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How do I cancel Windows XP Setup that asks for product key?

Initial Goal: Reformat hard drive and reinstall Windows XP.
New Goal: Make Windows XP Setup go away. Install Windows 7.

The process ran smoothly until Setup asked for a product key. We entered what we thought was the product key (obtained from My Computer before reformatting), only to discover that the Product ID and Product Key are not the same thing. We couldn't find the product key, so we decided to do Windows 7 instead.

The problem is that we can't run Windows 7 Setup because Windows XP Setup keeps starting.
We told the BIOS to boot from CD. That didn't work.
We reset the NVRAM. That didn't work.
With the XP disc in the drive, we held down the Shift key to bypass everything. That worked, and allowed us to boot from CD, but then Setup failed when it found that PCI.SYS was corrupt.

All we want to do is kill the XP Setup so we can start the Win7 Setup. Any and all help will be appreciated.
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RichPella
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RichPella
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1 Solution
 
koreansuperCommented:
Product ID and Product Key are different things.Product Key is the license key that you need to enter to install OS which able you to do update. I do not think that you can pass through unless you have the license key
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
Yes, we know that Product ID and Product Key are different things. In fact, we stated that in the question.

Again, we have no interest in WinXP. We only want WinXP to go away so we can install Win7. We cannot enter a WinXP Product Key to "pass through" the install to make this happen. If we could, we never would have purchased Win7, and we never would have posted this question.
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akahanCommented:
Windows 7 generally comes on a DVD, not a CD.  Are you trying to boot from a Windows 7 DVD using a machine that only has a CD (and not DVD) drive, by any chance?

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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
@akahan: Forgive me for excluding that detail. No, that is not the case. The drive is a writeable DVD drive with LightScribe. It is the only CD or DVD drive in the computer.
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edbedbCommented:
It doesn't appear to be able to be able to read the Windows 7 DVD. The DVD should boot regardless of the state of your hard drive.
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akahanCommented:
So if I understand right, the machine is refusing to boot from the CD/DVD drive, even when you tell it to in the BIOS.  Is that right?

If XP setup is starting when there's a Windows 7 DVD in the drive, it's because the machine is either ignoring your instruction to boot from the DVD drive, or unable to read the DVD for some reason.  That is, you're telling it "boot from the DVD drive," and it tries that, and says, "That didn't work, I'll try the next device on the list," which is the hard drive, where your in the middle of the XP installation.

When you try to boot from the CD/DVD drive, you should, almost immediately during the bootup process, briefly get a message that says "press any key to boot from CD".   Do you?  If not, are you SURE you still have the BIOS set to boot from CD first?

Incidentally, do you have any kind of backup of the disc that was made while you had XP installed?  If you do, it may be possible to pull the product key off the backup.



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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
@edbedb: We're going to attempt swapping a known good drive into the subject computer to test that hypothesis.

@akahan: Yes, that is correct. The computer refuses to boot from DVD, even though the instruction exists in the BIOS. We went so far as to tell the BIOS to boot from CD/DVD, with no other options, and it still starts from HDD. (Apparently, it's adding the HDD to the list whether we like it or not.)

When attempting to boot from the CD/DVD drive, the "Press any key to boot from CD" message appears ONLY when the WinXP disc is in the drive. The message does NOT appear when the Win7 disc is in the drive. Yes, we are 1,000% sure that the BIOS is set to read from CD/DVD first.

There is no backup of the HDD. We backed up only the data files.
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
We finally managed to get the computer to boot from the WinXP CD and get past the previous PCI.SYS error. We got to the "Welcome to Setup" screen and told Setup to cancel. It accepted this input and rebooted.

And then WinXP Setup started again.
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
Please allow me to clarify. When booting from the HDD, WinXP Setup goes into the GUI portion of the process, where it eventually asks for the Product Key to continue.
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akahanCommented:
Do you by any chance have a sticker somewhere on the computer with the Product ID # for WinXP?  (This would be standard on a Dell, Gateway, or other similar PC).

