All of the workstations are XP Pro oem from Dell. I need to reinstall XP and all I have access to are the MSDN copies of XP. I found a page on Dell's website where they would send you a free copy of a reinstall disk for what ever system. I tried to do that but I just got an email saying the system is too old (~5 years). Money isn't an issue its time... I just need a way to get XP back onto these systems. The key is right there on the system taunting me.

  • Just to elaborate: There reason you can't use the MSDN installation discs is because the Dell key's won't work with them. – Mark Henderson Jul 20 '10 at 5:27
  • Yeah I understand why it won't work. Just seeing there is a work around out there. – evolvd Jul 20 '10 at 5:42

Windows XP has three kinds of product keys:

  • OEM product keys, which will activate once, and are tied to specific hardware,
  • Retail product keys, which come from discs bought in stores or purchased online,
  • and Volume License product keys, which large businesses use to activate their machines.

Since Dell preinstalled Windows for you, those workstations have OEM product keys. Unfortunately, you need an OEM Windows XP Professional disc in order to activate using your product keys. There are a number of routes that you can take in order to get an OEM disc.

  • Buy a "System Builder" kit for Windows XP Professional. Made for people using barebones systems to build their own computers, it will include an OEM disc. Since Windows XP is long in the tooth, this might be difficult to find. This would be the easiest solution though, as the disc included should "just work" with your product keys.
  • Modify an existing Windows XP CD to accept your OEM product keys. You would need to modify the file setupp.ini and then re-burn the disc, as explained at http://www.petri.co.il/use_oem_version_to_upgrade_xp.htm. If you do a clean install as opposed to an upgrade, you should not run into the issues described there.
  • Contact Microsoft and try to get an OEM disc from them. There is a long KB article that includes information about getting replacement OEM media in cases where your computer's manufacturer has gone out of business or refuses to provide discs.
  • I forgot you could edit the setupp.ini. That will do the trick, thanks. – evolvd Jul 20 '10 at 19:57
  • what about torrenting an OEM cd and using legitimate product keys with it? – iainlbc Aug 31 '11 at 19:50

In my experience the latest OEM Dell XP disc downloaded from a popular nautically themed torrent site works a treat!

The Dell disc looks for Dell hardware, if it is present it installs without entering a serial.

Is it best practice - no

Is it quick - yes

  • Crossed my mind, trying to avoid it though. – evolvd Jul 20 '10 at 19:58

You already own those workstations, and their respective XP OEM licences. It makes absolutely no sense IMO, to purchase another OEM Licence. AND BTW... Anyone who believes that buying an OEM licence for this purpose relives you of any copyright violations, is very mistaken. Officially Only an actual OEM, that resells, can use those licences. MS has a whole page devoted to how DIYers, hobbyists and home users CANNOT use OEM licences and comply with their copyright. This change in terms is somewhat new, but still applicable for newly sold/packaged software.


SO, for whatever your reason, if it is important be 100%. Your best option would be to get new media from MS. As your OEM refuses to fulfill their obligations. Truthfully, you rightfully own a licence and paying for a new one is wrong on principle alone.


If you feel self-righteous enough, and I would, go to the `bay. get new stock OEM media and use that already legit licence. Or, if possible borrow a friend's dell media. I feel no need to unconditionally support MS in anyway, I use GNU/Linux. Either way, I wouldn't feel bad Locating new media for software I'm legally licensed.

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