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:
- the 30 days has expired so you cannot access the Desktop anymore
- 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:
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:
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:
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?).
- 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.
- If you start your Windows in "Safe mode" then the Windows Product Activation does not appear any more (regarding the safe-mode).
- 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
In this situation you are reminded (frequently enough) that you have only 30 (or less) days left for activation. The trick to bypass Windows XP product activation is the simplest and the most effective one.
- open Registry Editor (Start->Run then enter regedit and push OK button)
- open the registry key at the location HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWPAEvents
- edit the OOBETimer key value and set its value to "ff d5 71 d6 8b 6a 8d 6f d5 33 93 fd"
- right-click on the same key WPAEvents and select "Permissions"
- select SYSTEM group/user and check all DENY options (we won't allow XP to mess with us anymore, in fact we deny it firmly :o)
- click Advanced button then uncheck "Inherit from parent the permission...", press OK, when prompted at next step just answer with "Copy"
- in "Permission entries" select the SYSTEM then choose "Edit..."; check all the "Deny" permissions the OK+Apply
It should not ask you anymore for software activation. In fact you could run Start->All Programs -> Activate Windows and you should get an response message like "Windows is already activated". If not working then just try again, maybe you have missed something on the way.
[!] 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.