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mgross333
 asked on

Find XP Version when PC does not boot completely

This is for my customer; I fix PCs for a living.

PC with Windows XP does not boot competely. There is no MS sticker with Product Key and XP version on the side (Note: This is a custom buiit PC). Using ONLY the limited set of DOS commands available in the Recovery Console (i.e boot from ANY VERSION Windows XP SP2 install CD and go to the Recovery console) how can I determine whether it is running Windows XP Home or Professional or Media Center. Note: The purchase date is also unknown.
Bill of sale is gone. The vendor who built the PC is unknown as my customer got the PC as a gift so I cannot call the builder and find out.

WHY ???: Because to try to fix with a Windows Repair Install I MUST know which version it is running as I must use a CD with that version and the same or higher SP level.

NOTE: I do NOT need instructions on how to find the Service Pack level; I know how to do that from the Recovery console.

Regards-Mike
Windows XP

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johnb6767

8/22/2022 - Mon
johnb6767

Is the i386 directory on the machine? If so, then you can create a bootable XP CD to take your COA on the sticker....

Create a bootable XP CD from your I386
http://www.howtohaven.com/system/createwindowssetupdisk.shtml

I have tested on multiple occassions successfully....

Never tried this link though....
http://www.easydesksoftware.com/recovery.htm#XP
SOLUTION
cswiatek

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cswiatek

Further to my comment, you can find the boot.ini in the root of C:. Also note you'll have to have "Show protected system files" enabled within your view options.
johnb6767

ProduKey - Recover lost product key (CD-Key) of Windows/MS-Office ...
http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/product_cd_key_viewer.html

This will also let you retrieve the serials once it is slaved.....Just need to select the source.....
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mgross333

ASKER
Thanks for your quick response.

Unless you have a solution NOT involving boot.ini, do NOT post in this thread.

If no alternate solution is posted, Points will be awarded to cswiatek and flubbster AFTER I go on site and try flubbster directions and see if those directions work.

Regards-Mike
johnb6767

I would recommend looking further into my first post as well.... If the I386 is loaded on the machine, you can gauruntee a successful reinstall each time, takes the guesswork out of the whole OEM/Retail/VLK debauchle....

With that and Produkey, you really dont need anything else....
cswiatek

Only reason I suggested the boot.ini is because the version can be easily read if you slave that hard drive to yours and look in the root. I can't say I've tried the other methods posted here but those might work as well.
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optoma

>Have you checked the case thoroughly? Have seen custom boxes with stickers in weird places,eg inside box somewhere to prevent it from being tore off and used elsewhere.

Any trace of a sticker outline?

>Have you tried use ERD commander or Ubcd to restore the machine back 3-4 weeks and see if it will boot?
If it does use SIW to get key:
http://www.gtopala.com
mgross333

ASKER
The PC had not a single label or ID of any klind on the outside of the case.

optoma,

Regarding
> Have you checked the case thoroughly? Have seen custom boxes with stickers in weird places,eg inside box somewhere to prevent it from being tore off and used elsewhere.

I did not check inside box as your post (and all posts after my first reply above) arrived after I left to go onsite. However, customer had a motherboard box with material received with PC and it had an XP Home CD (retail copy) in the box. I doubled checked this using the directions in flubbster's post and OS was XP Home.

Box also contained a CD to reinstall all motheboard drivers (i.e ALL DRIVERS missing after Windows XP install except for the AGP graphics card and HP printer) and a motherboard manual (non of which was I informed about in advance; his wife found it in a closet after I arrived).

Regards-Mike
mgross333

ASKER
I only assigned 100 points to cswiatek because his post began with the words ".... I don't think what you are looking for is possible through the Recovery Console" WHICH IS INCORRECT. Howver, cswiatek WAS the first person to mention the boot.ini file.

flubbster's solution is a LOT EASIER to do than some of the other posts here.

Mike
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mgross333

ASKER
johnb6767,

Regarding your first post with links, I already have a complete set of Retail Windows XP install CDs SP2 and SP3 for all versions of Windows. (SP3 are slipstream created AND I only use them for Repair installs).
Drivers can easily be obtained from the PC manufacturer's website (MUST BE DONE IN ADVANCE for at least the NIC driver). If a custom PC, the mobo driver CD is ALWAYS delivered with the PC (as was the case here). If the customer lost the driver CD, I get the mobo model off the mobo and go online (using other working PC in house/office OR drive to nearest Fedex Kinkos and rent a PC for a few minutes) and get the drivers from the mobo manufacturer's web site.

