XP Product activation of off lease laptops

Posted on 2006-04-29
Last Modified: 2008-01-09
I've been buying used off lease laptops to refurb and resale. In quantities of 150-300 at a time. For reasons of data security most asset collection companies remove and destroy all HDD's from the laptops. However the laptops still have there XP COA (product key) stuck too them. Too my knowledge, Microsoft's licensing should allows for re installation of these laptops and hence reactivation.

I install the laptops from syspreped ghost images of full version XP SP1 which has been slipstreamed to SP2. The installation accepts the key however, when I go to activate via the net I get a message asking me to recheck my product key. I've rang Microsoft's activation line and they've always activate the laptops for me over the phone. However it takes about 5 minutes per machine. Which works out to be about 25 hours on the phone too activate my 300 notebooks.

I've asked the phone call center opp on numerous occasions why the machine are not activating over the net. Only to be told that machines that don't activate over the net have ether. A) had there hardware changed  or B) had there amount of reinstalls expired. I'm not buying it!

My take is that if the installed from an original restore disk from Dell, IBM, blah blah blah. I may have some luck. But chasing down a restore disk for every model of laptop could take as long as phone activation.

If anyone could share some insight, I would be most great full.


Question by:jeb330
    LVL 19

    Expert Comment

    You need either the Dell installation disc or a non-branded OEM version to match the COA you have on the machines
    LVL 19

    Expert Comment

    If they are different brands, you can use the non-branded OEM version . . you may have to buy one
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    The Microsoft call ops you spoke to were correct.

    The Windows Product Activation system checks ten categories of hardware:

       1. Display Adapter
       2. SCSI Adapter
       3. IDE Adapter (effectively the motherboard)
       4. Network Adapter (NIC) and its MAC Address
       5. RAM Amount Range (i.e., 0-64mb, 64-128mb, etc.)
       6. Processor Type
       7. Processor Serial Number
       8. Hard Drive Device
       9. Hard Drive Volume Serial Number (VSN)
      10. CD-ROM / CD-RW / DVD-ROM

    It then calculates and records a number based on the first device of each type that was found during setup, and stores this number on your hard drive. Initially, this is sent to Microsoft in an automatic dial-up, together with the Product ID number derived from the 25-character unique Product Key used in setting up Windows.

    If that number changes too much, Microsoft thinks you are installing on a different machine and activation fails.

    From here:

    Author Comment

    No luck with OEM XP. Still get a 'Incorrect product key' message. Message Number 45128. I'll have too try with a vendor specific version of XP, i.e Dell, tomorrow.

    Had too activate 25 notebooks via phone today MS phone op, suggested that I could email my Product I.D's though too an email activation service.  Then MS can reply with activation numbers. Hmmm... a bit better then phone activation but still not as quick as a direct activation via network.
    LVL 19

    Expert Comment

    Shucks . .
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    Yeah, there is something MS and the large OEM's (like Dell) do that pretty much requires the use of a Dell CD with Dell hardware for automatic activation (they are assigned some particular subset of COA numbers that expect a certain bit on the CD used - or such).

    I think you're going to be ok once you have a Dell CD for Dell systems, but that isn't going to help as your inventory moves from supplier to supplier.

    Accepted Solution

    PAQed with points refunded (500)

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