This tool runs in the context of your own browser and does not transmit anything over the network.
Purpose and Background
As of Windows XP and Windows Office XP, you're required to enter product keys when you install the software. These are typically provided on a label affixed to a CDROM case or other software distribution packaging. The product key is required for product activation, and activation is ultimately required if you expect to use the product for more than a few weeks.
Microsoft, though, has not provided you with any way to view your product keys once you have entered them. So it's easy to enter them once and then forget about them. Over time, your installation CDROMs and software packaging and the critical little product key labels have a way of wandering off. Then, sometime later perhaps after an unfortunate event requiring reinstallation of your system software you need the product keys once again, but you can't locate them. Another very common situation is that you've got a bunch of computers, and you can't remember which product keys correspond to which computers.
Reality Check: Rule 1, unfortunately, is often violated and it becomes necessary to find the product keys through other means: inspection of the product key information that actually is stored in the system in the Windows Registry, but in obfuscated form. You can't just easily view them even with the Registry Editor as you might hope.
Luckily, though, a number of tools are available to provide you with a way of viewing your product keys. This is one such tool. Its one and only function is to decode digital product IDs used by Microsoft for:
and perhaps some other Microsoft products that use the same obfuscation mechanism.
It's a rather specialized tool for unusual circumstances, though, and should probably not be your first choice for most cases. Read on...
When should you choose another tool? Most of the time, actually. If you just need to find the product keys for your currently-running Windows system, consider using Magical Jelly Bean Software's Keyfinder. Nice tool, and it works just fine as of Windows XP SP2. It's a small, single file, no-installation-needed executable (.exe).
Under one or more of the following circumstances, this tool might be a good option:
The actual case I encountered that motivated me to whip this up was a system with a failing but not totally gone hard drive. No longer bootable. The system's owner (who shall go nameless, oh, and, "Hi, Mom!"), alas, had lost or misplaced the original boxes containing the orange product key stickers. Luckily, I was able to copy the %windir%\system32\config\software hive, load it with the registry editor, retrieve the digital product ID values, and use this tool to convert them to product keys.
Various Microsoft products obfuscate (using a two-way hash) the
product key and keep them in the Windows registry under values named
DigitalProductID. Such values are located in the registry at the following registry key
locations (and probably a number of others):
CLSIDis a CLSID of the form,
Get the value to enter for Encoded Digital Product ID into the above tool as follows.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current Versionin the example above)
DigitalProductIDvalue name. Then select menu option [View] [Display Binary Data]. This will bring up a dialog box entitled Binary Data. Note that this is a little safer than just double clicking the value name, which gives you another dialog box where you run a slight risk of accidentally changing the value.
Ed Scherer, 21-Jan-2005