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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
No such stickers exist. We built this computer ourselves.
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akahanCommented:
It seems pretty clear that your DVD drive is having trouble with the Win7 DVD.  If you successfully boot from the Win7 DVD, you should see the "press any key to boot from CD" message, and then "Windows is loading files..."   If you don't get "Windows is loading files....," then your system has moved on to the hard drive, and is trying to install/boot from that, because it doesn't recognize the Win7 DVD as a readable/bootable disc.  (You didn't happen to purchase the 64 bit version, did you?)

In your shoes, I'd probably be trying another DVD drive, and examining the Win7 disc for scratches or fingerprints (though the latter seems unlikely since it's brand new.)



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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
The DVD drive is fine.

Not finding a solution within our computer, we put the HDD with the partial WinXP installation in another computer and deleted the partition there. When we put the HDD back in the original computer, the computer booted from the DVD drive with no problem.

Windows 7 comes with two DVDs. One is 32-bit, and the other is 64-bit. Yes, we made certain that we were using the 32-bit DVD.

Even though the computer is now able to boot from the DVD drive, that is not the end of our problems. The 80GB HDD that we swapped out and back in appears to be having problems of its own. Win7 Setup had difficulty accessing the HDD partition. So we took a 1TB HDD from another computer and put it in our computer. Win7 Setup could access this partition, but kept complaining that it wasn't a system partition. (Forgive my ignorance. I thought that was the point of a clean install. Shouldn't Setup be CREATING a system partition instead of complaining that one doesn't exist?)

After much going back and forth, we finally resorted to a command prompt. At this moment, the 1TB drive is formatting, and we are going to bed. We'll see if things are working in the morning.
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senadCommented:
F3 is the key to abort the process ....
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
@senad: It would have been wonderful if it had been that easy. At one point, we did succeed in booting from the WinXP installation CD. We succeeded in pressing F3 to abort the process. And when the computer rebooted, it went right back into Setup again, and asked for the Product Key. I cannot explain why that happened; I only know that it did.
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
So this morning, the 1TB HDD is formatted in NTFS format. When we run Win7 Setup, we get exactly the same error message again: "System was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the setup log files for more information."

Again, I must ask: Why is Setup so adamant about a system partition, when that's the whole point of running Setup in the first place?
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edbedbCommented:
One reason might be (just a guess) that you bought the Windows 7 upgrade package and 7 doesn't feel you qualify to upgrade.
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
@edbedb: The only way that is true is if Microsoft put the wrong DVDs in the box. The upgrade version has the word "Upgrade" in the upper left-hand corner of the box; our box does not bear this marker. We paid the proper price for the full version. If these are upgrade DVDs, I'm going to be EXTREMELY upset with Bill Gates (even more than usual).
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edbedbCommented:
The first thing I would try is to delete the partition on the hard drive and give that a go.
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
We found a solution to the "System was unable to create a new system partition" thing. The computer has two HDDs in it. We went into the BIOS and disabled the second drive. At this moment, Win7 is installing on the primary drive. We have no idea WHY this is a solution; we only know that it is. We found some people on www.windows7forums.com with similar issues, and that was their solution. We tried it and it worked.

After Win7 installs, we will see if it allows us to enable the second drive again.
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
@edbedb: Again, I've omitted a detail for the sake of brevity. Yes, we deleted the partition on the HDD and re-partitioned. In fact, that was the very first thing we did after we got the error message the first time. As stated above, all attempts to get Win7 Setup to proceed past that point were unsuccessful. The only way we got Setup to continue was to disable the second HDD, which already had data on it.
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edbedbCommented:
I am glad to hear you got it straightened out. You would think that with the size of it MS could have given it just a little common sense.
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
And that's it. Win7 is installed, the second HDD is enabled, and everything is running.

We never did find an answer to our initial question, though. Why did WinXP Setup keep starting again, especially after we actively aborted it? Our solution to that problem was to put the drive in another computer and delete the partition. In my opinion, that is not a proper solution.

