My *nix world

Bypass Windows XP product activation

I must state from the beginning that this article is not about cracking Windows activation engine because we don't want to break our Windows EULA, do we?. This article tries to show you ways to bypass Windows XP product activation for those emergency situations. I will explain in details below.

Let's suppose that you have a licensed copy of an Windows XP but lately you have installed-activated/uninstalled it for several times. At some point the Microsoft Activation Server just get bored and says "OK, if you want me to activate your license then please pick up the phone and call me!".

What if you get bored (or you are just lazy) to call Microsoft and to justify yourself and to ask them "Please, can you activate the copy that I bought legally? Yes, I have an invoice, in fact I have 10 invoices because it happens that I bought more copies than I'm using right now. No, I'm not a software theft, I cross my heart and hope to die!"

Well, in that situation (let me make myself clear: when you both have the legal right to use that piece of software and you don't break the EULA) you could just try to exploit one of the Windows XP weaknesses. In fact you could try to exploit more than one, I'm sure about that (someone might think that I did it in the past; maybe they're right).

You could find yourself in one of the following situations:

  1. the 30 days has expired so you cannot access the Desktop anymore
  2. you are within those 30 days time limit but you want to get rid of this issue ASAP

Your 30 days has expired

So you've got a message like the one below:

You could also get a message like the one below, I meet that situation several times in the past, unfortunately I haven't tested to see if the trick works also for this particular situation, I guess/hope it does:

bypass windows xp product activation

Windows Product Activation - on hardware change

Anyway, so you either have exceeded those 30 days after the period when you have been supposed to activate your copy of Windows or, lately, you have changed the hardware such that the Windows has started to annoy you with the Windows Product Activation dialogue.

No matter in which situation you are just press the Yes button, like you are willing to activate your copy of Windows. A new window like the one below will be shown:

bypass windows xp product activation

Let's activate Windows - click WinKey+u

By pressing simultaneous "Windows key" and "u" (WinKey+u) you will open a window called "Microsoft narrator" where you can click on some hyperlink called "Microsoft web site" which in turn will open your default web browser (hopefully IE otherwise it works but with one more step; we get to this soon).

Note: if by pressing WinKey+u it opens another window named "Narrator" then, in order to get the "Microsoft narrator" window, you have to right-click that window's title-bar and to choose "About narrator" pop-up menu.

So the "Microsoft narrator" window should look like this:

bypass windows xp product activation

Microsoft Narrator - click the "Microsoft Web site" link

At this point the idea is to get the IE browser opened because the browser has "an issue" that we are going to exploit it. In case that your default browser is Firefox/Chrome/Opera/etc we should do some extra steps in order to open your IE browser because finally the IE is the one we are going to hack. If your browser is just IE then skip the steps below and go to the "IE browser opened".

Non-IE browser opened

  • enter "C:" in your browser URL address bar; your browser should show the content of C: directory
  • navigate to the C:WindowsSystem32 directory then click "taskmgr.exe" to download it; after it have downloaded just run that application (taskmgr.exe)
  • on Task Manager choose File->Run then enter "iexplore.exe" and hit OK; that will open your IE browser; finally you can use it (see below)

IE browser opened

In the URL address bar enter "C:" then hit OK. If you are not using IE8 then that command should exploit a weakness of IE7 (or earlier) which in turn will "crash the Windows" in that way that it will load the Desktop, the task bar, everything.

Note: for some reasons Windows keeps locking itself every 30-60 seconds so you won't be able to see the Desktop nor the task bar. If that is happening just repeat the step mentioned at the paragraph above (enter "C:" in IE browser URL bar). Hacking is not always an easy job, isn't it?

So, you have gained a time frame for ~30-60 seconds of fully functional Windows system, period when, hopefully, you will be able to launch whatever program you want even if ~30-60 seconds later the Windows will lock it again (your application is already up an running so you are happy; Windows has closed its Desktop, he think it's clever, it's happy too; everybody is happy now, right?).

Notes:

  1. I've seen that if you keep that "Windows Product Activation" window opened, then the Windows Desktop doesn't lock automatically after those ~30-60s. So for example I have had the IE opened and it has remained opened for an undefined period of time, but when I closed (chose OK button) the "Window Product Activation" window then the Windows automatically logged me off so I had to begin the whole process from the beginning. I think it's good to know this "tips" upfront.
  2. If you start your Windows in "Safe mode" then the Windows Product Activation does not appear any more (regarding the safe-mode).
  3. Some interesting info here (before check this website alert).

This trick just helps you to use your Windows copy in these emergency situations; I would not recommend anyone working like this on the daily basis because it could just prove to be a nightmare.

You are within those 30 days time limit

If you are interested on Windows Vista/7 license activation you could read also an article I wrote about this.

[!] WARNING [!]

