• Make disk images, restore points, and backups of files and registry keys to repair your system if you fuck things up.
  • Activation: Crack Windows Product Activation  
The gory details of Windows Product Activation:
Discusses how to avoid, crack, and work around Windows Product Activation:

  • Activation: Install XP on multiple machines with a single license key  
1) Change the volume ID of your hard drive, change the MAC adress of your network card, switch off your CPU serial number, tell XP your computer is a docked notebook.
2) Activate XP.
3) Copy windows\system32\wpa.dbl to floppy, CD, USB stick, whatever.
4) Install XP on as many computers as you like, as long as they have the same amount of RAM as the computer rom which you copied wpa.dbl.
5) Repeat step 1 on the other computers, use the same numbers for volume ID and MAC address.
6) Plug the copy of wpa.dbl (from step 3) into your computers.

Details on

  • Activation: Reinstall without reactivation  
1) Back up windows\system32\wpa.dbl
2) Copy back after reinstallation

  • Activation: SLP (System Locked Pre-installation) OEM copy of XP on a computer with a non-matching motherboard  
From the DELL Product Activation FAQ:

If you install Windows XP by booting to the CD you will not have to activate your copy of Windows XP since it incorporates System Locked Pre-Installation (SLP). There are two scenarios that will cause you to have to activate Windows XP (...) If you install Windows XP by means other than booting to the CD.,,4065+7858,00.html

From the M$ Product Activation FAQ:

...the hardware hash used during activation is a combination of hash values of various PC components and cannot be used to determine the make or model of the PC, nor can it be backward-calculated to determine the raw PC information.

So if you boot from a floppy, rescue disk, USB stick, or anything but the OEM XP install CD, then insert your OEM XP install CD and run the setup program, you'll have to activate XP by calling the activation helpdesk. And they won't know you installed your OEM copy of XP on non-qualifying hardware unless you tell 'em...


  • Activation: Stop windows from asking for the windows installation cd  
Copy the i386 folder from your win xp cd to your hard disk (~500 MB, but you can cut a few hundred MB with nLite or manual purging)

  • Activation: Valid license key, someone's else's CD  
A Pid is built from two parts.
The first 5 digits (the "product code") define the version of XP.
The last 3 digits (the "channel ID") define the license type.
The product code should match your installation disk, the channel ID should match your license key.

Example, 55285007 is the Pid for a retail (007) version of XP Pro (55285).
If you change it to 55285OEM, you can use a retail XP Pro disk with an OEM XP Pro key.
Product codes and channel IDs can be mixed and matched in various (but not all) combinations.

You can not combine an XP Home license with an XP Pro disk or vice versa.

Large computer manufacturers like Dell use "royalty OEM" Pids that don't require activation. This allows them to clone hard drives without having to activate each individual copy. The key on your CoA sticker is only used when you reinstall XP. Small stores use the "generic OEM" version.

To change the Pid of an XP install disk:

1) Copy entire CD to hard disk.
2) Open the setupp.ini file in the i386 folder with Notepad.
3) Change the "Pid" value to match your Product Key. See below for details.
4) Save the edited setupp.ini file.
5) Make bootable CD image with a program like nLite and burn a new XP install disk.

The list below is far from complete. Check the Pid on your own copy of setupp.ini to find out which numbers you need to build a custom install disk.
To find the Pid for a running copy of XP, right-click "My Computer" and select "Properties." Look for the first 8 digits under "Registered to..." in the "General" tab.

More info:

Product codes:
55274: XP Pro (generic or volume license OEM)
55276: XP Pro upgrade, possibly also XP Home
55277: XP Home (generic OEM)
55285: XP Pro, possibly also XP Home upgrade
55372: XP Home German (OEM)
55375: XP Pro German (volume license)
55661: XP Pro (retail)
55677: XP Home Dutch
55679: XP Pro Dutch
76392: XP Pro Danish
76396: XP Pro (also Home?) Dutch
76412: XP Home French (OEM)
76413: XP Pro French (OEM)
76440: XP Pro Norwegian (retail)
76460: XP Home Spanish (royalty OEM)
76470: XP Home Traditional Chinese (royalty OEM)
76475: XP Home (upgrade) ?
76477: XP Home (royalty OEM)
76487: XP Media Center Edition 2005, XP Pro (royalty OEM), XP Pro (volume license, with '640' channel ID)
76500: XP Media Center Edition 2005 (XP Pro with domains disabled)
76588: XP Pro x64 (OEM)

