PDC05: Product Key Problems – Redux

A week or so ago, I posted an updated product key for the Windows Vista builds we distributed at the PDC. We’ve been keeping a close eye on attendee feedback to make sure we’ve mopped up any problems people have experienced whilst installing Windows Vista. In general, people seem to have had no problems once they used the correct key. However, a small percentage of installers manually extracted files from the ISO image with a tool that didn’t handle long file names well, and they hit a further problem as a result. James Adams (an SDE in the beta team) has posted a note to the beta newsgroup which I’ve reproduced here for visibility to a wider audience:

For those of you who have been trying to install the new build but have been encountering a message saying that your product key is invalid, we’ve figured it out.

Vivek Mukherji identified the root cause of this, and we have verified it. As such, we’ve got a workaround for you. If you are using a utility for extracting files from the ISO which has a setting for preserving filename length in the files you’re extracting, you will need to enable that setting. This will solve your problem.

[UPDATE: Removed text about manually renaming files, since this simply replaces one problem with another.]

If you’re unsure if you’re experiencing this issue or not, check out the c:\$windows.~bt\sources directory. If you see a file pkeyconfig.xml there, the ISO images were extracted successfully. If on the other hand, the filename has been truncated to pkeyconf.xml, you’ll hit this problem. One tool that some people have used with success for ISO image extraction is Daemon Tools. I have no direct experience with this tool and cannot therefore make a recommendation.

Drop me a line if you’re still having problems, and we’ll see what we can do to help, but I think the combination of this with the correct product key should resolve all the outstanding issues. I’ve updated the wiki with this new information.

Comments (8)

  1. NewXStar says:

    What is This sources dir???

  2. NetRolller 3D says:

    I’ve checked multiple programs about which work and which doesn’t, and I found that IsoBuster and UltraISO doesn’t work, as they don’t detect the UDF file system correctly. On the other hand, Alcohol 120% and Nero ImageDrive worked.

  3. Tim Sneath says:

    NewXStar, the sources directory is created during the installation time as a cache for Windows Vista files – it’s only relevant at that point in time.

  4. RL at CoAir says:

    I am not running into this issue however I have attempted to install the iso image via the virtual driver on several different boxes and I get the error "Setup can not get information regarding the disks on this machine", at which point setup bails out. The boxes are new hardware so I am doubting a compatibility issue but thought I would see if someone has run into this.

  5. While at the PDC I went through the problems described above after extracting the ISOs through ISO Buster.

    I then used Daemon Tools and it worked great; I’m also the one that updated the WIKI on Channel 9 with this information while at the PDC.

  6. Adi says:

    I have vista build 5219 and I tried to mount the dvd with nero image drive, alcohol 120, daemon tools ans so.. but NOTHING. The activation code is not accepted. what to do? plz help

  7. James says:

    I found a pkeyconfig.xrm-ms file on my G drive (mounted).

    Havn’t seen or heard of an xrm-ms file before, but I found that and no key works 🙁

  8. Tim Sneath says:

    I’m locking this thread, since almost everyone arriving at this post is trying to get a product key for their cracked warez product. I’ve moderated most of the comments but it’s wasting too much of my time.


    For all those who are interested in Windows Vista, keep an eye on this site for details of the customer preview program:


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