I need to virtualize an IBM Laptop that one of the engineers at my company uses. The hardware is on it's last legs and setting up a new computer from scratch is not an option as it'd be too time consuming to reinstall and reconfigure all the software on it.

So, I converted it using vconverter and upon reboot it prompts me to re-activate windows.

Based on research, I understand I need to pay for a new license key. How do you do this? From research, there are apparently not only OEM locked but BIOS locked copies of windows...

I tried a valid XP key I got from our technet subscription just to see what would happen and it wouldn't work.

So, I'm assuming I have a little more work todo then just buy a new retail version of XP. Can anyone tell me what the process is?

EDIT: I performed a repair install as the accepted answer suggested. This process was very time consuming but it did work. .NET needed to be reinstalled and most of the software had to be reactivated which was a pain.

  • I've done this (P2V for WinXPPro) with System Center Virtual Machine Manager and not had to reactivate. Which in retrospect, seems curious not that I think about it. Maybe something that MS is doing in System Center's conversion keeps the system from requiring re-activation. There might be a different process that MS allows you to use to accomplish this same task?
    – MikeAWood
    Aug 8, 2011 at 22:17
  • @Mike, that certainly sounds like a better approach. Repairing an installation of windows was very time consuming. If you ever confirm that was the case please post back... I don't have those tools.
    – blak3r
    Aug 15, 2011 at 2:14
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    @sysadmin1138: I revised the posting to be less superuser like. I think this is a useful question here. As this is something most sysadmins encounter these days.
    – blak3r
    Aug 16, 2011 at 5:06
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    @sysadmin1138: I can't wrap my head around how this question is Too Localized. Anyone going from a IBM, Dell, etc to virtual is going to encounter this. I don't think the solution is obvious that the fix is you have to reinstall windows. I assumed that this was something that was so common there was an easier way. Consequently, spent a lot of time searching for an answer. I respect that you are trying to improve the signal to noise ratio on ServerFault. But, this isn't noise. If you think it varies too much between mfgs, an explanation of that would make a good answer to this question.
    – blak3r
    Aug 17, 2011 at 5:08
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    @blak3r And here I am, in the same situation today. Windows XP OEM following a P2V... and there's no cleaner solution. This should probably be reopened.
    – ewwhite
    Nov 26, 2014 at 4:42

2 Answers 2


You need to buy a full or volume licence version of the same windows product and do a repair install over the top of the oem one. This will then allow you to activate with the new key.

Keys are specific to the version - oem, std, VL, etc. This is why your technet key won't work with the oem install.

Boot from the new install cd and choose the 2nd repair option - http://tweaks.com/windows/36955/how-to-do-a-repair-install-of-xp/

  • I really hoping your wrong... but I suspect you aren't. Because don't you usually have to reinstall most your applications after a repair install? Or by the time I reinstall I could be 50% done setting up a new box.
    – blak3r
    Aug 8, 2011 at 19:09
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    no, a repair install will keep all your settings and programs. Boot off the XP cd and choose the 2nd repair option
    – JamesRyan
    Aug 8, 2011 at 21:02

phone up microsoft, they can sort you out pretty quickly generally, just explain that you converted physical to virtual and more than happy to pay for a new license, they can advise the process if any to resolve the issue, but if your other key didnt work i suspect there is a much bigger issue at play than locked licenses

  • Who calls people anymore? hehe I'm concerned it's a larger issue also but thought this was a pretty common usecase.
    – blak3r
    Aug 8, 2011 at 19:05
  • I have tried this , multiple times, and got nowhere. Aug 19, 2014 at 4:27

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