Black Screen/Need Product Key

   I have a black screen on my laptop that only diplays an error message asking for a Product Key.  I am running Windows Vista.  I recently installed some software.  I can not get to my desktop, but I am able to get online because there is a link with the error message telling me to validate that my software is genuine.  I checked on the bottom of my laptop for the Product Key but, unfortunately it is faded off.  I called Dell, because that's where I puchased my laptop, and they have not assisted me.  They said that they don't have the Product Key and they also said that it shouldn't be asking for a product key.  Could someone please assist me.  I have sooo much saved that I do not want to lose.

Question Info

Last updated January 11, 2019 Views 1,422 Applies to:
Hi Dneen,

Thank you for using Vista Support forum,

Did Vista come pre-install on your laptop? If so, try again to locate the product key which might be include some other place than the label at the bottom of your laptop.

If your Vista unexpectly ask for activation, please go ahead and use the phone activation method to talk to a customer service representative to help you
How to contact Activation Center
How to active Vista

Here's what the product key look like:

  The product key number is a sequence of 25 letters and numbers. The number is divided into 5 groups of 5 characters each. During Vista installation, you must enter the product key number to activate Vista.
  • A Express or Retail Vista can be installed on any one computer at a time for as many times as you like. A OEM Vista may only be able to be installed on the exact same computer as many times as you like. The product key number for the Vista 32 bit version is the same one for it's 64 bit version. You can only have the Product Key activated on one computer and version of 32 bit or 64 bit Vista at a time. If you had the product key activated on one computer and made some hardware changes to it (EX: Motherboard) or decided to use it on another computer, then you will have to remove it from the old computer and do a phone activation.
  • You can usually find the product key on the back of your OEM computer or on the retail installation disc holder inside the Vista package. Look for a sticker that looks like one of these below.
  • For the license terms for Vista, see: Microsoft: License Terms for Software Licensed from Microsoft
  You can tell if you have a OEM or Retail Vista by looking at the product key number. x = a random number or letter
  • OEM - xxxxx-oemxx-xxxxx-xxxxx
    NOTE: Will also include OEM on the Vista Product Key Stickers. See examples below.
  • Retail - xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx

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