Software & Apps Windows Step by Step Guide to Changing the Windows XP Product Key Can't activate Windows XP? Here's how to change the product key By Tim Fisher General Manager, VP, Lifewire.com Tim Fisher has 30+ years' professional technology support experience. He writes troubleshooting content and is the General Manager of Lifewire. our editorial process Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Tim Fisher Updated January 29, 2020 Windows The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide Tweet Share Email Windows XP reached its end-of-support date in early 2014. There's no guarantee that, in 2020 and beyond, the activation process will work as originally envisioned. The main reason you might want to change the Windows XP product key is that your key is pirated or otherwise incorrect but you don't want to reinstall Windows XP to activate your new legal product key. We created this step-by-step guide in addition to our original How to Change the Windows XP Product Key Code guide. There are several very specific steps in this process, many of which involve editing the Windows Registry, so this visual tutorial should help clear up any confusion. 01 of 15 Open the Start Menu Click Start > Run. 02 of 15 Open Registry Editor With the Run application is open, type regedit and then click the OK button. The regedit command opens the Registry Editor application. 03 of 15 Access the WPAEvents Registry Subkey Make only the changes we outline, to the Registry. We recommend that you back up the registry keys you're modifying in these steps as an extra precaution. Locate the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE folder under My Computer and click the plus sign (+) next to the folder name to expand the folder. Continue to expand folders until you reach the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\Current Version\WPAEvents Click the WPAEvents folder once. 04 of 15 Click to Modify the OOBETimer Registry Value In the results, locate OOBETimer. Right-click or tap-and-hold on the OOBETimer entry and then click Modify from the drop-down menu. 05 of 15 Select Part of the OOBETimer Value The screen you should see now is the Edit Binary Value window with OOBETimer in the Value name field. As part of the process to change your Windows XP product key, you'll need to deactivate Windows XP. Deactivating Windows XP is accomplished by changing the value of OOBETimer. Select any part of the OOBETimer value by double-clicking on it (or double-tapping). We've distorted much of the hexadecimal series for OOBETimer in this and other screenshots but you'll see several letters and numbers on your computer. 06 of 15 Change the OOBETimer Value Enter any value you want over the selection you made in the previous step. The OOBETimer value just needs to change — it doesn't matter what it's changed to. As you can see in the screenshot above, we changed the first part of the value to 11 from FF. Click the OK button to confirm the change. 07 of 15 Close Registry Editor After the OOBETimer value changes, close Registry Editor. 08 of 15 Click on Start and Then Run Click Start > Run. 09 of 15 Open the Windows XP Activation Wizard Type the following command into the Run application: %systemroot%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a Click the OK button. This command opens the Windows XP Activation Wizard, where we'll change the XP product key. 10 of 15 Choose the Telephone Activation Option The Let's activate Windows window begins the activation process. Choose the Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to activate Windows radio button and then click the Next button. You won't actually activate Windows XP by telephone. This is just the step you have to take right now to get to the area where you can change the Windows XP product key. If you don't see the screen above but instead see a message notifying you that Windows XP is already activated, you may not have properly changed the OOBETimer value in which case you should start this process over. 11 of 15 Click the Change Product Key Button Click the Change Product key button at the bottom of this window. Don't fill out anything on this screen, since this is part of a Windows XP activation process. 12 of 15 Enter the New Windows XP Product Key Locate your valid Windows XP product key and enter it here. After entering the product key, click the Update button. The product key in the screenshot above is not a valid Windows XP product key. It is provided for example only. 13 of 15 Wait While the New Installation ID Is Generated After updating your Windows XP product key, the Windows XP Activation Wizard will generate a new Installation ID which will be used to activate Windows XP. This screen is only momentarily displayed. If you don't see it, don't worry. It probably just happened too quickly to notice. 14 of 15 Reactivate Windows XP Now that your product key is changed, you'll need to reactivate Windows XP. You should see the Activate Windows by phone screen. If you click the Back button, you'll see that you have the option of activating over the internet — a much easier and faster way to activate Windows XP assuming you have an internet connection on the computer. If you'd rather postpone activating Windows XP until a later date, click the Remind me later button on this window or choose the No, remind me to activate Windows every few days button on the main activation screen. 15 of 15 Confirm Reactivation of Windows XP After activating Windows XP, you can verify that activation was successful by repeating Step 8 and then Step 9. The Windows Product Activation window that appears in place of Step 10 should say "Windows is already activated. Click OK to exit." Click OK. Still Having Trouble? If this process, which is not uncommon, try changing the Windows XP product key with Winkeyfinder, a popular free product key finder program that can also change the XP product key. We like this manual process better since there's nothing to download but if it doesn't work for you, give Winkeyfinder a try.