@edbedb: I agree with you there. Unfortunately, common sense has been removed from Microsoft Corporation (as a group). Next year, I'm switching to Macintosh. I will never own another Microsoft product again.
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edbedbCommented:
To answer your question, one of the first things install does is delete a mess of files. Once it does that, there is no going back.
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
"No going back"? What about the fact that we aborted the install and told it not to start again? What about the fact that we told the computer to boot from the CD/DVD drive, not the HDD? While I agree that the computer SHOULD have booted from the DVD regardless of the state of the HDD, the computer ignored the "should" and did what it wanted to do. How, or why, may remain a mystery forever.
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edbedbCommented:
I understand how you feel about MS. I can't get mad about it though, that's what keeps food on my table .
You can't blame MS for the part about booting from the wrong device. That was the fault of the motherboards BIOS.
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akahanCommented:
Your PC's behavior was completely strange, no doubt about it.  It should have booted from the Win7 DVD regardless what was on the hard drive, when told to do that by the BIOS, IMHO.  
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
@edbedb: Maybe you are correct that MS was not responsible for the computer not booting from the DVD. I still say MS is directly responsible for WinXP Setup starting again even after aborting the process. And there can be no doubt that MS was responsible for Win7 Setup refusing to deal with the 1TB HDD until we disabled the second HDD.

It's not like these are isolated incidents. MS has a long and sordid history of releasing products with just this kind of crap in them. Fortunately for me, my dining table and MS are completely unrelated. Apple, here I come!
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jazzIIIloveCommented:
Hi there;

Use gparted, create a bootable CD or I guess bootable USB with gparted in it, boot the machine that USB (see bios for that) and delete that partition and reput the DVD into your drive. Check for the bios and set for CD/DVD bootable in your BIOS. If again fails, your DVD-ROM and DVD ROM/RAM driver are the culprits.

If you download and burn the MS 7 file iso or whatsoeverfile to a DVD, redo it but this time select the slowest write option. I recommend using NERO for writing it, other programs may cause such stuff but rarelly.

Last thing, better to have a quality medium for your 7. I mean I am using SONY blank DVD stuff and they are very successful and recognized.

Whatever the reason may be, I don't think this is a Windows XP installation fault, since if you put any CD regarding bootable, it is recognized if the BIOS is set properly, with nice medium and driver.

So, maybe you can create another bootable CD and eliminate for the medium, burning software and driver, create bootable with gparted or ubuntu installation and see what happens,

gparted:
http://gparted.sourceforge.net/download.php

paragaon:
http://www.partition-manager.com/

ubuntu:
http://www.ubuntu.com/

knoppix:
http://www.knoppix.org/

Best regards.
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senadCommented:
Can you boot with your Windows 7 DVD ?
(changing the BIOS boot sequence so it boots from your DVD/CD)
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senadCommented:
Sorry,just saw you tried that...
That is not normal behaviour.
Try resettin BIOS to defaults and try again.
If not then flush the BIOS.
Take it out from electricity and take the battery out for 2 minutes.
Then everything back and then boot from CD...
Try this...
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
@jazzIIIlove: I appreciate you taking the time to respond to our query. Did you read all of the posts before yours, or just the original problem post? Almost everything you suggested was covered in those posts.

We took care of this a week ago by deleting the partition on a separate computer. We have no interest in attempting the WinXP install again, just to see if the solution that you presented will work. As we noted several times in the posts above, the computer refused to boot from DVD, even though the BIOS was set to do so. We checked this setting numerous times to verify that it was still set to boot from CD/DVD, and it was. At one point we even set it to ignore the HDD, and it still booted from HDD, anyway. Booting from USB is a bit of a pain in the butt, from the things I've seen online describing how to do that. We were not interested in going that route.

As for the "quality medium," I would consider an original DVD, created by Microsoft Corporation and purchased in the original packaging with the shrink wrap still intact, to be the highest quality medium available. That is exactly what we had. (We also stated this in the posts above.) The quality of the DVD was not the problem.

