If you're preparing to reinstall Windows Vista you'll need to locate your copy of the Windows Vista product key. Normally this product key is on a sticker on your computer or located with the Windows Vista product manual.
If you've lost your product key, it's located in the registry but is encrypted and not readable, making finding it difficult. The key was not encrypted in previous versions of Windows like Windows 98.
Follow the steps below to locate your Windows Vista product key code.
Important: Please read my Windows Product Keys FAQ for more information.
Manually locating the Windows Vista product key from the registry is nearly impossible due to the fact that it's encrypted.
Note: The manual techniques used to locate the product key for operating systems like Windows 95 and Windows 98 do not work for Windows Vista. That method will only locate the product ID number, not the actual product key used for installation. Luckily, a number of free programs exist to help find product keys.
Choose a free product key finder program that supports Windows Vista.
Note: Any product key finder that locates Windows Vista product keys will locate the product keys for any edition you may have including Windows Vista Ultimate, Home Premium, Home Basic, Business, and Enterprise.
Download and run the key finder program. Follow any instructions provided by the software.
The numbers and letters displayed by the program represent the Windows Vista product key. The product key should be formatted like xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx - five sets of five letters and numbers.
Write this key code down exactly as the program displays it to you for use when reinstalling Windows Vista.
Note: If even one character is written down incorrectly, the installation of Windows Vista that you attempt with this product key will fail. Be sure to transcribe the key exactly.
- If you need to install Microsoft Windows Vista but you've tried everything and still can't find your Windows Vista product key, you have two choices.
You can either request a replacement product key from Microsoft or you can purchase a brand new copy of Windows Vista.
Requesting a replacement Vista 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.