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Xp Home And Product Key Problem


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#1 Gothmog

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 02:44 PM

I have had my version of XP home installed on my comp for roughly 3 years. Now I want to make a clean install on my new HD and use my old HD as a slave. This means I need to install XP from the disk all over again, the problem is that my disk has been misplaced. And after 3 years its probably been lost never to be seen again. However I do have the 25 digit product key stuck onto the side of my case so I still technically own the OS with proof, but with no disk. I have tried to install w/ SP2 both OEM and Retail versions, but when I enter my product key it says it is invalid. I even tried it with SP1 retail with same results. Are the product keys linked only to certain install versions of XP? I am also slightly confused by the number in the system properties window in the "Registered to:" field below my name. Is that related to my product key and name or what? It does have the letters OEM in the code, but it looks nothing like an XP product key. I thought that since I paid for the OS separate that I would have bought retail version not OEM.

Also while I've got you reading this, I was wondering if I would have any problem activating XP once I install it on the new drive. Since I bought the OS with my comp from a local builder they took care of OS install and activation (I assume since I didn't do it) and I have no idea about the rules regarding activation of the same copy again on the same comp

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#2 mcheraghimn

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 05:07 PM

I think that you must format your hard drive(the partition which the windows is installed on that(first backup from your necessary data),then try to install windows.

#3 Gothmog

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 10:34 PM

I have tried to install windows on a newly created primary partition. I dont need to format my currnet drive b/c I am switching my OS to my newer larger HD.
The problem isn't installing windows though, it is the product key. I get all the way thru the language and region settings until the product key screen. It tells me to enter the 25 digit key "on the back of my windows folder". I use the 25 digit product key from the M$ sticker on the side of my comp case and it tells me it is invalid. I have tried my product key on SP2 SP1 retail and OEM and nothing goes thru the product key page. Is there a reason M$ would only allow an old product key to install with an old build of the windows install disk? Do they write a new product key recognition algorithm for every version they release?

#4 rubiconeye

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 01:44 AM

hi, gothmoq,

if you still have your 'own' version of xp installed on one of your hd's, download and run 'system information for windows', a free download i believe you will get at 'download.com'.

check with this programme that the 25 digit key on your own installed oem version is the same as the 25 digit key on the case of your computer. i know on my legit copy the case key is different to the key shown in programmes like SIW.

goog luck

#5 Gothmog

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 04:27 AM

thanks for the tip on the neat tool. unfortunately your theory doesn't apply to me. the "product key" matches the one I tried to enter. It did identify that 20 digit number with OEM in it as "serial number" so at least I learned something.

#6 phantazy

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 05:50 AM

As you have proved that the key codes are the same,I would call Microsoft about this and place the problem firmly at their door.

#7 Albert Frankenstein

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 06:31 AM

check with this programme that the 25 digit key on your own installed oem version is the same as the 25 digit key on the case of your computer.

Sometimes the product key used on your computer is NOT the same as the one on the sticker, and this is normal. When large computer manufacturers install Windows the first time on your computer, they may be using a sort of Master Key for the first install. Subsequent installs must use the key found on the sticker that belongs to that particular machine, and will only work with the EXACT version of Windows that was originally installed.
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#8 Notorious

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 03:49 PM

Hi Gothmog.. :thumbsup:
You can also open i386 folder (in windows folder) and locate winn.sif file. Open it with notepad and you'll see what product key is.. When you insert the Windows install disk in CD drive, select option Preform aditional tasks--> Browse this CD-->I386--> winn.sif.
Hope this will help..
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#9 Enthusiast

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 04:02 PM

You can get the product key for the installation that is on your computer by downloading Keyfinder from magicaljellybean.com

An OEM key will not work with a retail version install and vice versa.

Most hard drive manufacturers provide a migration tool to migrate everything that is on the hard drive that you are replacing to the new hard drive.

If it did not come on a cd with the new hard drive it can be downloaded from the hard drive manufacturer's support site. If you migrate everything from the old hard drive to the new one you should not have to reinstall Windows or deal with the product key entry at all.

This should work if the only thing you are changing is the hard drive. Multiple device changes or any motherboard change will trigger your need to activate Windows. This in itself is ok, but if you bought an oem computer with Windows preinstalled (which seems to be the case designated by the "OEM" designation in your Windows key) you cannot transfer Windows if there is a new motherboard involved.

The "Registered to" field actually serves no purpose as far as the Windows license goes. If you bought a computer with an OEM license it is good only on the original computer and not legally transferable to a different computer, and MS considers an out of warranty motherboard change to be a "new" computer. Not so for the hard drive, so you should not have an unresolvable problem.

Edited by Enthusiast, 03 September 2006 - 04:09 PM.


#10 Gothmog

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 07:02 PM

if you bought an oem computer with Windows preinstalled (which seems to be the case designated by the "OEM" designation in your Windows key) you cannot transfer Windows if there is a new motherboard involved.

I bought my computer from a local small computer shop. As I remember it, I got the XP Home 'a la carte' since I was gettin one of their high end specials. I guess they left out the OS to keep the advertised price down. I thought I got the full version of windows, since I paid for it, and they were just helpful enough to install it and burn in the comp and get rid of any bugs. I guess I got the full OEM version(if that is not an oxymoron) like you can buy on Newegg because I got the disk, along with all my drivers disks et alia. I have a sticker on my case from the shop that says it was built Jan 15 2003. Do you think that I would need an original XP Home OEM disk w/ no service packs to install and then update to SP2?

Most hard drive manufacturers provide a migration tool to migrate everything that is on the hard drive that you are replacing to the new hard drive.

I do have the tools to copy and move a whole partition, but my purpose in this exercise was to have a fresh, clean copy of XP installed because my current version is so cluttered and clogged with 3 years worth of careless uninstallers and my irresponsible additions of startup tasks. I realize I could fix the problem, but I would much rather install anew and build from the ground up.

Multiple device changes or any motherboard change will trigger your need to activate Windows.

Is this how M$ is able to track whether you are installing on multiple machines? If I do actually get thru an install and then it tells me to activate XP, will it deny me b/c its already been activated once? Does it even matter that I'm on the same computer? The activation process is something of a mystery to me, since I never had to go through it.

I realize that the answers to this problem are hard to come by.(You would probably only know them if you did the exact same thing I did, which is highly improbable) I often come up with the most absurdly unique questions/problems that calling them bizzarre would be an understatement. I'll take phantazy's advice and bother M$ with a the problem, which will most likely mean that I'll get no good answer and just go darkside and find a way to bootleg the thing I already paid money for.

Thank you all

#11 Enthusiast

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 09:45 PM

As long as it is activated using the same motherboard (with the same mac number used on the original installation), andthe only change is the hard drive, you should have no problem activating if required.
You may have to do it over the phone using the toll free phone number that will appear on your screen should electronic activation fail, but again, that should not be a problem.

Buying an oem version for a machine that was custom built as you explained is completely legitimate. Most of us here do exactly that when we build our own computers.

There is no difference between the retail version and the OEM versions except the OEM license is good only on the original computer it was first installed on (actually the motherboard of the original computer) and cannot be transfered to a new computer and the fact that the retail version entitles you to support from Microsoft. The primary reason that the oem version costs a lot less than the retail version is that you provide your own support (except for Windows Updates, etc)

When your system is activated it transmits essentially what are the mac numbers of its main components which then remain on file with MS and thereafter is identified by those mac numbers and a file is placed in your computer identifying it as a genuine installation.
You can change any one component over a specific period of time (except the motherboard) without triggering a need for reactivation.

Edited by Enthusiast, 03 September 2006 - 09:51 PM.


#12 Gothmog

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 03:16 AM

well then its a good thing I don't want to spend any more money on this old comp, cuz the mobo would be the next thing to do. I have added a new HD (as stated above) and upgraded my ATI Radeon 9000 Pro for a ATI Radeon x800 XL. I thought about upgrading piece by piece, but quit when I decided to try and build a new system next Jan.

So, just to clarify this oem/ retail thing you explained to me, I can use and activate an OEM version as many times as I want as long as it is on the same Mobo and I'm only screwed when the mobo dies or I want to upgrade it. However for $100 more (retail xp home $199.99 oem $89.99) I can take my OS with me when I either upgrade the mobo or build an entirely new system.

thanks for reminding me of M$ evil product life cycle schemes, I'm sure I knew all this 4 years ago when XP was new and this was more shocking than it is now. This does bring up one last questtion(hopefully) regarding the retail upgrade disk. Can I jsut spend the extra $10 (XP Home Upgrade with SP2 - Retail $99.99) to get the upgrade disk and install over 98 or ME and have the same flexibility of the $199 retail version?

-edit PS and having the OEM version also means that you have to pay $35 to tell them that their product doesnt work. You're damn right about providing your own support, I can't even send an email thru their online help and support telling them I can't use the product I paid them for. bleh

Edited by Gothmog, 04 September 2006 - 03:34 AM.


#13 Enthusiast

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 04:30 AM

So, just to clarify this oem/ retail thing you explained to me, I can use and activate an OEM version as many times as I want as long as it is on the same Mobo and I'm only screwed when the mobo dies or I want to upgrade it. However for $100 more (retail xp home $199.99 oem $89.99) I can take my OS with me when I either upgrade the mobo or build an entirely new system.


The retail upgrade can only be used on a retail installation of a previous operating system that can be upgraded to the version you want (Basically, a home version can be upgraded to a Home or Pro product but a Pro product will not upgrde to a "Home" version)

IE - A retail version of W98 can be upgraded to XP Home (upgrade version). It will keep all your W98 settings and profiles.

So, just to clarify this oem/ retail thing you explained to me, I can use and activate an OEM version as many times as I want as long as it is on the same Mobo and I'm only screwed when the mobo dies or I want to upgrade it. However for $100 more (retail xp home $199.99 oem $89.99) I can take my OS with me when I either upgrade the mobo or build an entirely new system.


You can reinstall the OEM system as many times as you need to on the same computer (same motherboard). You can reinstall the retail version as many times as necessary on the same OR an upgraded, new computer you build (or have custom built) but for a new computer or motherboard you will need to explain to MS that you removed the op system from the computer/motherboard you originally had it on (or the computer became unfunctional).

One other fact - Microsoft will discontinue support on XP Home two years after the next replacement (Vista) is released. (New Critical Updates and patches will stop being produced as they now have for W98 and WME.

Another consideration -The Pro versions have an additional five years of extended support which means that Critical Updates and patches will be available five years longer then they will for the Home versions, making them worth the extra money even not considering the increased security and functionality Pro versions provide (Pro = Business products)




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