Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I had recently formatted my system only to find out i have lost the cd key to my original cd. i had used the option to enter the product key later. Yes, i know its a stupid thing to do but i bought the cd in 2008 from a retail store and i lost the original packaging. the actual label on the cd is

includes service pack version 2002 .@2004 microsoft corporation reserved.

There are some numbers on the back side of the cd in the inner ring.

i cant for the life of me figure out how what is the use of the genuine cd i have with me when i cant seem to activate it.

what exactly is the advantage of having the original cd in your possession in situations like this?.

i have tried the unattend.txt and it doesnt contain the correct key. and there does not exist any winnnt.sif file in the cd.

where on the cd or in it can i find the product id information i stay in india . and my attempts at trying the microsoft support site keeps getting me directed to page which says they had stopped support for windows xp in 2011.

lets say by some miracle i do contact microsoft. what information would i have to provide them? and would they be giving me the product key for my cd key from their database? or a new key?

share|improve this question
Call microsoft to activate – soandos Mar 27 '12 at 3:17
Sound advice from David Schwartz below. I'd like to point out that the key and the CD are mutually exclusive, which is why you cannot find the key on the disc. You paid for the key, not the CD. – user3463 Mar 27 '12 at 4:22
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If your windows running then you can recover key from registry etc. There are few tools that help you find out the product key of your installed operating system.

check these link for help:
How To Find the Windows XP Product Key
Retrieving XP CD-Key from the Registry

If you have unattended installation media then use the following reference:
Find Windows XP Product Key From Your Installation CD [How To]

If you need to install Windows XP but you still can't find your Windows XP product key, even with an XP key finder, you have two choices.

You can either request a replacement product key from Microsoft or you can purchase a brand new copy of Windows XP.

Requesting a replacement XP product key is going to be cheaper but if that doesn't work out, you may in fact have to buy a new copy of Windows.

share|improve this answer
don't those methods work only if you have the product key in the first place to install ? it wont recover any key if there wasnt any at setup. – Aditya P Mar 27 '12 at 9:02
+1 I will try the requesting for a replacement. – Aditya P Mar 27 '12 at 9:10

Recover your system from a backup (or boot into the backup as a VM) and extract the product key from the backup. The product key can be extracted from the registry, so a registry backup should do.

If you don't have a backup, buy a new OS and consider this a very cheap lesson about the importance of backups.

share|improve this answer
@_@ i don't have a backup, dont know if windows xp is still available to buy. I am running this on an old p4 desktop i do have new machines. – Aditya P Mar 27 '12 at 9:01
Then I think this falls in the "cheap lesson about the importance of having backups" category. Sorry. – David Schwartz Mar 27 '12 at 9:09
for the millions of xp cd out there are there millions of unique key's? for each cd? – Aditya P Mar 27 '12 at 9:14
No, but for each license to use Windows XP (other than corporate volume licenses), there is a unique key. – David Schwartz Mar 27 '12 at 9:15

If you have the original CD search for file UNATTEND.TXT (\I386\UNATTEND.TXT).

Last line of this file conains a product key.

ProductKey = "...

EDIT: I did not yet tried this myself. It is possible that the key on the CD is some universal key just for installation.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .