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Recovering a Windows XP License key

I threw out a Windows XP machine a while ago (the motherboard failed). I kept the hard drive and the XP installation media.

Problem is the license key was on a sticker on the machine - doh! The original manufacturer has gone bust (Evesham) and I suspect that Microsoft will be of little help.

Is there any easy way to get the license key off the hard disk? Can I just find the file with the registry data in it and get the key using a hex editor?

I really need a spare XP key for use in a Windows VM.

Answer

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    After further reading, if you have never reinstalled XP with the key on the sticker - you are unlikely to retrieve it by any means. OEM's usually use a generic key (not the one on the sticker) so that is the one that you would get from the registry.
    – Kez
    Aug 30 '09 at 17:21