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I've a laptop which has a Windows Vista licence sticker on it, but it was downgraded to Windows XP due to reasons. However, the HDD is broken (read errors and bad sectors everywhere) and it will not boot to windows without freezing. And to make matters even worse, it's a 1.8" ZIF HDD.

So ProduKey is out of the question.

I've tried offline nt password & registry editor without success (could not find the key), and now I'm trying my luck with a GUI. So I booted to Parted Magic from UBCD and opened PCRegEdit.

It asks you to open a file and you can then browser registry like you would in windows, but I still can't find the product key anywhere, like it wouldn't exist.

There is no HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion to be found.

What are my options? Hirens BootCD & live windows xp?

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Downvoter, explain yourself. –  Christian Jun 3 at 10:51

2 Answers 2

Your initial assumption was correct: the product key is located in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion. The name of the key is ProductId. Double check it, it should be there.

I am not sure what software you use to browse your registry, but I would recommend to simply copy contents of Windows\System32\Config to some other external storage (usb key or smth), then import it to the registry editor on another machine and read it.

This short tutorial explains how to load registry hive for offline editing

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The problem was that there was no HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. –  Christian Jun 3 at 16:06
    
then as I suggested use some normal way to read the contents of your registry. Copy files over to another XP machine and do not rely on some dodgy software like Parted Magic. Files that you are interested in are located in Windows\System32\Config –  smc Jun 3 at 17:09
    
I fail to see anything dodgy on Parted Magic. It's a linux distro that has a lot of useful software on it. Many times I don't have another computer to read the registry contents, so I have to manage with the tools I always have with me. –  Christian Jun 3 at 21:55
1  
Well, you have just mentioned that you cannot see HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. I have suggested the alternative and most reliable way to load the registry. –  smc Jun 3 at 22:17

I couldn't think of any other option than going with the Hirens BootCD. Legal or not, using the "Live XP" installation on it was pretty much the only choice I had.

So, by any means necessary I booted to a Windows XP installation similar to Ubuntu Live CD, downloaded ProduKey, opened it and selected a source for ProduKey to look into by pressing F9 and selecting "Load the product keys of external Windows installations from all disks..." and simply pressed ok.

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This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. –  harrymc Jun 4 at 7:17
    
@harrymc You do realize that I am the poster of this answer and the author of this question? –  Christian Jun 4 at 9:08
    
I realize that now. But your answer is still not clear enough for others to understand and do the same. The answer was flagged as such by the automatic reviewing system of SU, which is how I happened to review it. –  harrymc Jun 4 at 9:36
    
@harrymc I'll add some detail to it. –  Christian Jun 4 at 10:03

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