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Product Key issues

Here are some useful bits gleaned while sorting out messes having to do with Office activation keys/product keys

OSPP.VBS is your friend

OSPP.VBS is a tool that's installed along with Office. It has all sorts of uses, most of which are beyond the ken of all but IT Deities, but a few of its tricks are quite useful to even the most mortal among us.

It can show you which versions of Office are installed on your (Windows) computer and it will reveal the last five digits of each version's activation key. That can be very handy information.

For example, it seems that if multiple copies of Office are installed, one can interfere with the other's ability to be activated, and from what I've seen so far, multi-copies seems the norm if the PC originally shipped with a trial version of Office pre-installed.

Sooo.... how do we drive OSPP?

For Office 2016/2019, you'll find OSPP.VBS in

Substitute 14 or 15 for Office 2010/2013 respectively.

Open an elevated command prompt (hold SHIFT, rightclick the CMD icon, choose Run As Administrator) and CD to the appropriate directory above.

To get a listing of installed versions

Type this:


This will give you some clues about each Office version installed, the last five digits of its activation key, its grace period and more.
The grace period is, I suspect, how long you have before Office goes into reduced functionality mode IF it hasn't contacted the mothership within that time period.

To remove a registered key

Type this:


where XXXXX = the last five characters of the activation key for the version you want to get rid of (as shown by /dstatus)

Why would you want to do this? Suppose, as mentioned above, that /dstatus reveals multiple versions of Office. You can use /unpkey to remove all but the one you want to leave in place.

To install a new key or replace one key with another

Type this:

CSCRIPT OSPP.VBS /inpkey:{full key}

where {full key} = the full key for the version you want to install

Caveats, Notes, Mumblings

So far I've only used this on non-subscription versions of Office 2016/2019. I'm not sure it works on subscription versions (/dstatus works, but not sure of the key removal/add tricks)

In the same folder as OSPP.VBS, there's also OSPP.HTM, which gives you loads of other /options, most of which will probably leave you as mystified as they do me. But /ddescr looks interesting in case you get activation errors.

If invoking OSPP.VBS gives errors about not being able to find a script engine for VBS, it's possibly because some other app (looking at YOU, Notepad++, but there are others) has taken overr the file association for VBS files. The fix:

The usual caveats about modifying the registry apply. If you don't know what the usual caveats are, find a techie to make this change.

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Product Key issues
Last update 16 February, 2019
Created: 16 February, 2019