How to Activate Windows Vista Without a Product Key

By James Henry

Windows Vista can be activated without a product key when you edit the Windows Vista registry. You can bypass the need to provide a product key by editing certain registry values. This will allow you to postpone activation for an additional 30 days. You can continue to test a version of Windows Vista, recover saved files or gain additional time to find a misplaced product key for a standard activation at a later time.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer running Windows Vista
  • Administrator password

Find the Registry Key

Step 1

Click the "Start" button.

Step 2

Select "Search Files and Folders" and type " Regedit" into the box.

Step 3

Press the "Enter" key to launch the Registry Editor.

Step 4

Find the "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows NT \ CurrentVersion \ SL" registry key.

Edit the Registry Key

Step 1

Right-click on the registry key named "SkipRearm" and choose "Edit."

Step 2

Type "00000001" as the new Dword value.

Step 3

Choose "Save" to save the change to your registry.

Step 4

Close the Registry Editor.

Rearm Activation Time Limit

Step 1

Press the "Start" button.

Step 2

Type "cmd" in the "Search Files and Folders" section.

Step 3

Type "slmgr-rearm" at the command prompt and press the "Enter" key.

Step 4

Reboot your PC to commit the registry change.

Tips & Warnings

  • This technique can be used to postpone the activation deadline one year or longer.
  • To extend the activation deadline of Vista indefinitely, repeat these steps as necessary.
  • You can use a default value of "00000000" for the Dword.
  • This is a temporary solution to activating your Windows Vista without a product key. A valid product key must be provided and activated for a legal copy.
  • You must rearm the system again 29 or 30 days later.
  • Any changes in the Windows Registry should be made with caution.
  • Provide the administrator password to approve a User Account Control prompt.