I would not recommend to anyone to try this procedure in order to gain the access to use an unlicensed copy of Windows. In fact, when dealing with licensed software (like Windows), I would strongly recommend you to contact your software provider to ask it if you are allowed to do something like that or not. I wrote this article only for myself for research/educational purposes so that in case of emergency to be able to rescue my licensed system. When I have refereed the pronoun "you" or "we" I meant "I".

Now, if you think that this article was interesting don't forget to rate it. It shows me that you care and thus I will continue write about these things.

 
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Bypass Windows XP product activation

Eugen Mihailescu

Founder/programmer/one-man-show at Cubique Software
Always looking to learn more about *nix world, about the fundamental concepts of math, physics, electronics. I am also passionate about programming, database and systems administration. 16+ yrs experience in IT projects.
Bypass Windows XP product activation

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23 thoughts on “Bypass Windows XP product activation

  1. Gunsmoke

    Thanks for Your Help Bro. your fully explained activation bypass method beats those half done gimmicks that oftentimes fails to work, this is my third yet successful attempt because i've must've done something right!!

  2. TheWayItis

    Worked at first. I used it for a couple weeks. Something must have updated on XP on auto-updates. I have set the registry but now I still get the Activation window and when I go into it, it says I'm already activated. When I look at the registry key, it is as you suggested and permissions as you suggested. There must be something else now.

    1. Eugen Mihailescu

      I'm pretty sure that the Windows activation mechanism is not trivial at all and that it has more than a single protection gate. The only methods I've tested were those mentioned in post, though.

  3. LatinMcG

    i had google chrome as default . it worked to "dload" c:program filesinternet exploreriexplore.exe then open it and it launched
    then i typed c: and it let me run the darn driver install for LAN so i could activate online.
    IT WORKED..i set everything back in regsitry before doing online activation.
    i had dloaded driver for it and saved to c: from hirensbootcd.org
    Thanks.. sorta

  4. J

    I bought a second hand Windows XP to dual boot on my mac computer. I would love to buy a brand new copy but of course it is far too old.
    It installed and worked fine. The product key worked during installation. However it won't let me activate it and now it says I need to activate it in 2 days to keep using it. This is despite having followed your methods above. All I can think is I accidentally left the computer connected to the internet and it did an auto update or something. It is really frustrating that I payed for a copy of windows xp and now it has stopped working and I lost all my installed programs. I can't get windows 7 or 8 as the programs I want to run won't work and I don't even know if windows 7 or 8 would work well on my mac.

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    1. Eugen Mihailescu Post author

      If you are within those 30 days then the "You are within those 30 days time limit" should tinker the thing. As long as you are withing that period, if you block your registry (that key) then Windows cannot write to it anymore. So even if those 30 days have passed, maybe it will bother you with that nasty reminder but...it should not be able to do too much about it.

  5. Ana

    Hi Eugen. Thank you for the information. I tried your method before the 30 days were up. The only thing that was unclear was the part with "edit the OOBETimer key value and set its value to "ff d5 71 d6 8b 6a 8d 6f d5 33 93 fd""
    The existing value had 2 lines with 0000 in front. I deleted everything and I was left with a line of 0000. While imputing the new value, it started generated numbers that I could not delete.
    I inputed the value you mentioned and clicked saved. and continued to the next steps, without a problem

    After restart, the windows activation message prompted me again to activated.
    What do I do now? Wait for the 30 days to be over and see if it works? I see you confirmed this in a message above, but can I do something to verify that it won't block access to my windows in 2 days when activation period expires?
    Thank you!
    Ana

    1. Eugen Mihailescu Post author

      That screen is divided in three columns:
      - the 1st is read-only and is automatically calculated by Windows
      - the 2nd is where you can input values in hexadecimal format
      - the 3rd is the ASCII representation of those hexadecimal values (it may be manually edited although not recommended)

      So just ignore the columns in the left and just enter the correct values into the 2nd column, as described above. I hope that you also have set the permission to that registry key (namely WPAEvents) as described in the article, otherwise XP will still prompt you with that alert message. By setting the permissions as described in the article we don't allow Windows to control/alter that key anymore so it will be unable to protect itself. Why do you bother using Windows anyway? Linux is free and believe me, it's faster, need fewer resources, and all the software you need it's usually also free. If you are novice then start with Ubuntu Linux. It's a "next->next->....->finish" installation, it auto-updates automatically (just like Windows) and ships with many applications by default (although you will be able later to install tons of whatever apps you need).

  6. mx

    Everyone seems to forget the part Where you can not accept the Eula for Microsoft genuine advantage or none of these will work. Someplace in the update process this will try to install if you have already accepted it all these hacks will fail.

    1. Eugen Mihailescu Post author

      You are perfectly right except the statement with "everyone seems to forget the part with EULA". I explicitly mentioned in the article to not break EULA and that the hack should be just temporarily (see also the red warning :)

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