A Philosopher's Blog

Useful info about Windows XP

Posted in Technology by Michael LaBossiere on August 12, 2008

Because my friend Dave killed his PC, I set up an old Dell as a replacement. The Dell belonged to another friend and it suffered a hard drive failure. I had replaced the hard drive and installed Ubuntu on it as a test platform. Since Dave is not the sort of person who would want to face Ubuntu, I decided to install Windows XP on the Dell. Fortunately, the Dell still had its Windows XP  Home sticker with the product key.  Unfortunately, I did not have any of the disks for the Dell nor (obviously) the restore partition on the hard drive.

Initially I tried using a Windows XP upgrade disk and the Dell’s Windows XP. I didn’t think it would work, but since I didn’t have a full copy of XP on hand, I gave it a shot. So the first piece of useful information is this:

Windows XP Home upgrade disks will not work with the product key from a full version doing the normal install.

Luckily, I had just ordered an OEM Windows XP SP 3 disk from New Egg. I wanted to buy one because Microsoft has decided that XP will no longer be sold to customers (there are some exceptions, such as the EeePC). I tried the OEM disk with the Dell product key and it worked perfectly.  So, the second piece of useful information is this:

OEM Windows XP Home (service pack 3) disks will work with older Windows XP Home product keys-including those of consumer PCs.

Since my PC, like most PCs, didn’t come with an XP disk (or any disks at all-I had to make my own restore DVD) it is good to know that I can use the OEM disk and the PC’s product key.

I also found out that the OEM Windows XP Home disk is not copy protected. I prefer to work with copies of CDs in case something goes wrong.  So, the final piece of useful information is this:

You can copy an OEM WIndows XP disk and it will work just fine.

To recap:

  • Windows XP Home upgrade disks will not work with the product key from a full version doing the normal install.
  • OEM Windows XP Home (service pack 3) disks will work with older Windows XP Home product keys-including those of consumer PCs.
  • You can copy an OEM WIndows XP disk and it will work just fine.

To anticipate some questions:

  • No, I will not make you a copy of my Windows XP disk.
  • No, I will not give you a product key.
  • Last I checked, XP disks are still available at various resellers. But, Microsoft says that this is it for XP (with some exception).
  • If you lost your product key and Windows is still installed, you can recover it with the wonderfully named Magical Jelly Bean Keyfnder. It works great. It will also recover other product keys (such as Office).
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