Licensing and Activation Problems with Expression Web 3 or 4

Some customers have experienced problems when entering a product key or when activating Expression Web 3 or 4. This problem may have one of the following symptoms.

  • You see an error that says “The licensing didn’t start properly (c004E01E).”
  • A valid product key is not accepted by the installation or by the software.
  • A fully licensed product reverts to a trial version at random.
  • Licensing errors occur during install or activation.

If you are experiencing the error in the first bullet, you should run the Fix It in KB article 960480. This issue is due to an invalid Registry key, and the Fix It in the article will resolve the issue. Note that you must reboot your computer after running the Fix It.

If you are experiencing any one of the other symptoms, or if you are seeing a licensing or activation error not outlined here, you may have a corrupt license store. In these cases, you will need Microsoft support to resolve the problem for you. You can do that by browsing to and clicking the link at the bottom of the page that says "Contact a Support Professional by Email, Online or Phone."

There is no charge for cases related to licensing errors and activation errors. You will have to provide a credit card number to open a case, but no charges will be applied to that card.

If you can uninstall all Expression products prior to calling in for support, it will save time during the support call.

Comments (12)

  1. Steve R says:

    I have a functioning version of Expression Web 3 and just downloaded and installed the trial version of version 4 which is supposed to be a free upgrade.  I registered the new version without a problem and also activated it without a problem.  However, when I look at the Help About Microsoft Expression Web 4 dialog box I see a product code in the format XXXXX-XXX-XXXXXXX-XXXXX and, above it, a message saying I must enter a product key in 59 days.   When I click on Help Activate Product I am told it is already activated.  What am I missing here?  Thanks.

  2. Jim Cheshire says:


    That's a sign that your license store is corrupt. Please follow the steps outlined in my post for opening a case with us to get this corrected.


  3. Richard Page says:

    I called tech support to open a case. They refused. They said there was nothing to do with them and I should take it up with MSDN.  The thing is I had already been to MSDN. They told had  me the key had hit the activation limit (though I can't see how) and to get another key. I did that but it still won't work. MSDN then told me to open a support case. Now I'm stuck …

  4. Jakob R. says:

    The same as with Richard happend to me after switching to a new SSD-Disk. 🙁

  5. My problem started suddenly when I tried to run Expression web from my Expression Studio Ultimate 4. A message "A licencing problem has occured…" came up and didn't let me run the program. As suggested from the blogs I uninstalled the whole product and try to re-install it…when I had to enter the Product Key it said the "Key is not valid…" and I couldn't install it again. Nor the chat support nor the suggested KB artticle (my registry key was correct) helped me. It's still an open case. I'm stuck too….

  6. Missing Product Key says:

    I purchased my product.  Used it; loved it.  But then I moved, and I can't find the product key.  How can I find a copy of my key?

  7. Geoff says:

    I have fully license version of expression web 4, when I start the program it tells me I need to activate and when I do it states the program is already licensed and closes

  8. Lionel says:

    Using Expression Web 3 – I encountered this "challenge" and inserted the  installation DVD, clicked on setup.exe and when prompted selected 'Repair'. After the repair I rebooted and started WE3 and was prompted for the key. It now works fine for me.

  9. Alyice says:

    I have fully license version of expression web 4 on Win 7, x64. My processor died. I had to get a new processor, now when I try to use the program it tells me I need to activate the program. When I enter the product key, it states the program is already licensed and shuts the program down so I CANNOT USE IT.

    I went online to find a fix but there is NO hotfix for an x64 platform, though I purchased this product to work with x64 and it worked just fine.

    I called 1-866-740-1258 to get help and they told me I have to go to microsoft support online, and request a fix ticket which will cost me $499! Are you serious! What the hell is wrong with this picture?

    I should not have to pay someone to help me "activate" a product I legally paid for!

  10. Marc Peterson says:

    Damned Microsoft even changed that number you tried to a FAX LINE, HOW DO YOU CONECT SUPPORT?

    What a run around MS!

  11. Alex S says:

    OK Given the complete failure of Microsoft to respond to any of these queries, here are my experiences regarding Expression Web 4:

    – I had the same errors as everybody above noted after installing Expression Studio 4 with a legit key. After running it got into a loop where it said ' Activated OK' and then shut down and same thing every time. Or it said 'already activated' and then inexplicably shut down anyway??

    – Go to the page where the hotifix is supposed to be. Where you see (1) Select Hotfix, you might find that there are zero updates listed. This is probably because you have a x64 OS detected and the Expression Studio software is x86, even though it will still install and run on a x64 OS. There always was only an x86 version of Expression Studio / Web

    – Click 'Show hotfixes for all platforms and languages (18)'. This will list a whole bunch of x86 hotfixes

    – Choose English  x86 Web4SP2a_FullFile even though your OS might be x64

    – Jump through the hoops MS make you go to for them to send you a link to the hotfix for download.

    – The downloaded file is about 97.5MB and looks like a complete installer for Web, incorporating SP2a.

    – Run it and install, even if you already have it installed.

    – Now open Expression Web 4 and be stoked that it finally works.

  12. Alex S says:

    Heres a quick link to the English hotfix

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