July 15, 2009

Windows XP Activation Fix

I ran across a situation where after doing a repair on Windows XP, the system thought the OS had not been activated and that my 30-day grace period was up. In addition, whenever I would click 'yes' I do want to go ahead and activate, the system would reboot itself. It is also not possible to activate from safe mode. I have read that this is something of a common problem with SP3.

It turns out that Microsoft has created an application for system administrators and PC makers that allows you to put the system into a 'factory mode'. The result is that you have an unactivated OS with a 30-day grace period to activate again.

The tool is called SysPrep which you can download with a set of tools provided in a cab file from Microsoft. Here are the steps to follow:

1.) Boot into safe mode with the command prompt option.
2.) Run 'explorer'.
3.) Export the files from the cab file into some location via 'My Computer'.
4.) Run the sysprep executable.
5.) Choose the "factory" option (the system will shut down when the operation completes).
6.) Boot into Normal mode.
7.) Restart the system again (your system may reboot automatically if you try to log in).
8.) You can now use Windows XP for 30 days and/or reactivate.

Note1: If the SysPrep window continues to open every time you restart, rename the folder where you saved the tool to something else.

Note2: This process is repeatable in the event your grace period expires or the activation gets confused again.

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