View Full Version : OT: windows os question

02-14-2005, 05:01 PM
My son uses his computer for his homework (word, and excel) and for online gaming. He had previously been running win98 and had troubles with one of his new games.

In a fit of desperation one weekend (after trying a ton of other things) I decided to install my copy (currently installed and registered on my machine) of windows xp pro (and not activate it yet), thinking that if it worked out I would just by a copy of xp pro. Well, for whatever reason xp has helped to make the game run flawlessly for the last couple weeks.

So, I need to buy a legit copy to install on his machine, or possibly try one the freeware OS's. I'm a bit hesitant to try the freeware stuff as the game worked so well with xp, not to mention he uses word and excel 2002 for his homework.

I see a ton of outfits offering xp for sale, some "full retail" some "upgrade" some "license only". I'd like to take the path of least resistance on this. Is it possible for me to just by a legit product code key and activate the xp copy that is currently on his machine?

Or would I need to do a complete re-install? If I have to re-install with a fresh copy and product key, can I install xp home over the copy of xp pro currently on the machine? Or do I have to install his copy of win98 again and then install the upgrade win xp home?

What is the difference between this $65 license only product

and this $150 "Windows XP Home SP/1a, Full Retail Box Version"

Should I even consider trying one of the freeware OS, browser, and office suites?? Are they stable for gaming? Is a freeware word and excel available that would be compatible with the ms word, and excel files he uses at school?


02-14-2005, 05:33 PM
Some OEM versions will be tied to the system BIOS and do not require activation. I believe that some Dell models have done this. It may also be model specific so beware.

A "full retail box" version should install on any compatible machine but will require activation. AFAIK, activation after 120 days on another machine will not be bounced but is, of course, illegal http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//eek.gif

02-14-2005, 06:47 PM
I'm really suprised to see that Dell recovery disk for sale. It won't work except on the computer it was intended for. Microsoft does not allow discounting by anyone and the agreement they have with Dell most certainly does not allow XP recovery disks to be sold seperately.

02-14-2005, 07:55 PM
Windows XP Home Edition came on my new Dell computer. A friend owns a business with a LAN network, so he had 10 copies of XP Professional that he'd bought. Gave me one & I installed it. Then I had two operating systems...which lasted about three weeks until nothing worked...system wouldn't restore...had to reformat the drive & start over...lost everything...whaddapaininthebutt!

02-14-2005, 08:04 PM
Go online and buy a OEM version of Windows XP pro for 99$ Nearly all stores require you buy a piece of hardware to go with it . It is what I do.

02-14-2005, 08:18 PM
As I mentioned in my post, I don't have a problem buying a legit upgrade version. If I buy a "upgrade" version of xp home, can it upgrade from the currently installed (but not activated) xp pro... or do I have to go back and somehow install win98 to do the upgrade from?

If I buy a copy of win xp pro (which is what is installed but not activated now) can I just use the key code out of that package without having to install the software off that particular disk as well?

If not can I install over the existing (not activated) copy of win xp pro? Or again, do I have to figure out how to de-install xp pro and install win98 before installing the new xp??


02-14-2005, 08:58 PM
If you buy an upgrade XP home/pro at some
point early in the install it will say
"it could not find a prior copy of Windows,
do you have a disk?" Plug in the WinME disk
and it will look at it, be satisfied and
proceed with the install. You can always
install over a prior copy if you don't want
to do an uninstall. Make sure you copy any
favorites, outlook address books and other
internal windows databases.

J Tiers
02-14-2005, 09:55 PM
Watch out for "upgrade" copies.....

If you ever have to do a full re-install, guess what? Yep, its gonna want that old version that you threw out last year.....

Otherwise,it may be an expensive gift box......

Been there....dug in the basement.....found the old version.....now I keep 'em a bit handier.

02-14-2005, 11:34 PM
You cannot install XP over XP, any version. You cannot even expect a repair install of XP to work sucessfully if they are at different service pack levels. You will need to wipe the drive and start over. If you have any copy of 98SE or ME then you can use the upgrade version of XP. You don't need to install 98 or ME, just present the disk when asked to do so.

02-15-2005, 06:19 AM
I had ME on my PC for 2 yrs(i can feel the wave of sympathy towards me now. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif)I had trouble playing BF1942 online with it when i started online play plus some other new games out only specify Win XP only(you have to hack them to play under ME/98 and then they are unstable).

I purchased an OEM copy of XP for AUS$140...OEM copies can be bought with a PS2 keyboard...

I asked around and was advised to format the hard drive before installing XP and not to install over 98/ME...I did this and have had no trouble ever since...XP made me realise how crap ME really was...

02-15-2005, 09:01 AM
To answer your question, Microsoft will activate the temp copy on the new computer for a "license" fee. They will do this online when you attempt to activate the new install.

Crazy Ed
02-15-2005, 10:47 AM
Long post on Livecd's and linux.

As to the 'free o/s's', windows games are still iffy to play in any linux I have seen.