I do NOT own or carry my own laptop with me as ONLY ONCE in 5 years of being in business has this been a problem AND trips to Fedex Kinkos to rent their PCs are necessary about ONCE a year.  Being in business means NOT SPENDING MONEY on tools or SW unless absolutely necessary. All the XP CDs were bought from shady characters late at night in parking lots (as well as an Office 2007 retail CD). The hookup was thru Craigs list ads, and I usually pay 1/3 to 1/2 the price at Best Buy or Microcenter for sealed brand new Microsoft Retail kits.

Mike
johnb6767

I was never suggesting anything about Drivers?

What I was referring to, was a method to have a 100% success rate on accepting your Key on a reinstall/install, if the cabs were present.

The second link was strictly to assist in finding a license key, if no sticker was available to verify the version/license type.

Was just offering it as a workaround. I know it wasnt exactly what you were asking, but as this is not a common method, it can save time/money....

Thats all it was for.....
mgross333

ASKER
johnb6767,

DId you notice that I said that " I fix PCs for a living." ??? Why on earth would I want to create bootable CD
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mgross333

ASKER
John,

IGNORE MY EMAIL IMMEDIATELY ABOVE.

Why would I want to create bootable CDs when my current set works fine with the same key they came with ON ANY PC IN THE WORLD. As far as activation goes, I know how to handle that and how I do it is proprietary information of my business.

I.E I already have a 100% success rate.

Mike
johnb6767

"I.E I already have a 100% success rate."

Well,  your doing better than probably 90% of the rest of the techs in  the world, as thats the only way I know to gauruntee that a key will be accepted, but using the same source files..... You cannot always use an OEM cd to rebuild using EVERY oem license, as there are still various versions of OEM PIDs out there. Thats what makes a reinstall wihtout a license/cd from the customer so hard...

"when my current set works fine with the same key they came with ON ANY PC IN THE WORLD"

Im trying to argue, but I would like to know the methods you use for this..... I am assuming that you keep a set of OEM's from the various channels, as well, as retail cd's for each version as well? And sometimes even changing the product key once installed so that it activates, or backing up the wpa.dbl?
mgross333

ASKER
johnb6767,

Regarding
> I would like to know the methods you use for this

Like I said, that is proprietary information of my business other than what is below.

Regarding CDs, I have NO OEM XP CDs, only MS Retail SP2 CDs and Slipstream-created SP3 CDs.
ANY MS RETAIL CD will work (i.e install AND actually boot and work too) for a Repair or Parallel or Reformat Install if you enter the Product Key that came with THAT retail CD. The problem is after 2nd XP CD use, it will RARELY activate. AGAIN, how I activate is THE proprietary info of my business.

By analogy, any Norton CD will install AND actually work if you use the Product Key that came with THAT CD. But after first or 3rd use (depending on whether you get the 1 user or 3 user version) it will NOT activate which means it will stop working or at least updating after 2 weeks.

By analogy, any MS Office CD will install and work if you use the Product Key that came with THAT CD. But after some number of uses it will NOT work if you do not activate it.

IN ALL THE ABOVE CASES THE PRODUCT WORKS FOR SOME PERIOD (2 WEEKS, OR 30 USES OR WHATEVER) AND IF NOT ACTIVATED IT THEN DOES NOT WORK.
SO THE ACTIVATION IS EVERYTHING, THE INSTALL IS A NO-BRAINER as long as (for the XP Install Case) you use MS Retail CDs (which are of course more expensive than "retail" OEM CDs which are in turn more expensive than a REAL OEM CD like the kind that used to come with Dell PCs some years back).

Mike

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rwheeler23
mgross333

ASKER
John6767,

Slight correction to the above. I said

"ANY MS RETAIL CD will work (i.e install AND actually boot and work too)....."

that is true EXCEPT for XP **Home** CDs in some (not all) circumstances. In those cases, the OS installs and boots but will NOT log in until activated. But that does NOT change my overall conclusion (last paragraph in post immediately above) one bit.

Mike
johnb6767

"ANY MS RETAIL CD will work (i.e install AND actually boot and work too) for a Repair or Parallel or Reformat Install if you enter the Product Key that came with THAT retail CD"

But your wasting a license? I dont see the purpose of changing a license during a repair install, just to do it, and have to maybe either hack in the old OEM key, or change the license type completely....

Using Norton isnt a real good comparison to Windows, as thier licensing models are nowhere near as complicated......

What youre doing is very odd at best, borderline violating MS licensing depending on how you are activating the licenses.....

I thought you might have had a legitimate solution, but I digress, as I was interested in learning your methods... No thanks though.....