Weird twist on a fairly basic problem - upgraded a motherboard on a windows XP system, ran repair install, and windows loads just fine. Click on a user account, windows says "you must activate to continue" and I click yes, windows loads the background image, and then fails to load the activation window. Safe mode doesn't work because windows is not yet validated, and windows is totally unresponsive to keyboard commands.

Anybody know this one?


I believe you NEED to do the 'activation by phone' since this the new hardware will unable you to receive a new key to successfully activate. You might have missed the step where it asks you what kind of activation procedure you want to run. If that doesn't work, try running the repair again as something might have gone south, I've had that happened before.

Did you replace a motherboard bought with the OEM license for your system? You might want to read this: (From http://www.michaelstevenstech.com/moving_xp.html)

Advisory: Changing a Branded OEM XP system motherboard to a non-factory replacement motherboard or moving a hard drive with OEM XP pre installed to a non-OEM system is not advised. The new OEM EULA states: The sale of XP OEM software is only allowed when accompanied with a complete computer. Defined as "We grant you a nonexclusive right to distribute an individual software license only with a fully assembled computer system. A "fully assembled computer system" means a computer system consisting of at least a central processing unit, a motherboard, a hard drive, a power supply, and a case." A non-password protected explanation can be accessed from the link below.

OEM Microsoft Windows (including XP Pro and XP Home) Licensing Changes You Need To Know About!

Two problem areas exist.

  1. Non-compliance with the OEM EULA.
  2. The OEM's practice of using a set of restore disks or hidden restore folders on the hard drive to satisfy Microsoft's restore requirement.

The first example can result in a denial of activation. The second means you have no media (i.e. no XP CD) to use for the repair install if it is necessary.

Generic OEM versions would seem to classify the builder of the computer as the OEM and as the OEM can determine what upgrades are allowed. See this link to confuse you even more. OEM

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  • 2
    He does need to activate by phone, but this doesn't really help him as the activation windows isn't loading properly, which is needed for phone activation. – Sam Cogan Jul 8 '09 at 17:10
  • nods at Sam Cogan exactly. – Happy Hamster Jul 8 '09 at 18:35
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    I believe I addressed that in my post, but oh well... – l0c0b0x Jul 8 '09 at 18:46
  • machines were both custom built, no OEM involved. – Happy Hamster Jul 8 '09 at 20:11

You install of Windows is hosed. In this case I would just give up on the repair option.

This is what I would do:

  1. Remove the hard drive from the machine it is currently in.
  2. Put the hard drive into another, working, computer that has some free storage.
  3. Copy off all the important files you want to save. (Bonus point for multiple copies on multiple media)
  4. Put the hard drive back in to the original computer.
  5. (Optional) Boot the computer with a DBAN CD, and run quick or zero mode on the drive.
  6. Perform a fresh install of Windows XP. When asked, do a full (not quick) NTFS format on the drive.
  7. Install the newest drivers from the hardware vendor's website.
  8. Copy your important files back over to your machine.

It works for me every time.

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