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Read the article that everyone's commenting on.
According to http://www.licenturion.com/xp/fully-licensed-wpa.txt, if a hardware component isn't present, XP activation should just set the relevent bit-field to all-zeros and still compute the hardware hash just fine. Indeed, there are other hardware components used in the hash which will very commonly not be present (e.g. SCSI host adapter ID string); and I find it very hard to believe that you're the first person to install XP on a computer without a network adaptor.
I've never been able to get an OEM key to even be accepted as valid using a retail install disk. More than once, we've had a client's system with a dead HD that needed XP reinstalled. Of course, they didn't have any media (computers typically don't include the media nowadays, and the hidden recovery partition is useless on a dead HD) so we tried our own install disks. (Which should be perfectly legal, as they had a valid key.) I don't recall the retail install ever accepting an OEM key as being valid.
We now have a set of "Gateway XP", "Dell XP", "Toshiba XP", and so on, to be used in these situations. (Perfectly legal, as I understand it, as they are only used to reinstall onto systems which have a license key on the case.)
I read somewhere that the installation media has a file on it which describes which type of key can be used.
Despite not having made any hardware changes I have to go through this (phone activation) every time I reformat XP Home. To make matters worse, each time I call their call center I get someone on the phone that can barely speak English. A major pain in the you-know-what.
Great article Leo. Many of us feel your pain. It's amazing that no one at Microsoft knows how to deal with a missing Installation ID. Don't they have a Knowledge Base where they can type "missing installation id". Certainly you're not the first person on the planet to run into this problem. That they couldn't figure out how to let a legal user run Windows is a disgrace. The moral of the story: it's nice to be a monopoly so you don't have to do a good job.
Hi Leo! Great newsletter - I always read it. My opinion (after 30 years writing code): Windoze is dead dead dead. 20 years from now, it'll be gone. Utter disdain for the user is why. A remarkable blend of arrogance and incompetence supported by a monopoly position: that is not the American way. That's why the stock price is flat. Ballmer sees it: that's why he wants to redeploy capital to buy Yahoo. Folks, I rest my case.
I also had the same problem but it wasnt Dell or any other brand it was an assambled PC. I Reinstall the windows and had the activation problem but it was more worst then yours. You can atleast go into Safe Mode!!! but with me it was not even going into Safe Mode.
So then finally i made a Format.
Good article,I had the misfortune of successfully transferring my XP home from a small drive to a larger drive only to end up having to phone in on a Saturday,after much ado the M$ agent said,call back Monday...*WELL*... I reformatted and used a copy and that was that ...I,ve never looked back and Linux,BSD are my main operating systems now...Linux has come of age now and you are really spoiled for choice,its fabulous...
For next time, you can avoid ALL of what you wrote about. I have had success with following the tip below, which I made note of from PC Magazine (11/5/02 issue):
"Don't reactivate after reinstalling. If you reinstall Windows XP, you normally have to reativate it, but there's a way around reactivation. Windows XP maintains the activation information in the file 'Wpa.dbl,' which you'll find in the Windows\System32 folder. After you activate, and any time you add hardware to your system, back up the file to another disk. If you need to reinstall Windows XP for any reason, go through the installation routine, then copy the latest version of Wpa.dbl to the Windows\system32 folder."
As a result of this tip, I've made it a practice to back up this file whenever I make a hardware change on each Windows XP computer I have (or work with, such as my wife's & children's). Unfortunately, I understand that Vista doesn't allow this easy step to avoid reactivation.
One solution to this problem is to make disk image backups.
Hey, I had the same problem about a month ago - same messages and everything. I just believed that it was a common thing as fixing it seemed relatively easy...reinstalling windows on friend's Dell PC, used original disks and key, hanged, rebooted, wouldn't activate (never noticed windows didn't see the network card - I've never had internet access on any XP install I've done until drivers are installed), booted into safe mode, gave up after the limitations there became apparent (couldn't be bothered calling MS)and so re-installed windows again, this time doing things differently - I can't remember how, but first install just didn't seem right, whether it was something wrong on my part I also don't know....anyways thatís my 50c to this article
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