Channel IDs:
OEM: OEM (the only channel ID with letters instead of numbers)
000: other (includes some retail, upgrade and evaluation versions)
006: special promotions, e.g. the "Go Pro" promotion
007: retail
009: not for resale - bundle
011, 012: XP Home upgrade
071: unknown - possibly an SP2 integrated install
270: volume license
296: MSDN
308, 347 : M$ Action Pack subscription
335 : retail
640-648, 652: volume license (usually generated via 270 CID in setupp.ini)
699: Windows XP Tablet Edition (Volume)

  • Installation: Clone XP - How to make hard drive cloning work  
Install XP on one computer, make a drive image, transfer to another computer. That usually fails because of driver issues, but has a method to deal with the hard drive controller issue. Boot from the cloned drive and update all your other drivers to match the new hardware.

Make sure you have a drive imaging app installed or ready to run from a CD/DVD/USB stick without rebooting: your drive imaging app must be able to image a running system partition.
Drive image apps on Linux boot disks will NOT work, so use a program like DriveImage XML (free) or Acronis TrueImage (expensive).

Before you start, make a backup image of your system partition so you can easily undo al the changes after you've cloned your drive.

1) Make a folder on your system drive (let's assume it's drive C) called SYSPREP

2) Extract the contents of [xp install cd]:\SUPPORT\TOOLS\DEPLOY.CAB to C:\SYSPREP

3) Run the sysprep wizard:
b) Choose "create a new answer file"
c) Pick the right version of windows
d) Click yes to "fully automate the installation."
e) Enter your product key
f) Leave the computer name field empty
g) Set the other options the way you want them

When you've gone through the wizard you'll end up with a file called sysprep.inf in your sysprep folder.

Important: Do NOT reboot your computer until you've finished all the steps below!

4) Set up the standard IDE driver for your hard drive (it may be using an exotic driver that's not compatible with the hardware of the clone), since almost  every motherboard supports the standard IDE controller.
a) Download
b) Copy these files to c:\window\system32\drivers: atapi.sys, intelide.sys, pciide.sys, pciidex.sys
Files that are already there do not need to be replaced.
c) Merge idedrivers.reg that comes with the download into your registry.

If the download link doesn't work, search Google for and mergeide.reg (or idedrivers.reg).
You can also extract the driver files from on your XP CD.

5) Open regedit and delete HKLM\SYSTEM \MountedDevices.

6) Make sure that these files are in your windows\system32 folder: hal.dll, halstd.dll, halacpi.dll, halmacpi.dll
Expand missing hal files from your XP CD if necessary.

7) Tell the boot loader about the choice of hardware abstraction layers by editing the hidden, locked file boot.ini to look like:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Standart PC" /fastdetect /hal=halstd.dll
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="ACPI PC" /fastdetect /hal=halacpi.dll
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="ACPI Uniprocessor PC " /fastdetect /hal=halmacpi.dll

Do NOT reboot after editing boot.ini.

8) Fire up the run box from the start menu and run c:\sysprep\sysprep

9) Make a drive image.

Remember NOT to reboot your system before you've made the image.

10) Transfer the drive image to another computer, check if it boots, and update the drivers.

  • Installation: Install "XP Pro Lite" from an XP Home disk  
You can turn an XP Home disk into a XP Pro installation disk. It's not a real XP Pro but more like an 'XP Pro Lite.'

Missing features:
- Group Policy Editor. Alternative:
- IIS Web Server. Alternatives: & or try to install IIS on XP Home
- Netware Client
- Tasklist command
- Taskkill command. Alternative: PsKill from

Among the features you gain by converting your setup disk are:
- Security Tab
- NTFS encryption
- Multi-processor support
- The ability to connect to NT domains.

Do NOT use an SP2 installation disk. You can slipstream SP2 into your setup files AFTER converting XP Home into XP Pro Lite, but you can't convert an XP installation disk if it already contains SP2.

The XP repair tool can't repair XP Pro Lite.

M$ may make a patch to disable XP Pro Lite. Think twice before you visit Windows Update and switch off automatic updates.

1) Copy the i386 folder from your XP CD to your HD

2) Edit i386\ :
a) Open regedit and highlight HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
b) Click "File" > "Load Hive"
c) Load \i386\
d) Call it custompro
e) Highlight HKLM\custompro\ControlSet001\Services\setupdd
f) Edit the default entry and change 01 to 00 and 02 to 00 (make sure you change the numbers without adding extra numbers)
g) Highlight custompro and click "File" > "Unload Hive"

3. Make a bootable XP CD with a tool like nLite; nLite also lets you slipstream drivers, service packs and other updates into your install disk.

