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Windows 2008 R2 Install Error - Using VMWare Workstation

Recently I was installing Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition onto a virtual machine (VM) I was setting up to carry out some testing when I encountered the following error:

"The unattended answer file contains an invalid product key. Either remove the invalid key or provide a valid product key in the unattended answer file to proceed with the Windows Installation."

The error box is below:



The VM was hosted on VMWare Workstation.

I know I had a valid key, it was a key from my MSDN subscription. After a short trawl on the internet I found a few forum posts with people encountering similar issues.

The one I used can be found below:

From what was said in a few of these threads It seems that when setting up the VM using VMware Workstation but before I began the OS installation I had entered the Windows 2008 R2 product key as part of the VM setup wizard. VMWARE or Windows didn't like this and the forum post suggested I remove the product key.

OK no big deal, So how do I do that?

I looked at the VM settings in VMware Workstation but I could not see where the Product Key was stored and I could see no easy way to remove it. So I had to take some drastic action and delete the VM altogether recreate from scratch without entering the product in the VM setup wizard(see screen shot below).


You are warned that you may get prompted for the product key at a later time. Click <OK> or <Next> complete the wizard and the Windows Server 2008 R2 installation starts successfully.

Deleting the VM and re-creating it was no big deal for me but worth remembering for next time so I don't waste 10 minutes setting the VM before having to drop and re-create without entering the product key, unless somebody out there has a better way of removing the product key?


  1. That has caught me out recently too.

  2. Just delete the file autoinst.flp in the virtual machine folder (while the VM is powered off).

  3. Worked like a charm...even for VMware 9...thanks wizzard0


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