How to Recover a Microsoft Product Activation Key

Updated March 23, 2017

When installing Microsoft products on a computer, users must enter the product activation key to utilise all of the features of the software. While you may be able to open documents in Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint without an activation key, you will be limited to viewing the documents because all editing and document creation functions will be unavailable. If you have misplaced the activation key for the Microsoft product that you are installing, it is possible to recover the activation key by contacting Microsoft.

Run the activation wizard for the Microsoft program that you are installing. The activation wizard will automatically appear as a dialogue box on your computer screen when you install new products. If you are attempting to activate Microsoft Windows Vista or 7, you can do so manually be clicking on the "Start" button, right-clicking on "My Computer" and selecting the "Properties" option. On the "Properties" page you'll have the option to activate Windows. In Windows XP, go to the Start menu and point to "All Programs," "Accessories" and "System Tools" to locate Windows activation.

Select the "Activate by Telephone" option in the activation wizard, which will prompt you to enter your location so that you can get the phone number to the closest regional Microsoft activation centre. When calling the activation centre, have all of the documentation related to the Microsoft software ready. Of particular importance are the Installation ID, certificate of authentication and your computer's serial number. The Installation ID is generated by the activation wizard when users select the telephone activation option.

Call the telephone number to speak to a Microsoft representative regarding your lost product activation key. The customer service representative will ask questions about the problem and for details such as the Installation ID, the product's certificate of authentication and the serial number of the computer where you are installing the software. Once complete, a new Microsoft product activation key will be generated for your software, allowing you to complete the installation process on your computer.

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About the Author

Lynn Burbeck is a professional writer with over five years of experience writing for the Web. She has published numerous articles for print and online media including "Grit" Magazine. Burbeck holds a B.A. in journalism and political science.