Hi. Somehow I’m getting a message that Windows is not genuine. I know I’m
supposed to put in the key code, however, I can’t read the numbers on the
bottom of my laptop. They’re too worn. I get out the magnifying glass and I
still can’t see it. HP wants me to pay for help. The warranty’s expired. My
question is can I set my laptop to its default to solve this problem? Thank
In this excerpt from
Answercast #98 I look at a Windows installation that is complaining that it
is not genuine. That may make key retrieval difficult.
Can’t read Windows product key
Well, I’m not really sure by what you mean by “setting to its default”.
If you mean restoring from the recovery partition that HP, presumably, has provided you with? The best I can say is, maybe. It’s not likely. I’m gonna say that it’s not likely to help. And that’s really the only restore to default that I’m aware of.
The other restore to default isn’t a restore at all. It’s a complete wipe of the computer and a reinstallation of a copy of Windows. In either case, I fully expect you to need a product key. Unfortunately the product key on your laptop, that’s on that sticker, is the one you probably need.
Finding the product key
Now, a couple of things. You can, if you still have the paperwork from your purchase, you may find that the product key is written on that paperwork. If not, then I don’t really have any good solutions for you.
I have prevention for the next computer you get. That is… always, save the product key somewhere in a safe place. Write it down; save that somewhere. Save product keys for Windows, for any applications that you purchase and install; all of that kind of stuff.
It’s easy to replace the software. It’s not easy to replace the product key.
Why we need product keys
Product keys, basically, represent your right to use the software. If you can’t prove that you have that right; if you can’t prove that you actually have a product key that shows you have that right, then the only alternative manufacturers typically have is to insist that you purchase a new one.
That’s all about fraud. Anybody can walk up and say, “I can’t read my product key, can you give me a new one?” If the manufacturer did that, they’d be giving away Windows for free to whoever happened to pull that scam. So we need a product key.
You may have to purchase new one.
Retrieve product keys
One thing you might do before you go that route – there are a couple of tools that may help. One is Belarc advisor. I’ve got an article on Belarc on my site. That will actually show you what the product key is for the software that’s installed.
In other words, if you’ve got Windows running, you should be able to run Belarc advisor and have it tell you what the product key is. Do that; save it; see, for example, if it matches the beginning and the end of whatever you can see on that sticker. If it does, then you know you’ve got your product key.
Now the reason I’m reluctant or at least hesitant with this approach is that – if the product key is actually in the machine, and it’s the right product key, I’m not really sure why it’s complaining about being not genuine. So, I would have you do that.
Otherwise, like I said, you may be stuck having to purchase a new product key which basically boils down to a new copy of Windows.
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)
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