unattend answer file contains an invalid product key


  • I have an RTM copy from our vol Lic site downloaded, an MAK key for use, I built a USB bootable windows 7 install key. I think used vLite to create an unattended and the ini files and the xml all look fine, but when I reboot and try to boot from the usb, which successfully does and starts to kick off the install, I get this message:

    "The unattend answer file contains an invalid product key. Either remove the invalid product key or porvide a valid product in the unattend answer file to proceed with Windows installation."

    I have found some forums that state that state something about removing lines 28 through 30 which appears to be the Productkey tags, not sure what to do here. Our premium perscription gives us legal rights to download and install and use the RTM for the company, but though we have installed this very RTM from this usb like 3 times now manually (plug in and reboot and fill in the wizard stuff) this is the first time I have attempted an unattend option. We are currently testing the windows 7 in our AD evirement, My job pretains to just testing and developing an SCCM deployment procedure and standardization of the company refresh and software deployments. Any ideas as to why Windows 7 RTM MAK key is doing this or did I go about creating the unattend incorrectly?

    Sunday, September 20, 2009 11:27 PM

All replies

  • See: MDT 2010 is released! - Springboard Series Blog

    Microsoft does not support vLite to create an unattended installation.
    Carey Frisch
    Monday, September 21, 2009 3:08 AM
  • okay, so the question though is, which I suspected as much on the vLite, what is the instructions on creating an unattended install of Windows 7 RTM MAK?
    Monday, September 21, 2009 3:14 AM
  • Nevermind, I found it, DUH:

    I had the Vista AIK and not the Windows 7, the Image Manager that the AIK has didn't recognize the install.wim, but I am downloading this Iso now to try this.

    Carey, if you have any suggestions please let me know going to let this download and give this a shot tomorrow. Thanks for making it clear that vLite is unsupported and giving me a simple nudge of thought in another direction.
    Monday, September 21, 2009 3:31 AM
  • I've been having this same problem, though I didn't use vLite. I used the Windows System Image Manager version 6.1.7000.0 from the Windows Automated Installation Kit. I believe that's the same download as you have linked.

    Anyone know why this would happen? I've used the same product key during a manual installation of Windows 7 and it activated fine.
    Monday, September 21, 2009 12:12 PM
  • Are you using the Windows 7 Enterprise DVD?
    Carey Frisch
    Monday, September 21, 2009 12:55 PM
  • Yes. I am having the same problem using the version downloaded from Technet via subscription along with the associated key..
    Monday, September 21, 2009 9:14 PM
  • I've also tried this using Win 7 mak key and the enterprise version downloaded from eopen and still get this message.  (Using the latest WSIM)

    Tried it also with the professional version and exactly the same, yet they both work with manual installs, but I don't really fancy doing that to 30 laptops!
    Monday, September 21, 2009 11:02 PM
  • Same Problem Here, was using a key from our partnership program, manual install of the key worked, but when I had packed a WIM for a light touch deployment it failed with the same message  and in the failed screen gave the error 0x80004005.

    As a work around I:
    - opened up my deployment work bench
    - choose the task sequence with the required WIM
    - Selected Edit Unattend xml
    - Expanded Components
                   - 1 windowsPE
                   - x86_micrsoft-Winows-Setup_netural
                   - User Data
                     -Product Key

    - Then Right Clicked on the Key string and choose  "Write Empty String"

    Saved changes tried again and deployed my WIM successfully (and then entered product key manually.

    Think I'll need to put a KMS server in as a work around unless someone else has a better solution.

    Found a more accurate and lot better structured explanation and resolution here:

    • Proposed as answer by Mike Phelps Wednesday, September 30, 2009 3:23 AM
    • Edited by Mike Phelps Wednesday, September 30, 2009 10:52 PM Better information found
    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 3:21 AM

    Take it you ment that

    None of the suggests worked :(, but I did just copy an other unattend.xml and replaced it and that fixed it. Couldnt see any difference between them though.

    I fixed the issues by removeing the product key in the unattend.xml at the start of the xml.

    <key>#####-#####-#####-#####-#####</key> replace with <<key />
    Tuesday, February 09, 2010 11:27 AM
  • Hi All,


    I have experienced the same issue while prepping for my 70-680 exam and this is what helped me.

    First step in troubleshooting for me was to get help from product documentation, so...

    In WSIM click menu Help and click Unattend Reference...

    Search for Product Key

    Here is what I found in WSIM help:

    ProductKeySpecifies the Windows® image to install during Windows Setup.

    Entering an invalid product key in the answer file will cause Windows Setup to fail. - 
    That is what was happening
    If you specify a product key in the windowsPE configuration pass with Microsoft-Windows-Setup\Key, then Windows Welcome will prompt for a product key. If you specify the Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup\ProductKey setting during the specialize configuration pass, then Windows Welcome will not prompt for a product key.

    If you are using a Volume License Multiple Activation Key (MAK), it must be specified using this setting. If you preinstall members of the Windows operating system under a volume license agreement, consult your specific license agreement to determine the number of installations permitted per product key.

    When you install Windows with a single-license product key, you have 30 days during which you must activate that installation of Windows. When you generalize the computer, the 30-day activation clock is reset.

    To manage the activation clock: use Microsoft-Windows-Security-SPP\SkipRearm, or see the topic: Remove Computer-Specific Information from Your System (Generalize) in the Windows® OEM Preinstallation Kit (Windows OPK) User's Guide (Opk.chm) or Windows® Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) User's Guide (Waik.chm).

    Comparison of Product Key

     Specifies the Windows image to install during Windows Setup. If this setting is used by itself, Windows Welcome will prompt for a product key.
     Specifies a Product Key to activate Windows. If this setting is used, Windows Welcome will not prompt for a product key. This setting can be used with Microsoft-Windows-Setup\UserData\ProductKey\Key. Note that the two product keys can be different.

    If you are using a Volume License Multiple Activation Key (MAK), it must be specified using this setting.
     Specifies the key used to install and to activate Windows. Product_key is a 29-character string.

    This string type does not support empty elements. Do not create an empty value for this setting.

    Valid Passes  specialize

    Hope it helps,


    • Proposed as answer by NavinB Sunday, December 26, 2010 2:39 PM
    Friday, July 16, 2010 11:10 PM