There's documentation on filemaker's site for this:
For: FileMaker Pro 6.0, 5.5, 5.0, 4.1, 4.0
Acquire the correct FileMaker Pro 8.5 License Key and then install FileMaker Pro 8.5
- Buy the License Key to complete installation. Upon payment of the incremental cost towards a full version of FileMaker Pro 8.5, you will receive a new License Key which will allow you to finish your installation
But as you've already realized, you can't buy license keys of 8.5 anymore, or 9, or 10, or 11, or 12 and soon to be 13. These products are also past their end of life for support, so the above page, filemaker support and this community are really in no position to offer a lot of assistance.
If you REALLY need filemaker 8.5, you may just want to find a place to purchase an old copy, like:
Otherwise, your time and money is much better spent updating to a version that isn't 11 years old already.
What are you ultimately trying to accomplish here?
If you want to get to the latest version, you have to convert to .fp7 first, using any version from 7-11 ( you can still download a version 11 trial for this purpose), then convert to .fp12 using any version from 12 and up.
Where does 8.5 factor into your plans?
What is keeping you from updating to FM15? It is a cheap thing to do with just a little bit of work to convert. I would suggest you do this and convert your files as needed. If you need help with he process I am sure there is plenty here.
What version of Windows are you using? Was it a supported version for 8.5? Some features of 8.5 may not work properly if you are using the wrong OS version.
I guess I am screwed. It seems that the FM Pro version 8 update only workS with version 7. Originally, FM knew people who bought this product and wanted to update from version 6 or prior would have problems, so they sold them an upgrade key. But, the upgrade keys are not available any longer.
My only hope is to buy an old upgrade key for version 8. I suspect this is legal because the key was a product into itself, and not the actual program.
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What FM Inc sold users of version 5.5 or earlier (or 6.0 after the time limited upgrade option expired) was a full licence to version 8.5. Those who had mistakenly bought the cheaper upgrade licence of 8.5 were not able to use it if their current version was too old. FM Inc allowed them to pay the difference in price between the upgrade and full licence. In effect, the user got a refund for their incorrect purchase of the upgrade and paid for the full licence instead. That allowed installation of 8.5 without any prior version of FileMaker Pro.
To upgrade an individually licensed copy of FileMaker Pro, the usual pattern is that you need to upgrade every 1, 2 or 3 versions, sometimes with time limits for 3 versions, or your old licence will be a dead end. The precise details vary between versions: some only accepted the two preceding versions with no extension to a third version; some only accepted the immediately preceding version after the time limit expired.
In this case: if you really want to be able to run version 8.5 using your upgrade key, you will need at least two intervening upgrade licences to get there from version 5.0. The first step is that you must upgrade to version 6.0. The second step is to upgrade to either version 7.0 or 8.0. From either of those you can upgrade to version 8.5.
If you can find one, it would probably be cheaper and easier to buy a full licence to version 7.0 or 8.0 and then upgrade it to 8.5, or buy a full licence to 8.5. (All from second hand sources, since FM Inc doesn't support those versions any more.) That would be independent of your 5.0 licence.
The question is still open as to why you specifically want to run version 8.5, apart from the fact you've managed to get an upgrade licence for that version (which is no use to you without a full licence to either version 7.0 or 8.0, or an upgrade to either of those versions from a permitted earlier version).
Note that 8.5 is old enough that it is not officially supported on Windows 7 or later.