Installing a new Windows 11 on a system consists of a few preliminary steps, in which product key validation is the most important part. Windows won’t start to install unless it validates a 25-character product key. In case, the product validation fails, you will see an error message like – “Setup has failed to validate the product key“. Don’t worry. There are some fixes that you can use to fix the issue or use an alternative method to bypass the key validation step.
Fix 1 – Get around with a config file
You can manually create a configuration file that can help you resolve this issue. If you are using a Windows 11 /10 ISO, you have to mount it first.
Step 1 – INSTALL 7zip
If you have 7zip already installed on your system, you can skip these steps.
1. At first, open this link and download the 7-zip installer file on your system.
2. Next, double-tap on the “7z2106-x64“.
3. Finally, tap on the “Install” button to install the 7zip app.
This will install the 7zip on your system.
Step 2 – Extract the Windows ISO file
You have to extract the Windows ISO file.
1. Now, open the File Explorer and navigate to the location of the Windows ISO file.
2. Then, right-click on the Windows ISO file and tap on “Show more options“.
3. After that, tap on “7zip>” and further tap on “Extract files…” to extract these files.
4. Now, choose a location to extract these files. Remember the location where you are extracting these files.
5. Then, tap on “OK“.
Once you are done, tap on “Close“.
You can close the File Explorer window.
Step 3 – Create a config file
1. At first, open an empty Notepad window.
2. Then, copy-paste these lines in the Notepad, depending upon which edition of Windows you are installing.
For Professional Edition –
[EditionID] professional [Channel] Retail [VL] 0
For Enterprise Edition –
[EditionID] enterprise [Channel] Retail [VL] 0
3. Then, tap on “File” and click on the “Save As…” option.
4. Now, navigate to the “Windows 11” folder where you have extracted the Windows ISO file.
5. Now, go this way –
Windows 11 > sources
6. Inside the sources folder, set the ‘Save as type:’ to “All files“.
7. Then, name this configuration file as “ei.cfg” and tap on “Save“.
Once you are done, you can manually run the “setup.exe” file from the extracted folder. You will not face the product key validation error message again.
Otherwise, you can burn these contents to a new ISO file or a USB drive to create a bootable drive and use it to install Windows on your system.
Fix 2 – Clean the Temp folder
If the existing temp folder contains corrupted files, you may witness this issue.
Step 1 – Run the disk cleanup
1. At first, press the Windows key+R keys together.
2. Then, type this code and click on “OK“.
3. When the Disk Cleanup opens up, choose the “C:” drive from the drop-down list.
4. Then, tap on “OK” to proceed.
Let Windows calculate the number of trash files present in the drive.
5. After that, tap on “Clean up system files“.
6. Again, set the “C:” drive from the list of drives.
7. After that, tap on “OK“.
8. Now, check all the boxes in the ‘Files to delete:’.
9. Then, tap on “OK“.
Now, Windows will clean up all the trash files from the drive.
Step 2 Empty the Temp folder
Next, empty the temp folder on your system.
1. At first, press the Windows key+E keys together.
2. Then, go this way –
3. After that, select all the files in the Temp folder.
4. Then, tap on the bin icon to remove all the files from the folder.
After that, close the File Explorer.
Now, run the setup file on your system.
Fix 3 – Run the setup with your product key
While running the setup using the Media Creation Tool and you have a retail key along with you, you can follow this simple workaround.
1. At first, press the Windows key and type “cmd“.
2. Then, right-click on the “Command Prompt” and tap on “Run as administrator“.
3. When the Command Prompt terminal appears as an administrator, you have to navigate to the ESD folder. Type this code in the terminal and hit Enter.
4. To start the setup with the product key, copy-paste this command and hit Enter.
setup /pkey xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx
[Just put in your key in place of “xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx” in the code.]
Now, follow the steps to complete the installation process easily.
Fix 4 – Skip the key validation step
The best way to solve this issue is to skip the key validation step and reactivate your Windows once the Windows is successfully installed on your system.
1. Run the setup file on your system.
2. When you reach the key validation step, just tap on the “Skip” or “I don’t have a product key” option.
Then, complete the installation without entering the product key.
3. After you have installed Windows, you can activate it following these steps –
System > Activation
4. Now, here input your 25-character retail product key and Windows will be activated.
This way, you can get around the “Setup has failed to validate the product key” error message.
Fix 5 – Remove the system from Domain
If the system you are trying to install Windows on a domain-connected system, try these steps.
1. At first, use a proper administrative account to log in to the Domain Controller system.
2. Here, access the Active Directory Users.
3. Then, tap on the “Computers“.
A list containing all the system objects will show up on the right-hand pane.
3. Just select the computer you are trying to install Windows on and tap on “Delete“.
Additional Tips –
1. The third-party antivirus you are using may be obstructing the setup process, mainly the product key activation system. So, disable the antivirus on your system.
2. Open the Command Prompt terminal with administrative rights. Then, run this scan there.
This scan, if detects something, automatically fixes it. Then, run the setup once again.
Sambit is a Mechanical Engineer By qualification who loves to write about Windows 10 and solutions to weirdest possible problems.