Best Way to Connect a PC Running Media Center 2002 to a Domain

MrChip2 used Ask the Experts™

Here is my situation.  I have two networks in my home - one for work and one for personal use (wife and kids).  The work LAN uses a Windows 2003 SBS server.  The SBS server acts as my domain controller.  The home network is set up as a Workgroup.  I need to take one of my "home PCs" that is currently on the home network workgroup and move it to the work network that uses a domain.  The home PC is running XP Media Center 2002 SP3.

When I tried doing this on my own I was surprised to see that the option under My Computer==> Properties==> Computer Name to assign my computer to a domain is disabled/greyed out.  I saw some previous posts on this site that explained that Microsoft turned off the domain functionality in Media Center.  I have also read about some registry hacks/work arounds that would solve this problem.  I am looking for advice on the easiest/quickest way to get this PC attached to my domain.  So far I know of a few possibilities:

1. Tweaking the registry (this makes me nervous)

2. Buying a XP Pro upgrade (roughly $120) and upgrading my Media Center to XP Pro.  (Note I don't care if I lose Media Center capabilities as I never use them).  Can I upgrade MC 2002 to XP Pro?

3. Buying a retail version of XP Pro (roughly $230) and wiping my PC's hard drive and doing a clean install.  If I go this route, what is the easiest way to not lose all my files and settings?

4. I read somewhere if I upgrade to Media Center 2005 I will have the option of assigning the computer to a domain during the installation.

5. Upgrading to Vista - I prefer not to do this as all of my computers are running XP.

Which approach would you recommend and what5.  specific steps should I take?

Thanks so much!!!

Any other idea?

Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
Top Expert 2008

The best way to do this would be to purchase Windows XP Professional and install it on your system.
You can get an Systems Builder copy of Windows XP Professional here for $140:
I hope this helps. Good luck.


Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the very quick reply.  I do not mind spending the$140 if it will make this an easy solution.  The PC I am trying to use is fairly expensive (mirrored RAID drives, 3+ years left of 7x24 service from Dell, etc.  I have a few follow-up questions.

1. What is the difference between a retail version (which I think costs $230) and the System Builder copy?  

2. Is it legal for me to use a System Builder version in my situation?  Or when I go to register it for updates will I run into problems?

3. What type of install do you suggest I do?  Is this an upgrade or am I wiping the drives and installing XP from scratch.  Or are you recommending a dual boot scenario.  If it is the "wiping drive install from scratch" choice, will I need to do anything with my mirrored drives or is the RAID configured separate from the OS?

4. Finally, if you don't mind, please tell me the exact steps you are recommending.  I am not asking for a blow by blow of the installation.  What I mean is something like this:

1. Before anything, here is how you

1. Insert XP Pro CD and choose the option XXXX.

2. When it asks what I want to do with the existing OS install, do XXX.

Thanks so much.  I wonder if I can buy this locally so I can work on it over the weekend....
Top Expert 2008
1. The retail version allows you to legally move the license from one computer to the next. You can do it with the OEM/System Builder copy too, but it is against the agreement.
2. You will have no issues running updates or registering the OS. The biggest difference between the two editions is the CD/License combo.
3. I suggest that you backup all your important data and do a clean format and install. This will be the best for your system because you are starting off fresh instead of with any issues you may already have.
1. Setup your bios to boot off the cd or use the boot menu.
2. It will usually ask you to press a key to boot off the CD
3. Follow the instructions. Delete the old boot drive (after you ensure your data is all backed up)
4. Install windows on the newly empty drive
5. When the install finishes install your drivers (you may want to download your network driver before you format to make it easy)
6. Join to the domain
7. Install your software
8. Enjoy
I hope this is what your looking for. Good luck.


Thank you Andrew.  I think this is the exact solution I need.  I have been told about registry hacks, but that seems to be a ton of work that could leave me with a crippled or unstable system.  This PC will be my primary work PC, so it must be reliable.  If my local Costco has a retail version for not much more than $140, I will buy it.  Otherwise, I will buy your suggestion through New Egg.  One final question, will I need to do anything about my mirrored SCSI drives?  Or will their configuration remain unaffected through this process?  Take care.!
Top Expert 2008

If your SCSI mirror is hardware you should have no issues. However you may need to have the drivers for the SCSI hardware on a floppy disk to be able to install windows if the drives do not appear when you do a normal install. If they do not appear you will have to use the F6 option at the beginning of the install procedure - right after you boot from the CD.
Good luck.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial