Question about Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
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Posted on Jan 02, 2017
Product ID or Product Key?
Product ID relates to the distribution version of Windows software.
Product Key is a unique serial number identifying the running instance of the OS, and Microsoft checks that it is genuine and unique through their Activation program. You cannot use anyone else's. This is how Microsoft manages operating system licencing.
Product ID - get by right-clicking 'Computer' (available under start button), on the screen look for Windows Activation info.
Product Key: You must have licenced copy of Windows, either bundled with new computer (called 'OEM' and there will be a sticker on your system or in documentation that comes with it), OR separately purchased licence, in which case key will be inside casing of purchased DVD. Either way it costs!
Once you enter the unique key into a new installation of Windows, you cannot see it on the machine. If you want to know what it was, you have to look up the original sticker or paperwork that it came on. Microsoft requires that your machine regularly checks in, quoting serial numbers of key components (eg HDD, motherboard) so Microsoft can see that the key hasn't been moved around or duplicated from the original licenced machine. This is the Activation process. If the computer fails the test (eg it quotes a product key already used with a different pc), important parts of the operating system will stop working.
If you have lost your product key, you may have to purchase another. If you ring Microsoft support in your country and quote your specific hardware details (including serial numbers) they may be able to help you, but I haven't had to do that - if you get it sorted, make sure you record your key in a safe place so you can find it again.
Posted on Sep 15, 2009
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