I've had some problems with programs on my Dimension 3100 recently that I suspected were due to registry problems that could be fixed by a repair installation of Windows.
I did do a repair installation of Windows, but not with a Dell provided disk, as I do not have one. It was for Windows XP Home, however, just like it already had on it.
Things seemed to install fine, and the computer seems, other than my present issue, to be running well enough.
The present issue is with activation. I found how to reset the activation timer, somewhere online, and did so, to get into Windows in something other than safe mode, to get where things are presently. However once things are up and running the activation process just doesn't work. I'm not sure why it's coming up at all, as it wasn't mentioned in what I had read about the repair installation procedure.
I've tried inputting the key from the sticker on the computer's case, but it says it is an incorrect product key.
What's the fix?
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Sounds like you've done a repair install using retail media instead of OEM media... You need the correct OEM installation media.
However Windows XP has reached end of life since April 2014 and its continued use is not recommended particularly for internet use. The hardware of this system is pretty weak and not worthwhile upgrading to a modern Windows OS. If on a budget the price of a retail Windows license is similar to the cost of buying a second hand OptiPlex 780 which has superior hardware with a Windows 7 OEM license and taking the free upgrade to Windows 10.
What's the fix?
If you insist on continuing to use Windows XP Home, you will need to buy (on eBay -- I see them selling for $5 http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-Reinstallation-CD-Microsoft-Windows-XP-Home-Service-Pack-2-w-RAM-/33173...) or borrow (from a friend) a Dell Windows XP Home CD. It must be Dell. There is no way around it.
If you are adventurous, I would suggest venturing into Linux. I highly recommend Linux Mint. www.linuxmint.com
You need to do the repair install will Dell Media.
To the OP,
The eBay auction CD I linked is exactly the same CD of Dell XP Home as the one that I have personally.
This one in the eBay auction is opened/used, but that does not matter as the Windows product key is in the BIOS of your PC and will activate.
Thanks to all of you for your responses, suggestions you've made, and especially for locating a replacement disc for me. Thumbs up to you.