We've recently absorbed a small company who had a Dell PowerEdge server running SBS 2003. For some reason, the hard disks have been wiped. We have the product key though from the sticker on the side of the case but not the installation media:

Win SBS Std 2003 1-2 CPU 5-CAL OEM software

We do have a Dell labelled set of four CDs labelled SBS 2003 in our store and I've built a VM from this media but it doesn't prompt for the product key during install.

Is there any way to ascertain whether this media will work with this product key without going through activation? I know one can activate several times but would prefer to check we've got the right media before doing this.

Thanks, Rob.


It turns that that the media I found for Dell SBS doesn't need a product key or activation when it's running on Dell hardware so it was a non-problem in the end.


It should be all set but the only sure way I am aware of is to go through activation.


I've found a way to do this:

  1. Build VM but don't add a network card
  2. Install without product key
  3. Try to activate but without a network card it fails
  4. You can change the product key at this point before telephone activation
  5. If you enter a bad product key it says so
  6. If you enter a good product key, you get an installation ID

I'm therefore kind of assuming that as it's accepted the key, it's passed the internal checks to make sure it's the right kind of key for the media.

So time to rebuild the server...

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