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Lorin Thwaits A geek says what?

Yesterday I found an undocumented feature tucked away in Vista's activation reminder.  I don't expect that it exposes anything that directly contributes to circumventing activation, plus this can offer useful info for those who administer Vista systems, so I decided to post about it.  If you haven't activated after 30 days, this pleasant reminder appears:

If you restart the system then that's all you can get to.  OK, time to activate.  At this point you can change the product key, phone in to activate, or purchase a key online at that point by opening up a browser window for you.  It's all very convenient.  But you can also learn more if you need to.  I stumbled upon this because I was trying to call up Task Manager by using SHIFT-CTRL-ESC, and then I tried to open a command prompt by doing SHIFT-F10.  Neither of those came up.  But interestingly enough something else did.  That sequence, SHIFT-CTRL-ESC, and then SHIFT-F10, shows you the extended license information for this copy of Vista:

If you select "Show me the current Active Windows license" then you can determine what key was used during the original install by finding the entry for "Partial Product Key", which shows just the first five digits of that 25-digit key.  It also tells you what variety of Vista was installed (Business, Ultimate, Enterprise, etc), and if it's retail or OEM.  A very handy thing.  Finally all the way down in the file it shows how many days are left for the 30-day grace period, or if it has fully expired.

Hope this tip is helpful for those who are called upon to manage licensing for Vista installations.

Posted on Wednesday, February 14, 2007 1:11 AM Vista | Back to top


Comments on this post: A handy feature in Vista's activation tool

# re: A handy feature in Vista's activation tool
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Wow man.. This can very handy :) Thnx for sharing =D
Left by MazterJay on Sep 14, 2008 8:11 AM

# re: A handy feature in Vista's activation tool
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I agree, this probably can come in handy at times
Left by Child Care Home Provider on Sep 22, 2009 11:07 AM

# re: A handy feature in Vista's activation tool
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Thanks for the info about pnputil - didn't know about that.
Left by DDos Protection on Nov 08, 2009 11:52 PM

# re: A handy feature in Vista's activation tool
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hey, I found this web page from yahoo answers and read a few of your other blog posts. They are nice. Pls keep them coming.. Cheers, Vincent.
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# re: A handy feature in Vista's activation tool
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