Windows XP activation doesn’t pop up after repair or ghost

Also, how to log on without activating Windows :)

Ghosted a machine to a new harddrive today, as the old one was failing.

Windows activation pops up on the first boot, as is to be expected, but when I clicked “Activate”, nothing happened. The activation wizard simply wouldn’t continue. And of course I couldn’t get in and activate the system normally, because Windows didn’t let me log on without activating. Gah!

The solution, it turns out, is the following:

  • Start the machine, while repeatedly hitting F8 from just after the initial BIOS image disappears
  • Choose “Safe-mode with command prompt”
  • When the command prompt appears, type “explorer” and press <enter>

You’re in!

Now you need to (re-)install a hotfix, and Internet Explorer 8. Download them on another machine, and put them on a CD, a USB-stick, or whatever you have available. Install the hotfix first.

Hotfix KB946501: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/946501
Internet Explorer 8: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/default.aspx

The files you need are called (for English Windows XP):
WindowsXP-KB946501-v2-x86-ENU (hotfix)
IE8-WindowsXP-x86-ENU (Internet Explorer 8)

Anyway, after they’re installed, reboot and activate as usual.

Worked for me :)

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