How to Fix: 'Windows Setup has Failed to Validate the Product Key' Error

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Jill G. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I have a Windows 7 Pro machine that we use at work which has a broken Windows Update. I have tried to do an 'upgrade repair' in hopes of fixing the issue, but the Windows installer exits immediately. The major issue we're facing is that our Windows 7 machine has new user accounts on it which we did not create - we suspect that it has become compromised because it has not downloaded Windows Updates in over a year. From what I read online, it is possible to upgrade from Windows 7 Pro to Windows 8 Pro (not 8.1!) which will keep my programs and files in place - and should fix my Windows Update problem. I have tried to install Windows 8 Pro but I keep getting an error that 'Windows setup has failed to validate the product key'. I am at a loss. Is there any way I can get around this error message? "

My response:

I asked Jill if she would like me to connect to her machine using my remote desktop support service, and she agreed.

For the record, it is critically important to keep your Windows machine up to date, or hackers can get in and out without being detected - even if you have antivirus / antimalware software installed. Here's how to check if your Windows Updates are up to date.

With that said, I have not encountered the 'Windows setup has failed to validate the product key' error message before, but after a bit of research, I discovered it is possible to override. Even so, you will be asked later for a product key after Windows is installed - so have it ready.

How to Fix: 'Windows Setup has Failed to Validate the Product Key' Error

This fix should work for Windows 7, 8, and 10.

To get around the 'Windows setup has failed to validate the product key' error message, do the following:

  1. Go to My Computer / This PC, then right click the Windows install DVD and select "open".
     
  2. The contents of the Windows DVD will be displayed on the screen. Press CTRL + A on the keyboard to select all files and folders, then press CTRL + C to copy these objects into your clipboard.
     
  3. Next, go to My Computer / This PC, then double click on the C drive to view its files and folders using Windows Explorer. Right click an empty area of the Windows Explorer window, then select New -> Folder, and name the folder as "Temp". This will create C:\Temp folder.
     
  4. Double click the C:\Temp folder and then press CTRL + V on the keyboard. This will copy the entire contents of the Windows DVD into C:\Temp.
     
  5. Open Notepad (click Start, then type in "Notepad", then click Notepad when it appears). Paste the following into Notepad:

    [EditionID]
    professional
    [Channel]
    Retail
    [VL]
    0

    Note: if you are upgrading to another edition of Windows, refer to my notes below.
     
  6. In Notepad, click "File -> Save As...", then navigate to the C:\Temp\Sources folder, and name the file "EI.CFG".
     
  7. Retry the Windows setup. It should work.

Upgrading to Other Versions of Windows

If you are not upgrading to Windows 7, 8, or 10 "professional", you can input whatever version you're attempting to upgrade and it should work. For example, the C:\Temp\Sources\EI.CFG file below is for Windows 8.1 Enterprise:

[EditionID]
enterprise
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

Another option is that you can leave the edition blank, in which case Windows will ask which version you're trying to install. Example:

[EditionID]
[Channel]
OEM
[VL]
0

Note that when I used the above configuration and attempted to upgrade Jill from within her Windows 7 desktop, it did not work - your mileage may vary.

I hope that helps.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

If all of this is over your head, or if you need help installing / upgrading / fixing Windows, I can help using my remote desktop support service. Simply contact me, briefly describing the issue and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question -- or even a computer problem that needs fixing -- please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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