Fix Vista “Your product key cannot be validated” Error

You may encounter the following error message if, during Windows Vista operating system installation, you click Next after entering the product key:

"Your product key cannot be validated. Review your product key and make sure that you have entered it correctly."

Cause of the Error

The following are some of the common causes of this problem:

  • You actually entered the product key incorrectly.
  • You are installing Windows Vista media package that comes without SP1 and you are using the product key that was generated after Windows Vista SP1 was released.
  • You are trying to install Windows Vista from the hard disk, after extracting the installation files from a Windows Vista .iso image by using a third-party software.

Resolution Method

Depending on the cause, you may use the following methods to resolve the error:

Method 1: Re-enter the correct product key

If you have just entered an incorrect product key, just delete it and re-enter the correct key.

Method 2: Get a copy of Windows Vista SP1 and perform the installation.

The best way to work around this issue is to perform a keyless installation of Windows Vista, then install the Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1). Finally, enter the product key while activating your operating system. You can do these tasks by performing the following steps:

  1. When asked for the product key during installation, leave it blank and then click Next.
  2. Click No when asked “Do you want to enter your product key now?“.
  3. When asked for your Windows Vista version, select the I have selected the edition of Windows that I purchased checkbox and proceed with the installation.
  4. After the installation is complete, use Windows Update feature to download and install Windows Vista SP1 on your computer.
  5. Next, when you are prompted to activate your copy of Windows Vista, do it by using your product key.

Note: To manually activate your Windows Vista copy, right-click the Computer icon and then select Properties. Finally, scroll down the Properties dialog box to activate your Vista installation. You can also use this section to verify that your Windows Vista operating system has been activated.

Method 3: Use appropriate .iso extraction utility

You may encounter the product key not validated error because some third-party compression tools do not retain long file names of files during extraction.  Therefore, to prevent discrepancies in files after you extract them from the Windows Vista .iso image, use a tool that does not change the file names of extracted files and retains them as is.