Mar 31, 2008
Tip and Trick Editorial

Windows Vista Product Key for Simplified Chinese Is Not Transferable to Other Language

Looking to buying Windows Vista or computer running Windows Vista operating system in China, which is extraordinary cheap compared with price in Unite States, and then use the product key to install other language version of Windows Vista, such as English? If this is your intention, probably the only choice is Windows Vista Ultimate edition, which allows users to install multiple or more than one display languages for user interface in Windows Vista.

It’s reported that the Windows Vista product key, at least for OEM based product key printed on COA, is locked into usable on Simplified Chinese version system only. It’s unclear if the license purchased via retail channel (if you manage to find non-counterfeit copy) is also restricted under such terms.

Weird part is, if user install a computer with Windows Vista English Home Premium edition, he or she can activate successfully, online or via phone, the Windows Vista system with product key meant for Simplified Chinese (typically marked with SimpChn or ChineseSimp on product key printed on COA) Home Premium edition, even though both product keys are allocated to Home Premium edition. However, after activated and restart of computer, the system will halt in BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) in infinite loop. The is one unique line of error message information printed on the BSoD:

Windows did not find any installed, licensed language packs for the system default UI langauge.

The error happens because of two reasons. Firstly, cheaper editions of Windows Vista does not support users with ability and license to use more than 1 user interface display language. Secondly, the language pack (Simplified Chinese) that tagged with product key is not installed. Additional UI display language can be installed using Windows Vista Multilingual User Interface Language Pack (MUI), which provides translated version for most of the user interface. However, MUIs require a license to be used and are only available with Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows Vista Enterprise.

Thus, when Windows Vista starts, with a Simplified Chinese (China) product key on English installation, it will assume the system to be in Simplified Chinese, and looking for the corresponding MUI language pack, which cannot be found. Beside, if it’s not an Ultimate edition, there is license violation too, hence the error. Note that user who does this trick does not officially violate EULA known to rest of the world, which specifies that only 1 language in allowed on Home Premium, Home Basic and Business edition of Windows Vista (which is English), but the product key restricted to China locality simply doesn’t allow system to run.

In short, Simplified Chinese version of product key for Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium and Business editions is not interchangeable and transferable to other language versions. Apparently, Microsoft publishes separated product key for Simplified Chinese versions after Windows XP SP2, and the product key won’t work on system displayed other language since then. Thus, the COA sticker for Simplified Chinese is in orange color marked with SimpChn or ChineseSimp for differentiation, while the rest of the world has COA sticker in dark blue color, which can be used on any language edition, as long as only one language is installed (except Ultimate edition).

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