However, online activation fails saying the key is not genuine. I know it is because in addition to the above I managed to retrieve it using UBCD4WIN and I have installed Vista Home Premium as before but I never get a chance to phone Microsoft as you could with XP.
Is there some way of phoning them or has this been disabled for situations when MS has decided that the key is invalid?
THe last time I installed my old HDD to a new system and did a repair installation to update the system files for the new hardware I used the phone activation process - so it is still there in VISTA.
What happens if you open Help and support and type in "activate" and then from the list chose Activate Windows on this computer from the list of results - then click on the Click to open Window Activation link ?? (Since mine is now activated I can no longer get to the activation options - but IIRC there was a choice to activate by phone there )
Also check the code carefully as you may have transposed a number\letter somewhere when entering it !
I changed my computer hardware and Windows is no longer activated.
When you make a significant hardware change to your computer, such as upgrading the hard disk and memory at the same time, you might be required to activate Windows again.
To activate Windows on this computer, do the following:
Open Windows Activation by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, right-clicking Computer, clicking Properties, and then clicking Activate Windows now. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
If automatic activation fails, follow the screens that walk you through activating Windows by phone. You will have three days to activate your copy of Windows after changing your hardware.
So once automatic activation fails it should bring up the phone activation screens.
That's the weird thing. I get to that screen ok but it doesn't have the phone option. All I get is "Buy a new product key"; "type a different key" and "contact Microsoft to help resolve this problem". The last just brings up the help page and searching that doesn't lead anywhere...