This computer boots from CD/DVD all the time. The drive is not the problem, either. There has been one--and only one--case in which we set the BIOS to boot from CD/DVD and the computer refused to do so. That case is the one mentioned above, with the partial WinXP installation. Given this information, I do not accept the hypothesis that it was not the fault of the partial WinXP installation. That is, quite obviously, the only thing that COULD have created this situation. As Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Spock are fond of saying: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains--however improbable--must be the truth."
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senadCommented:
and the truth is ...???
Your BIOS refuses to save the option to boot from the CD.
This has nothing to do with the installation of any of the
systems,quality of the DVD or similar.
I had a similar issue once.Solved it by flushing the BIOS a couple of times.
(Then I think it worked when I took the NIC out).
Same issue as yours...when rechecking the settings they were all there Ok.
So try also by taking the NIC out....Try also formating the MBR.
Once I remember reading somewhere that Microsoft allowed only 3 x hardware changes on 1 installation...very obscure thing...
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
@senad: Again, we already solved this issue. The idea of removing the NIC is cool. It's integrated into this motherboard, so there's no way to just remove it. Unless there's a way to format the MBR without booting the machine, there was no way to just format it, since every time we booted it went back into the WinXP installation.

I don't understand "refuses to save the option to boot from the CD." It did save the option. Every time we looked at it, that option was still in place. There is nothing logical about a computer displaying a current setting that doesn't exist.

TO EVERYONE: I am done responding to this thread. As stated again and again and again, we corrected the situation, even though we never figured out the actual cause of the problem. We are no longer interested in hearing about "maybe" solutions--most especially solutions that we already tried and posted here that we tried. Thank you all for your input. I consider this thread closed, yet unsolved. I will not award the 400 points to anyone, so I ask you to stop trying.
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jazzIIIloveCommented:
ok not in search for points but:
Did you try bootable Ubuntu or Knoppix, or any external USB CD-ROM stuff for this case?

I haven't heard such a case that a corrupt installation of an OS would be causing this.
senad's last comment sounds reasonable, did you try for that too?

>>I don't understand "refuses to save the option to boot from the CD." It did save the option. Every time >>we looked at it, that option was still in place. There is nothing logical about a computer displaying a >>current setting that doesn't exist.
Computers are non-deterministic machines, so don't search for a logic underneath this.

>>Given this information, I do not accept the hypothesis that it was not the fault of the partial WinXP >>installation. That is, quite obviously, the only thing that COULD have created this situation.
Ok, after all, this is your question, you may accept your own answer anyways.

Best regards.
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wgenglanCommented:
Just a guess:  Since RichPella has resolved his issues and is up and going with Windows 7:
Hurray!  

That said, and I'm only guessing, it seems that all of his trouble began with having a second hdd in his system that probably either wasn't jumpered correctly in the first place, or that possibly had been set
with an active bootable system partition at some point.  Then, when the XP setup was begun, and then
became problematic, this added to the problems.  

Note: Even if the BIOS has been set to boot from CD/DVD drives, it still tests for the hardware at
start-up as part of its normal mobo testing and initializations.  If there is a hardware conflict, then it
doesn't matter if the BIOS options is set for CD boot; an error here can cause the BIOS to drop back
and just try to boot from the first available HDD. (improper hardware discovery usually means that
the BIOS can't assume any of its later detections are correct).  Just a guess, and that's all.
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RichPellaAuthor Commented:
>>That said, and I'm only guessing, it seems that all of his trouble began with having a second hdd in
>>his system that probably either wasn't jumpered correctly in the first place, or that possibly had
>>been set with an active bootable system partition at some point.

Neither of those guesses is correct. That computer had been running with two HDDs for a long time, and the jumper settings were checked and rechecked multiple times. They were correct. Also, the second HDD never had a bootable partition.

The part about BIOS ignoring its own settings is really interesting. Had we known that on the night we were messing this, that info might have saved us some time and heartache. No way to know now.
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wgenglanCommented:
Oops, my bad.  Cheers!
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ee_autoCommented:
Question PAQ'd, 400 points refunded, and stored in the solution database.
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