Preserving OEM Pre Activation Windows XP .pdf
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Preserving OEM Pre-Activation when Re-installing
3 minutes to read
By Stephanie Ybarra
Large PC Manufacturers known as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have the ability to pre-activate
Microsoft® Windows XP software installed on new PCs. As a result, end users are typically not required to activate
the software during the set up process by typing in the product key found on the Certificate of Authenticity attached
to the PC (COA Key).
In order to reduce a significant source of piracy, Microsoft has disabled online activation for COA Keys that are
attached to PCs that have been pre-activated by OEMs. This change should have a minimal impact on licensed users
who generally do not use their COA Key to activate the software because it has been pre-activated by the OEM.
However, if a licensed end user needs to activate because the OEM pre-activation does not work as expected (e.g.,
after the replacement of a defective motherboard) they can do so via phone-based activation.
To help minimize the potential impact on licensed users, this whitepaper provides steps licensed end users can take
to preserve OEM pre-activation when reinstalling the operating system using any of the four scenarios outlined
below (sysprep, OOBEinfo, manual and unattended).
The following product keys should be substituted for XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX in the solutions
Windows XP Professional 32 bit
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
Windows XP Professional x64 bit
For any of the solutions outlined below, you can verify that the OEM pre-activation has been preserved by clicking
Start -> Run and typing %SYSTEMROOT%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /A and then click OK. If the procedure
was successful, a message indicating that Windows has already been activated will be displayed.
Note: Instead of implementing any of the solutions outlined below, Volume License customers can use Volume
License media to install the same operating system that was licensed from an OEM without acquiring a volume
license for a PC being re-imaged. More information about this option is available here under “Re-Imaging Rights”:
http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/resources/volbrief.mspx. Because Volume License agreements do not provide a
full operating system license, Windows licenses should be acquired as part of the PC purchase from the PC
I. Using “sysprep –reseal –mini” Command
OEM pre-activation can be preserved when Sysprep.exe is run to reseal the system using the –reseal – mini switches
by following these steps.
Ensure the following three files are present in the C:\Sysprep folder: sysprep.exe, setupcl.exe, and
factory.exe. These files can be found in the deploy.cab which can be downloaded from the Microsoft®
download center available at this location:
Create a file named sysprep.inf using a text editor such as Notepad that contains the information shown
below substituting the appropriate product key.
Save the sysprep.inf file in the c:\sysprep\ folder.