Re: Inspiration 530s - reinstalling windows xp pro
I would advise you to check your procedure; as pointed out by Osprey and chesman, a Dell labeled installation disk for Windows XP Professional does not require entry of the product code from the COA when used on a computer licensed for that product. Windows setup does not normally even give you the opportunity to enter the product code. If you do successfully enter the code, it will not be activated as Microsoft does not allow activation of OEM product codes on line.
You must boot from the disk in order to have the installation automatically activated. Either use the F12 one time boot menu and select the DVD/CD drive as the boot device, or enter system setup (F2 at the Dell logo after starting the computer) and make the DVD/CD drive first in the boot order. Make certain to tap the space bar when you see the message to strike a key to boot from DVD/CD or you will boot from the hard drive instead. Make sure you are not allowing the disk to autorun as this will trigger an "upgrade" type of installation and will not allow the code checking module to verify the Dell BIOS signature required for activation.
EDIT: One additional note; you should delete the existing system partition and create a new partition for your fresh installation. Otherwise you may wind up keeping some of the problems that led you to reinstall in the first place.