Defrosting WinXP WPA „non-issues“

Sorry – heute mal auf englisch.

So – the other day I defrosted a Windows XP SP2 installation from an image that has been in statis for about 4 years. It was restored to the exact same computer, namely (hold tight!) a Bootcamp partition on my trusty old MacBook.
Which is actually easier said than done when there’s not only one main OSX partition on that Mac, but actually four (Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, and Lion). I’ll document this endeavor in another blog some day, unraveling the false myth that the Bootcamp assistant is the only way to create a partition suitable to hold a Windows XP installation … and what else can go wrong while trying.

Anyhoo – of course I have a fully legitimate XP license for that Bootcamp XP. Or, better said: I had. After I had lost interest in Bootcamp in 2007, I vividly remember that I re-used that particular license code on some totally different XP box, namely on my VMware Fusion XP-VM that I am still using on occasion. So – that XP license code is taken, the corresponding XP installation is activated, end of story.

But still: As the Bootcamp XP came out of WinClone sub-zero hibernation, it did not find anything to be unusual. … Well, why should it, it came back to the exact same hardware environment, with only the one small exception of a bigger hard-drive. So fact is: The defrosted Bootcamp XP came out fully activated and likewise fully functional.

But isn’t this doomed to be bad luck some day when both „X.P. phone home“ and Microsoft notices that I used the same license code for both? Bummer.

So I obtained a second license, which luckily can be bought as a peeled-off license sticker with an arbitrary OEM installation CD for about 10 bucks nowadays on Ebay. After I got that, I tried to revoke my previous activation and then re-activate the Bootcamp XP with the new license code, just to be on the safe side.

Let’s see – Google helps, and the mothership tells us how to achieve this: Fiddle around a little bit in the registry in HKLM\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\Current Version\WPAEvents\OOBETimer, and suddenly the activation should crash to the ground and request to be renewed.

… Just – it didn’t! I couldn’t force that XP to go through the new activation procedure with me. It always told me that it was already activated. The strangest thing is: On every reboot, the modified OOBETimer value got re-created!

So I headed for bigger guns: I downloaded the official key update tool from Microsoft. I ran it, I typed in the new license code, it did something – and again nothing: No re-activation was required! Even the „Windows Genuine Advantage“ during the 50+ updates came and went without any complaints!

I am really curious to hear your suggestions why this XP didn’t want to be re-activated after this treatment. Has Microsoft disabled Windows Product Activation (WPA) on Windows XP in the meantime, and I simply didn’t read the memo? Not very likely.


Speaking of 50+ updates: It’s actually not that easy to update WinXP to SP3 on a Bootcamp XP. Read and weep:

In short: Even as XP runs in Bootcamp through an emulated BIOS boot, the SP3 installation somehow detects the underlying EFI firmware and refuses to install – with the less than helpful error message that there isn’t enough free disk space … not even 4MB on a drive that has 40GB left. But nothing that a little additional craftsmanship in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup couldn’t fix …

Gee, you never stop learning!

… Uh-oh … 50+ before SP3, and 75+ more after SP3. D’oh!

1 Kommentare.

  1. Well, Win XP IS end of life even for OEMs now, see Overview on

    So given the fact that it is not sold to OEMs any longer I wouldn’t be surprised if they simply (and silently) disabled activation all together just to save resources and prevent support calls. Who knows.