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How the license key works?

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by nugget, Aug 29, 2004.

  1. nugget
    Honorary Member

    nugget Junior toady

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    Could anyone tell me (if known) how the license key works?

    This is a passing interest inspired by recently installing some 2K Pro systems with a VLK, typing the wrong key for a single license system and XP's SP2 claims that even pirated VLK systems will be updated.

    Up till now I've always thought that the key is tied to the particular cd as I only have single user licenses at home. Therefore I assumed the key is simply generated (by M$) and hardwired to this particular install cd. I guess I assumed this as I have accidently typed the wrong letter and the result is an error message.

    What about VLK editions? Is this the same? You need 1 key for the install and that's the only one that will work? I don't really know as I haven't made a stuff-up as I now check and double check.

    Do the different keys have different algorithms or are the keys tied to the cd even for VLK editions? For example, I put in the wrong key for a single user install and it gives me a definate 'wrong key error'. Therefore the key is hardcoded. Will this happen to a VLK version? Does it have an algorithm to check the key against and therefore any VLK key will work?

    Anyway, I am just curious.[​IMG]
     
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  2. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    i kinda thought that windows knows the algorythms used to create keys, and so can identify incorrect keys when entered. as far as i was aware, all it did was make sure it was a correct key, accept it, and then generate a hardware ID which it reported to microsoft, containing the license key!

    Fergal
     
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  3. nugget
    Honorary Member

    nugget Junior toady

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    Thats the point though Fergal. I've typed the wrong key by 1 letter eg. H instead of J, and it comes back with an error message (single license version). Thats what leads me to believe the slv keys are hardcoded to that cd. If you lose the cd or key, you have big problems. It's not a case of just getting another cd or using another key.

    While I was writing this I was experimenting with installing some os's in vmware. If you want to know the results pm me.
     
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  4. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    possibly. but they use the same system with some games, when i had a game with an invalid key, they just sent me another one, didnt need to know which cd it was!

    also, if its based on algorythms, then perhaps that one change just didnt fit with the algorythm! maybe if it had been an A instead of an H it might have worked. or maybe each 'box' has only, say, 20 possible combinations, meaning that so long as you type in a valid combination into each box it sees it as a valid cd key.

    i have to say i have no actual idea, im just hypothesizing!

    Fergal
     
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  5. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    keys are NOT hardcoded to cds

    but there are more than one key algorithm in use

    MSDN keys
    OEM keys
    VL keys
    Retail keys
    Corporate keys

    they are all slightly different
    for isntance you cant often use an MSDN key with a retail CD
    and you cant use an MSDN key with a corporate CD

    there may be some overlap in my examples, but these are the main 'versions' that seem to be released, and alot of those keys are not interoperable

    yes a key being off by 1 would make the algorithm check fail
    and although some keys will work, doesnt mean activating it will work (as MS will have its current upto the minute key database, whereas CDs can only go on the algorithms they were set with on the master CD
     
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  6. nugget
    Honorary Member

    nugget Junior toady

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    I stand corrected.:oops:

    *slaps self in face*

    Thanks for clearing that up Phoenix.
     
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