other key and now you want to change the product key to the one you just received from Microsoft. But does this require re-installation of the entire operating system? Will you lose all the work you have done so far with your old product key and will you need to re-install all the software and applications that you have installed on your computer. The answer is No. Product key when entered gets saved in the Windows registry and Windows reads it from there and registers your product online. If you want you can disable the old product key by editing the registry any time and then enter the new product key. Disabling the product key and entering a new one will make Windows to go through the registration process once again and will register your new product. Let us now go ahead and see how to changed the Product key of an already installed and working Windows 2003 Server.

As mentioned above we can only do this by editing the Windows Sever 2003 registry and please note that serious problems can occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Please make the changes only in the keys mentioned here and do not alter any other value or key in the registry. Click on the Start menu and click on Run. Once you get the Run box open type RegEdit in it and press Enter. RegEdit.Exe is the default registry editor available in all the editions and version of Windows. When the Registry Editor opens you will find that the entire editor is divided into two panes. In the left pane you will find all the Keys and Sub-Keys and in the right pane you will find the values and data stored in those keys. Please browse to the followingkey: “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsNTCurrentVersionWPAEvents”.

When you will open this key you will get few data values in the right hand pane. One of the data value should be OOBETimer. Right click on it and select Modify. When the value becomes editable delete everything in it and save it blank. Doing this disables the current product key and now your copy of Windows Server 2003 has no Product Key associated to it. Close the Registry Editor and restart the computer. Once back, click on Start and open the Run box. In the Run box type “%SystemRoot%System32oobe|msoobe.exe /a” (type everything except the quotes) and press Enter. This command will open the License Editor. In this Window click on “Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to activate Windows” and then click on Next. Click on the Change button and then you will get the box to enter the new Product key. Enter the new product key and click on Update. This will apply the new License Key to your copy of Windows Server 2003.

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