4. Install and activate XP as usual. Your XP Home Key will work on your home-made Pro version.

You can use the tweaked i386 folder to upgrade an existing installation of XP Home to XP Pro Lite.
If you upgrade XP Home to XP Pro Lite, you'll have to reactivate.
You can't upgrade XP Home to XP Pro Lite if you've already installed SP2.

  • Installation: Make your own XP install disk  
If your (OEM) copy of XP came with a "recovery" disk or partition that wipes your system back to fresh-from-the-factory state, make your own install CD.

You'll need an i386 folder (few hundred megabytes, thousands of files) for this. It should be on your recovery partition, recovery disk, or in c:\, c:\windows, or c:\windows\system32.

If you don't have an i386 folder you can't build your own install CD, unless you can copy an i386 folder from someone else with the same version (Home/Pro, OEM/retail) of XP.

1 ) If you have XP Home, copy your i386 folder to:


  If you have XP Pro, copy your i386 folder to:


Yes, you'll have to make this stack of folders first

2) Download and extract (the boot sector of your new XP install CD) from into the c:\bcd folder

3) Download and extract (a very simple CD burner/drive image maker) from into the c:\bcd folder.

4) Put wnaspi.dll (a CD burner driver) from in c:\bcd\bin. Yes, you'll have to make the bin folder first.

5) Turn your installation files into an .iso file:
a) Open a command prompt (not a run box)
b) Navigate to c:\bcd
c) If you have XP Home, run:

  bcd -b wxphome

  If you have XP Pro, run:

  bcd -b wxppro

6) If you want to slipstream your hardware drivers into your install disk:
a) Extract the .iso file to a folder. Free program to extract .iso files:
b) Copy your hardware drivers with DriverBackup:
c) Slipstream your drivers (and Service Pack 2 if needed) into your .iso file with nLite:
Service Pack 2:

7) Make a bootable CD from you .iso file. The free CD burner on can make bootable CDs.

8) Backup your system before you test your new XP install disk. Free program to backup your system:

Other methods to turn an i386 folder into an XP install CD:

  • Installation: Reinstall XP and keep all your current installed applications and settings  
1) Start Windows XP
2) Open acommand prompt
3) Navigate to the folder with your setup files
4) Run WINNT32 /unattend

  • Registration: Change the registered owner  
1) Open regedit and go to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion
2) Change the name in Registered Owner

  • Registration: Stop XP from asking for registration again & again  
1) Reboot to Safe mode or switch off Windows File Protection
2) Rename
Renaming regwizc.dll blocks other windows components from registering XP
3) Open regedit and go to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion
4) To make XP believe it's registered, set RegDone to 1

  • Validation: License validation if M$ thinks your license is not legit  
A couple of methods to fool WGA validation:

"Many people continue to validate on the Microsoft website from a public computer using a genuine copy of Windows, then write down the hash and continue to use it at home or work. As of July, 2006, Microsoft has not devised a way to prevent this method of circumvention."

  • XP licensing: Changes in activation, validation, licensing  
September, 2004
Introduction of "Windows Genuine Advantage" (WGA). Initially only required to download extra XP components, later required for all XP updates, including security patches (although there are ways to get security patches without WGA). WGA does not come with an uninstaller.

February 28, 2005
(Re)activaton of OEM XP copies from major OEM vendors requires activation by phone. Applies to all branded OEM copies, including those bought before the change.

July, 2005
"Windows Genuine Advantage" (WGA) became mandatory for all Windows updates, including security patches (although there are ways to get security patches without WGA). WGA does not come with an uninstaller.

September, 2005
OEM licenses can only be sold if preinstalled on a "fully assembled computer system" (cpu, motherboard, hard drive, power supply, and case). Used to be "together with non-peripheral hardware." This change only applies to vendors of OEM copies of XP, not to end users. Licenses bought before the change remain valid.

November, 2005
Rollout of WGA Notifications in some countries: a nag screen that screams "thief" if M$ believes your copy of XP is not legit. Does not come with an uninstaller, but can be removed manually or with a 3rd party uninstaller.

February 28, 2006
OEM licenses tied to the motherboard. Only applies to new licenses that explicitly state that the license is tied to the motherboard.

April 25, 2006
Global rollout of WGA Notifications: a nag screen that screams "thief" if M$ believes your copy of XP is not legit. Does not come with an uninstaller, but can be removed manually or with a 3rd party uninstaller.

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