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Level 1 Contributor

Invalid COA/Key

I just purchased Windows Server 2016 Standard OEM. Opened it up, removed the privacy block to reveal the key, entered the key at setup, it was accepted but wont activate after Windows was installed. It says it is invalid. I went thru the SLUI 4 and after entering the codes its says the key is invalid and contact the vendor, I got the same response when I called MS support. The vendor wants to email me a new key but wont offer a COA. This seem a little weird to me. Its a legit vendor here in Canada and have dealt with many time over the years. Any thoughts on this? Is it legal to use the key they send without the COA? The error code is 0xC0004C003.

Thanks for the help!


Sounds a bit suspicious - I would expect that they ask to send the COA back and then issue a new one with a new key. They can themselves discuss with Microsoft (EOC) to get replacements (or via their distributor).

Since Microsoft does not sell keys standalone (only with a COA) the question is really where this new key comes from.

Generally the key is not the license - so the existing COA would still be proof that there is a license. While questions reg. legal compliance are always a bit tricky (I can not do any legal consultation)  I can at least say that OEM EULA does only mention the COA sticker as proof of license, not the key. So I personally can not see any term in the EULA that would prohibit this.

There are similar situations where customer is allowed to use any other key (he owns) - e.g. when doing downgrades. 


Also check here for information on how valid COAs look like - and options to report when you really think the package was not legit: https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/howtotell/Software.aspx?tab=PackagedSoftwareTab



Kind regards, Janosch
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Level 1 Contributor

Thanks very much for the clarification. Vendor supplied the key and is shipping new COA and media after all. The information you provided is very helpfull! Thanks once again 🙂