How to Change Product Key without a Reinstall for WGA

Posted June 9, 2006 by MickeyMouse in Windows installation

Windows Genuine Advantage is now a required install. If you need to change your product key without an installation because of WGA requirements, these steps will walk you through it. This tutorial uses Microsoft-supported software and is how I explore “You May Be a Victim of Software Counterfeiting” errors.

Many of our users at work have been receiving the You May Be a Victim of Software Counterfeiting error. Basically, what happened was that the notebooks were mailed with invalid product keys.

Surprisingly, for many people, the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) or supplied valid product key may not be the actual one in use on their desktop computer or laptop. These numbers can be found on your XP software box or on a COA sticker on your system.

First, compare the product key on your XP installation to your valid XP product key or COA number using the WGA Diagnostic Tool.

If the numbers are different, you can usually change your number to a valid one by using Microsoft’s Key Update Tool.

The Conversation

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  • deyamag

    If more explnation.
    thanks anyway.

  • Anonymous

    Using Ghost we cloned one computer onto another, faster etc. Using the diag tool the key is showing ok even though the product label on the computer does not agree. Should I change it to match the computer or leave it alone? The old computer will probably be recycled.

  • Anonymous

    Hi. I’ve tried everything you have suggested to ensure my software is genuine but to no avail. I’ve located the original product key, but when I use the “tool”, it says that these numbers match the product key given and therefore it won’t update my system. I have to tell you that I downloaded the “trial” version of Microsoft 2007 and uninstalled it after the trial was over. I have ALL the product keys (XP and 2007 and 2002 Publisher), but I still receive messages that my product may not be genuine. Do I have to purchase the genunie advantage? Thanks for your help!

  • MzBlondage

    that works with XP so how do i get past WGA on 7 or vista?

  • Mike

    Worked a treat, I had to recover a validated copy of XP after a self-induced crash, and all I had was an old XP recovery disc that came with a Dell laptop years ago. It all worked, I got everything back just as before, except, I got the wretched validation screen again, but your advice fixed it in simply, without more grief! Bravo! Many thanks for posting this fix, you are a genius!

    Best wishes from France,

  • Kevin Hayes

    Several years ago my then neighbour decided to help me out by installing his ‘old’ Windows XP on my computer I was grateful at the time as I did not know that it was ‘Illegal’. I would like to call on a computer repair person come and sort the problem. Also, is it possible that he/she could replace the ‘old’ XP with a later windows system, if that is the easier way to go?

    Thank you, kevin Hayes.

  • Kevin Hayes

    Eagerly waiting! Thank You. Kevin Hayes

    • David Kirk

      Kevin: Even if your prior version was completely legit, Microsoft has not left an easy path to jump from XP to a modern version of Windows. You cannot just slide in the DVD and ask it to upgrade everything nicely. As most XP systems need hardware upgrades to work with Windows 7 or Windows 8, frequently a new system purchase is the best way to go. Alternatively, I would recommend purchasing a separate hard drive, cloning your old drive to the new drive, upgrading, and then manually moving data back over. Even with that, applications will need to be reinstalled. Even with a new system, a good computer shop or local expert would be helpful in moving your old data back over. I upgraded my dad’s system last Christmas in a similar fashion. Even with my experience, it look a full day of working and tweaking on it to get working perfectly.

  • I found out my chipset drivers were not compatibable with larger hard drives. I found the updated driver at HP and installed it and voila! No more non genuine but I used your trick above to get it working. Thanks.