I have a machine that I'm migrating from physical hardware to a VMWare server. It is Windows 2003 and the license key fell off the machine and is gone. I know when I start up the virtualized version of that machine, it will ask me to Activate. I know this because it did that for other machine I migrated. For that machine I have the key because the sticker is still on it.

So how can I get the activation key from the OS? Or am I stuck having to call Microsoft or Dell to get an new key?

4 Answers 4


You could try Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder.

  • This tool has never let me down.
    – tomfanning
    May 1, 2009 at 15:12
  • +1 - This tool is one of the "must have's" on my USB thumb-drive
    – Rob
    May 1, 2009 at 15:33

A quick Google finds this article that may help. I haven't tried it personally.


If your product key is from the COA attached to the server, it's likely to be an OEM product key and thus not generally transferable. In that case, it won't work for activating your virtual server.

I don't know the details of Windows Server 2003 licensing, however, for Windows Server 2008, I'm pretty sure that virtual guests are not considered the same machine as the host, for licensing purposes.

  • It worked just fine for one of the servers. As it turns out, the second server didn't ask for a key. It did ask to re-activate but it worked just fine the way it was.
    – Jay R.
    May 1, 2009 at 18:24

I just used CD Key Reader and it seemed to work ok.

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