What are the differences between different WATCHOUT keys and key versions

  • Is there need for a physical swap if a key is upgraded from version 5 → 6?
  • Are all version 5 keys the same?
  • Are all version 6 keys the same?

When WATCHOUT version 5 was released a physical swap was necessary when upgrading your key/keys from version 4 → version 5.

However, no physical swap is necessary when upgrading your key/keys from version 5 → version 6, as the upgrade can be made electronically. But in some cases a physical swap can be preferred nevertheless as some of the older models of keys have a tendency to break or other potential problems.

Below, you will find a detailed explanation of the different keys, their pros and cons:

an upgraded first generation v5 key is compatible with v4.5.1 and all v5 variants, electronically upgrading adds all v6 variants. i.e. three generations of compatibility

second generation key (no longer available — superseded 03–Jun–2019) is only compatible with v5.5.x and all v6 variants. i.e one and a half generations of compatibility.

A new third generation MicroKey (current offering) only supports all v6 variants, no legacy compatibility. 

The older style keys are larger and much easier to inadvertently physically damage.
- Keys kept inside the computer tend to last indefinitely (internal USB port)
- Keys plugged in on the outside eventually see damage (external USB port)
The Microkeys, while not impervious, tend to see lower damage rates than the older larger keys when used on external USB ports.
If you have working MicroKeys now (yes, there were v5 MicroKeys before v6) it makes no sense to swap them for less capable v6 only new MicroKeys.
Working or damaged v5 keys are accepted for v6 upgrade swap, bypassing the damaged key replacement fee if your key was not working.
First generation keys (two types)
Original WATCHOUT 5 key – includes 2 Gb nonvolatile storage
These were more delicate than later offerings why the recommendation is to swap them if you upgrade to version 6.
But they can, however, be electronically upgraded if you assume the risk (i.e. pay a damaged key replacement fee if the key later fails).


The first metal case v5 replacements remained first generation compatibility – includes 2 Gb nonvolatile storage.




Second generation silver metal keys - no non-volatile storage.

There are silver metal cased keys with no storage that are second generation compatibility. They look a bit like the ones pictured above, typically a bit shorter.

Second generation key / third generation key - MicroKey - no non-volatile storage.

Microkeys all look alike, both the second and third generation MicroKeys can not be distinguished visually.

Use WATCHOUT Production License Manager to confirm if they are either both v5.5.x and v6 (second generation) or v6 only(third generation).




Last Updated: 13 jun 2019 15:21