Windows 98 Product Key List Fix
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The key terms here are activation and activation key and activation server. An activation key is a piece of hardware used to create a unique product key for a product. The Windows activation server is a piece of hardware that authenticates Windows operating system activation keys.
In Windows Vista, they have a separate activation server, and in Windows 7, they have a way to activate the product using a USB stick. In Windows 8, they have moved the activation server to the hardware that detects the product key at the time of installation. This is on the motherboard or on a separate device like a thumb drive. These methods can also be used to activate a product for the first time.
Windows 7 ships with their own activation server. Windows 7 systems are shipped with an activation key in the registry. This key is accessible using regedit. The key is contained in the following key:
Support for Windows XP is coming to end so Microsoft wants to move up to Windows 10. Windows 10 is bigger than Windows XP and Vista. For the purposes of this article, I'll just cover how an activation server works in the Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 worlds. I'll skip Windows 8.1, which isn't supported anymore.
Modern versions of Windows are marketed as having an all-inclusive Windows that is unattended. Many times this is true. You can actually leave the system alone and it will self-upgrade most of the time. There are times where it will not self-upgrade, like upgrade from Windows XP Professional to Windows 8.1
If you are a Windows Server 2008 R2 or later domain admin, you can use the following command from a command line to view the status of the Windows Installer service. Note that on Server 2003 and Windows Vista, the Windows Installer service name is WUCSvc.exe
When you use the Windows Update utility to install service packs, you will need to have administrative privileges to use it. If you are unable to use the Windows Update utility to apply Windows Service Packs and updates, you may also need to use third-party tools like WSUS to apply these updates for you. If you are using an older Windows Server 2003 operating system, you may still be able to use the Windows Update utility to install service packs.
Usually Windows runs as a service automatically at bootup, so to open the Windows Management Console (optional) to make changes to service settings, you would need to manually start the service. To start the service, open Services.msc (Start -> Run -> Services.msc).
To obtain online help, Microsoft provides a web site known as the Support Assurance Web site at https://support.microsoft.com/microsoft-support/ where you can view and download support articles, including information about Windows support.
The approach I presented was not unique, in fact it was already being used by WindyTAN (the vendor I work for) and Alfred (the vendor I work for). But none of these were as mature as the VmWare approach that I wanted to develop. With the end of support for Windows 95 the VmWare approach was perfect. 827ec27edc