We purchased a single license on Windows Small Business Server 2008 for a medical office, and soon after a power fault caused the server to overload, destroying the power supply and motherboard. I reinstalled on a new server, and have the domain up and running again, but under system properties it tells me I still need to activate windows, and that the product key currently entered is invalid for activation.

I've been trying to figure out how to get in touch with Microsoft to explain the situation and get a new activation key issued without having to pay for another license which we can't afford, but the online documentation hasn't been particularly clear on the subject. Does anyone know how to do that, or if I do need the activation key to continue using SBS 2008? (It currently tells me I have 56 days left to activate)

Any tips would be appreciated. I'm not strictly a computer guy and I'm feeling a little lost.

  • have you tried the support chat on the microsoft hompeage? scroll down to the bottom -> contact us -> chat – KutscheraIT Jan 14 '11 at 22:03

The activation dialog should present you with a phone number to phone in the event of activation failure.

When you call you will get put through to an automated system, and if that fails to activate your product you get to speak to a real live person.

Depending on the license terms, you may not actually be allowed to legally re-install if you installed on different hardware (which it sounds like you did).

Since SBS seems to do pretty much everything differently than "normal" Windows Server Operating Systems do, it might be OK, it might not.

As always, please contact Microsoft or your local reseller with regards to all licensing queries.

  • That's a sound and promising answer, but I have one significant problem, in that the activation dialogue fails to bring up an automated telephone activation option. I've used the telephone activation before on other OSs, so I know where it should be, but the only options I have are to buy a new product key, type a different key, or "contact Microsoft to help resolve this problem" which brings up a windows help window with internet links to support sites, none of which give me an automated telephone system number. Any thoughts or ideas? – Jon Jan 14 '11 at 22:27
  • Do you have a relationship with a Microsoft reseller? They might be able to help you in some way (though it's probably clutching at straws). – Ben Pilbrow Jan 14 '11 at 22:42
  • I have found this - it's the volume licensing activation center numbers, but they might be able to help. Again, clutching at straws though. – Ben Pilbrow Jan 14 '11 at 22:56

This is standard stuff, I last had to go through this when a video card failed. You normally just call the number and quote the reference number shown in the 'failed activation' dialog window.

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