I have a Windows XP product key on my PC, but I'm not sure which release of Windows XP it belongs to SP1, SP2, or SP3.

Is there a way I can tell without trying each one?

Note: In this case, I have an old PC which had an OEM XP Pro license. I don't have the media for it any more. However, I do have a media for XP Pro (off the shelf non-OEM).

The Product Key on the case doesn't want to validate. So I'm presuming that there is something encoded in it as to the release it works with. I can get media, I just don't want to try each one.


Service packs do not affect activation. You should always install the latest service pack, and your key will work with it as long as it is a legal key. The only service pack supported for Windows XP currently is SP3, so use that. As long as your key is legit, it will work.

  • The product key looks legit (it's consistent with any other MS Sticker I've ever seen). However, sticker indicates that it is OEM XP Pro, and the media is off the shelf XP. I wouldn't expect there to be a difference - but there must be, as it's not accepting the key. – BIBD Sep 9 '10 at 13:52
  • 3
    Ah, your problem isn't related to service packs, it's related to the media source. To reinstall an OEM version of Windows, you should use installation media provided by the manufacturer, or else generic OEM media if you don't have the original. You can still use an off-the-shelf disk, but you will need to call the activation hotline and activate manually by phone for that to work; you cannot do automatic internet activation if your key doesn't match the media being used. – nhinkle Sep 9 '10 at 18:22

1) Click on Start and then Control Panel.

2) Click on the Performance and Maintenance link.

Note: If you're viewing the Classic View of Control Panel, you won't see this link. Simply double-click on the System icon and proceed to Step 4.

3) In the Performance and Maintenance window, click on the System Control Panel icon at the bottom of the window.

4) When the System Properties window opens it should default to the General tab. If not, choose it manually.

5) In the System: area of the General tab you'll find the operating system version and the service pack level. See the screen shot on this page for an idea of what you're looking for.

  • An Easier way would be

1) Right click on My Computer

2) Select Properties

3) Under General Tab look for your service pack version

  • An even easier way is Windows+Pause – Canadian Luke Aug 27 '11 at 3:24

You need to download or get access to OEM XP Pro media. The service pack version does not matter in the least.

I've had good success downloading this media from torrent sites. Some others would say this is unwise, but so long as you download a file that is highly rated, you're unlikely to have issues.

Non-OEM media will not recognize or validate your product key.

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