If a Windows Embedded Standard 2009 OS is built with a trial license key, it will expire after some amount of time (either 30 or 120 days, I'm not sure which). It's very easy to give the system a valid permanent license key before the trial expires, but once the license key expires the system won't boot at all (even after adjusting the BIOS system clock to a time before the license expired and booting without an internet connection).

However, it's still possible to access the file system by booting from a secondary media, e.g. a bootable USB stick. Is there a way to manually provide a valid license key after the original trial license has expired, or does the entire image need to be rebuilt?

EDIT: Note that according to a post on social.msdn, this is not possible and the image must indeed be rebuilt. No evidence for why the change cannot be made retroactively is given, however.

  • You can post your edit as an answer if you wish, and accept it as the solution also.
    – Moab
    Jan 18, 2016 at 20:18
  • @Moab I'm hoping the answer is "yes, here's a workaround", though. One guy on social.msdn claiming it's not possible doesn't conclusively prove that that's the case. Jan 18, 2016 at 20:38
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? How to activate Windows Embedded Standard 2009?. I am flagging this as a duplicate due to this answer being submitted
    – Ramhound
    Aug 7, 2020 at 0:37
  • @Ramhound You're flagging as a duplicate because of an answer to this question? Aug 8, 2020 at 2:34

1 Answer 1


I induced the following screen. Is this the situation you have?

evaluation expired pic

I managed to work around this problem doing this:

  1. Reboot PC. As it boots back up, mash F8
  2. Once in the Advanced Startup menu, select "Safe Boot (With the Command prompt)"
  3. There, you get access to the shell. From there on, proceed with activating the OS as if it hadn't expired. For example, using this method
  • Sorry, I no longer have access to the machine I was working on when I had this problem, so I can't try this. Thank you for the suggestion. Aug 8, 2020 at 2:33

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