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"Windows Product Activation" prompt on nLite-installed XP -


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Hi all,

I did a search through the forums and found a handful of threads about this topic, but I'm looking for a more general answer (to start with) than those threads. My apologies if this is an over-asked question.

Backstory: I created an nLite build based on OEM XP Install CD with SP2 integrated. Usual disclaimers, I have the original CD and OEM sticker that came with the exact computer I'm installing it on. I built the key into the installer image too.

The process was quite smooth, and the resulting install is a joy to use - the computer boots very quickly! (around 30 seconds).

All of a sudden however, it now pops up with a message when I log on: "Windows Product Activation: This copy of Windows must be activated with Microsoft blah blah blah".

I'm given three choices, Yes, No, Cancel. Cancel shuts down the PC. No lets me log on normally. I haven't dared clicking Yes yet.

So, my questions are:

Did I do something wrong with the nLite process, or something just recently?

How many "Nos" do I get?

What the heck do I do about this?



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I don't have enough info from your post to know, but I can give you a couple of guesses.

It depends on what kind of OEM install CD you have.

If it is one supplied by a white-box system installer or purchased from a retail store, then you will have 30 days to activate your installation. (The CD key is only part of the process.) In this case, you won't see a message at logon telling you you need to activate until about three weeks have passed. You'll have about a week of use from your PC from that point before you will be locked out of Windows until you activate -- or re-install to a freshly-formatted drive.

If you have an OEM CD that comes with the systems built by Dell or HP or Gateway, etc., then those CDs will only work with the original motherboards without reactivation, as I understand it.

In either case, changing the motherboard is considered changing the computer. If the OEM copy was previously installed and activated with that CD key, Microsoft will expect you to buy a new copy of Windows. --Joel

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I believe that you have been bitten by the bug that Microsoft apparently refuses to admit:

Windows XP refuses to give a grace period, Windows XP immediately demands activation and if you click no, you get logged out immediately. If you tell it to activate online, it's likely just gonna go right to "Windows was unable to activate online.", especially if you have a POTS internet connection. (56k or lower)

With this bug, Windows XP don't even dial my modem! :realmad:

Apparently under some conditions, Windows XP ignores POTS internet connections.

You may be required to get an ethernet-linked internet connection, just to activate!

While this bug may be triggered by nLite, it's known to occur when not nLited.

Also, I forgot to tell you that with this bug, you will know that you have been bitten, because OOBE will get stuck and you only have an account called "Administrator".

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Thanks guys. What's OOBE? (I'm new at working with XP at this low-level)

Anyway, I clicked "Yes" and received this message:

"A problem is preventing Windows XP from accurately checking this installation... Error #0x80004005"

Does that provide any more information?

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Also, I forgot to tell you that with this bug, you will know that you have been bitten, because OOBE will get stuck and you only have an account called "Administrator".

Ah! That explains what had happened to me the first time I had installed the OS. I told nLite to automatically create an account for me. However, on first bootup, all I had was "Administrator", like you said. I didn't think anything of it at the time. I'm using a USB-Ethernet adaptor which wasn't plugged in. I plugged it in to install the driver afterwards, and left it plugged in.

I then did a reinstall for something unrelated, with the adaptor still plugged in. Voila, my default user was created for me. If I understand correctly, it's because XP was able to attempt its registration properly (even though it failed), and OOBE ran as it should.

Not like any of this was visible or reported at the time :rolleyes:

So, my next question for the group. Once I've done a reinstall, how do I *confirm* that the registration worked properly? Can I simply put the computer's date ahead 30+ days?

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For a preactivated XP, you are not supposed to use the key on your box but those found on MS's site.


Proper Link: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechn...y/oempreac.mspx

I'm a bit confused by that page - how am I supposed to do any of those tasks since I can't log in to the computer any more?

Furthermore, I'd prefer to do a complete wipe of the HD before reinstalling the OS. All those methods require stuff to be left on the hard drive or registry. Any tricks I can use in that case?

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Fixed it!! :D :D :D :D

I was still able to access the computer's hard drive over the network as \\computername\C$ - thank goodness.

So, I copied the entire windows\system32\oobe\ folder and subfolders from another XP SP2 machine onto mine over the network. Then next time when I logged in and got the activation prompt, I clicked "Yes" and the activation program came up normally. Activated with no problems, and msoobe.exe /a now reports that the computer is activated.

No reinstall necessary - phew! :w00t:

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