I had to substitute the hard disk of my Dell computer, but reinstalling Windows XP from the CD-rom my original product key isn't accepted. What should I do to reinstall Windows XP?
If you're being asked for the product key, you're not using a Dell Windows CD -- and if you're not, that's why the product key doesn't work. You cannot use the OEM key with anything but the Dell Windows CD (which won't need it anyway).
The Dell Windows CD is original, of course, and I can provide all the necessary documentation, otherwise I wouldn't be asking support here. So far I never had to use the Windows XP CD that I received when I purchased a Dell Dimension 4500 desktop PC years ago. Now that I had to substitute the hard disk, when I try to install XP on it, it asks me for the product key. I use the Product Key Number in the Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity sticked on my PC, but the installation first asks for it, and then doesn't accept it and stops. What am I supposed to do now?
Something is wrong here - if you boot the system from the Dell Windows CD, it will not ask you for a product key UNLESS this is an upgrade version of Windows, or unless you've changed the mainboard for a third-party (non-Dell) unit. Is either the case?
Actually I have 2 Dell desktop computers, a brand new XPS 430 with Vista and an old Dimension 4500 with XP. The old one worked until a few weeks ago, then I had to purchase the new one. Some of my video-editing software doesn't work with Vista, so I am trying to install XP on a the new hard-disk, which is a separate partition of the new Dell XPS 430. In this case I am using a copy of the original XP CD that I made with nLite to insert the raid drivers and updated to SP3 to include the new drivers, as it was suggested by Dell support because the new computer has no floppy. The installation proceeds well until it asks for the product key and then says it is not valid. To use this video-editing software, that costs more than the computer, I need to have XP in a separate partion of the new one. How can I do it, considering that I have legal CDs both of XP and Vista?
Hi malinkuore, What it is, the product key is also wrote into Dell's reinstall disc. I would use nlite to make sure that the product key in the DVD you made up has not been damaged and is still there, if so then this would cause this error. Normally what you did there would work, if damaged, redo disc, but this time leave out SP3, and just add the SATA driver to the new nlite disc.
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I repeated the whole process with nLite several times. Copying the original XP CD slipstreaming the SATA driver I get a blue screen before the installation starts. Also copying the original XP CD adding SP2 and the SATA drivers I get a blue screen before the installation starts. Copying the original XP CD adding SP3 and the SATA driver works well until the installation stops at the moment it asks for the production key. I checked with nLite and the number is exactly the same (it's the very same number that was also in my old computer), but it says that it's invalid even before the number appears, and the installation refuses to proceed with any other number or without it. I've been trying to solve this problem for weeks already, since I received my new XPS 430. What can I do to fix it? Working with my video-editing programs is the main reason I bought this computer, and there's no way to make them function under Vista.
On your original xpCD there is a file within I386 directory called winnt.sif (used for unattended setups). Open this file with notepad and look for the product key section. If it is readable and not encrypted, note this down and use it for your installation. You may find this is different to the CoA that dell stuck to you machine and you may find that this works for you. If you view winnt.sif from your nlite versions, the product key will be what ever you entered into nlite and not necessarily that from the original xp cd.
Hope this helps
Thanks for the useful information. I checked winnt.sif, and the product key is the same that I've been using. With nLite. I also tried to insert another legal product key, but during the installation they are both considered non valid. I think that the problem is caused by the validating routine that is supposed to recognize the right number, but I don't know if there's a way to fix that.
Not too sure whether this suggestion is going to work, but it is going to mean making another disc.
There are several articles around detailing the preparation of a slipstreamed version of XP without using nlite. One of which is at the eldergeek
What i will suggest is copy the xp disc in its entirety to a folder on your hard drive. I don't know whether there are any hidden files and folders, but it might be worth setting explorer to display hidden folders and files, system files etc. include the drivers for your SATA drive in a folder. Use Isobuster to extract the boot image (as per elder geek instructions), and re-burn the disc, again using these instructions. What you should hopefully end up with is an exact copy of the dell xp disk with the dell validating routine, plus your sata drivers to allow you to install.
As an aside, i have just found some other information that might be useful. There are articles that state that slipstreaming XP on a vista machine does not work properly and will give you problems with the cd key not being recognised.
1) to prepare a not slipstreamed version of XP with instructions above
2) Use Nlite on an XP machine or server 2003 machine and repeat what you have already tried.
I hope this makes sense