Does anyone know how to do determine which edition of Windows XP a particular product key belongs to?
As I've said before, I wipe computers for a local pawn shop. In this case, there are two old laptops, one a Compaq, the other a Toshiba. Each had Windows XP. I thought they were both Pro SP3, but in retrospect, that might have been an error. Both computers were old. The Compaq very probably did not come with XP. The Toshiba certainly did not come with XP. Neither computer had COAs attached to them. I used a tool that I had downloaded some years ago to get the products keys, which I wrote down, verifying that I had written them down correctly. The Toshiba showed a different key for Internet Explorer, which I assume was the product key of whichever Windows was installed before the XP upgrade.
The computers are:
Toshiba satellite 4080xcdt: pentium 2, 366 MHz, 6GB HDD. It had 96MB ram, which I upgraded to the maximum: 192MB. The pawn shop hasn't put a price sticker on it yet.
Compaq Presario 1800-XL1: pentium 3, 647.2 MHz, 11.2GB HDD, 320MB RAM (which is the maximum). The pawn shop has a $89.99 sticker on it.
I had asked the pawn shop if they thought the customers would need to go on the Internet. As both of these laptops are quite old, I considered installing 98SE on them. (pre-XP versions of Windows do not require activation.) However, they do think that the customers will go on the Internet. I do not think 98SE is safe on the Internet.
I was under the impression that I could use my Dell OEM CD, and that it would prompt me for a product key, and then would accept the keys that I had written down. That was not the case. Windows installed without asking for a product key. After it installed, it wanted to be activated. I attempted to use the activation wizard to change the product key from the built in Dell OEM key to the key I had written down.
It turns out (I should have known this, but didn't) that Windows XP product keys are specific to specific license types, (OEM, Retail, Volume License). So, my OEM CD would not work with a non-OEM key.
So, I downloaded an XP Pro SP3 Retail CD from the internet using bit torrent. Supposedly it was leaked from either MSDN or Technet. I tried it, and it didn't work with the keys I had, leading me to think that the keys I had were Upgrade keys, and that Upgrade keys must be distinct from Retail keys.
Since I was unable to find an Upgrade CD on the internet to download, I thought about pirating Windows. (Microsoft wouldn't be out anything, because both computers already had XP installed, presumably legitimate, prior to my formatting of the hdd.) I had the pawn shop's permission. So I investigated ways of pirating Windows. I wanted it to be transparent, so that the customers (whoever buys the laptop from the pawn shop) would not be likely to find out that it was not genuine.
I read that there is a way of emulating a Dell BIOS so that my Dell CD would work without activation. However, I was unable to find software that would do this. (The software I found would emulate a Dell BIOS for Vista, which uses a different method than XP.)
I read that Volume License CDs do not require activation. So I downloaded an XP Pro SP3 Volume License CD, supposedly leaked from MSDN or Technet. I used a VL product key that I found on the Internet. It did not require activation, and MS software that requires validation was able to be installed. It wasn't until I connected it to the Internet that MSE informed me that Windows wasn't genuine. This is because Microsoft blacklists leaked VL keys. I guess WGA, or something, contacted Microsoft and got the list of blacklisted keys as soon as I was on the internet. I read that there are ways of attacking WGA, including adding an entry to the hosts file. However, I do not want to go that route, as there is too much risk of the customers detecting it.
As I could not find an XP Pro Upgrade CD to download, I ended up buying one on eBay for $89. (I told the pawn shop that I wouldn't charge them for it, as I would keep the disk and the additional product key myself.) It was an XP Pro SP1 Upgrade CD. When I got it, I noticed that the sticker on top of the box said it was English International, from Ireland. The seller was in the USA. However, it did not accept the original product keys either, although the one that came with the CD worked. I do not want to use the key that I bought; I want to keep it for myself, or sell it.
So, why didn't the keys work? If they're not OEM, Retail, VL, or Upgrade, what are they? Did I screw up? Was one of the laptops Home edition? I think they were both Pro. Could these keys have been blacklisted somehow? Again, I think not. Perhaps they were upgraded with SP2 discs, and maybe MS expanded the product key range with SP2. Could the fact that the CD is from Ireland be the reason it didn't work?
MS has a WGA diagnostic tool that will indicate which license type is being used on a computer, but I didn't know that then, or even that I needed it.
Is there a way that I can determine from just the product keys what edition and license type they correspond to? I have thought about emailing Microsoft, but I doubt that they would help me at all, especially since XP is no longer supported. I could call those activation guys in India, and try to get new product keys/activation codes, but I would rather use the ones the laptops already had.
I am considering just buying the laptops myself, and installing FreeDOS or Win 98SE on them. However, the Compaq seemed to be acting up pretty badly the last time I worked with it. (The battery charging LEDs on the charger and on the laptop were blinking rapidly, and the charger plug that goes into the laptop got extremely hot. Also the computer was beeping and acting goofy.) For what I spent on the CD from eBay, I could have bought the Compaq.
(I imagine someone will say: "Install Linux", but I doubt the customers will want that. I could install 2000, which doesn't require activation, and should still be reasonably safe on the Internet, but it is no longer updated, and I would rather use the existing product keys.)
Between my typical procrastination, and the difficulties listed above, I have had these computers for about 3 months. They are causing me stress.
|Response Title||Author and Date|
|See if (URL) will help?||on Jun 29|
|yep. thanks anyway.||on Jun 29|
|Try using SP2 to get SP3 or PRO||on Jul 1|
|The solution is simple||Anonymus of Hungary on Jul 1|
|The student edition looks good||on Jul 1|
|*thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I will probably respond in a few days.||on Jul 2|
|* Well? How did it go?||on Jul 5|
|It's going...||on Jul 6|
|*openbsd is my favorite||Rick on Jul 10|