IF your son wants to 'broaden' his mind, then try one of the 'livecd' versions. Probably the most ustilized one is Knoppix. You can d/l it from www.knoppix.net. (http://www.knoppix.net.) Just click on the button that says 'get knoppix'. Or for less than ten dollars s/h, you can buy a cd.

I am running a 'dual boot' with w98 and Simply Mepis which started life as a live cd.

Livecd's are .iso images on a cd that if the boot sequence is set to look for a bootable os on the cdrom BEFORE the hard drive (you may or may not be already setup in the bios to boot from cd before the hd), anywho, it is easy to change just that one parameter. The result is that when nothing is in the cdrom, you will get a message at boot up of something like:

Looking for bootable cdrom: Failure

Then the system looks at the hard drive and continues as before it was set to look first for a bootable cdrom.

Knoppix, slak live, Simply Mepis, and pclinuxos all boot on this old machine fine.

K6-2 350 128mb ram, slow cdrom.

Oh, IF you have hispeed...dsl or cable and it uses the usual dchp connection, you will be online when the first 'browser' pops up. Knoppix by default starts Konqueror which is much more than just a browser...I use mozilla or firefox personnalllly!

All of them have open office which has calc..a mostly compatible spreadsheet and the documents can be saved in windoze compatible/readable formats.

Simply Mepis is... simply easy to install..will split the 'doze partition if you tell it to partition the drive otherwise bye bye all data. Oh, IF you install, do a defrag of windows before you do!! VERY IMPORTANT TO DO SO.

Also, after simply mepis is installed,
grub..the boot loader it comes with, will show a windows os about 3 or 4 items from the first screen. I can start my doze (two days ago was the first time it has been opened in over a year), er, w98 partiton and do the 'doze thing.

I can also open files from Simply Mepis and copy and save them here in this partition...wordpad/word/notepad...any office type stuff. So I can attach and send 'old stuff' from the windows partition(s) to the web while in linux.

Just answering a few ????'s I felt brewing in your mind.

Now IF you open up the forums on any of the distro's homepages, don't be put off by the immense amount of problems you see. Knoppix users are in the tens of millions world wide and all sorts of hardware/internet/whatever configs that would and do tax even the Redmond Monster.

Second, remember that linux is a 'made by volunteers' O/S, not some corp. that thinks its stuff doesn't stink. So, some things require much tinkering and joining groups to figure out. I haven't gotten the scanner to work ... that is why I opened up w98. I also haven't figured out how to get Hylafaz correctly installed.. again second reason for returning to my 1996 purchase of mightyfax. I need to fax my timesheet once a week and don't like to pay when I have hardware that works!!

another thought, IF you worry about Knoppix or Simply Mepis messing with your hard drive, just open case when powered down and remove the power plug!! They 'boot' as live cd's, into the ram only and do the cdrom/ram thingy.

I could be writing this if I put knoppix cd or simply mepis cd in the cdrom and you would never know the hd wasn't spinning! Done that, been there. Picked up a 'newer' box for free because they were throwing it out as the hd had crashed!! Geez, put knoppix in and booted up after confirming they would give it to me for free. They about died! But they were right, it only desktop icon-ed the floppy drive and the cdrom.. No hdX1 etc icon!!

02-15-2005, 12:12 PM
Hmm, now I'm even more confused than before (if that's possible). When I posted this initially I assumed you are prevented from installing a single copy of xp media on more than one puter. So, I never attempted to activate the copy on my sons machine.

Just for the heck of it, I tried typing in the key code that I used to activate the copy on my machine. It activated the copy on my sons machine just fine. Got all the updates downloaded and it seems to be working fine.

Don't understand why it let me do this? Maybe it's because I have four machines networked behind a dsl modem and router, and all the machines look like one to the outside?

Should I expect a knock on the door from the software police?? I live in the same state as Bill Gates, maybe he will come by personally to pay me a visit. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

Color me confused and wondering what, if anything, I should do...

02-15-2005, 12:48 PM
The product key used to install windows is not the activation key.

Product activation takes place after windows is installed and running. The activation process looks a the internal hardware of the machine. It collects about 10 different numbers including amount of ram, processor type, bios version number, NIC card MAC address, CPUID number, hard drive serial number and a few others. These numbers are swirled together with the product key to generate a single number that is absolutely unique to the machine. Even another identically configured machine will not generate the same value.

Then, to actually activate the machine the computer "phones home" to contact the activation server. The activation server extracts the product key from the ID that was generated. It compares it to its database of valid product keys and stolen or leaked product keys. If it determines that it is valid and has not been used before to activate a copy of XP then it sends back a code that completes the activation process.

However, there are a few kinks. If more than three parts that are used to create the activation code are changed then re-activation is necessary. But, to avoid causing too much hassle for users Microsoft allows activation to occur up to three times with the same product key as long as there is a certain amount of time has elaspsed since the last activation. The seems to be about six months. This also means that XP can be installed on more than one machine if you wait between activations.

If you install XP on a machine and do not activate it then in 30 days the machine will boot to a blank desktop and cannot be used.

There are also XP pro corporate key copies floating around. These do not require activation but Microsoft knows what the keys are and will refuse to allow these copies access to Windows Update.

Also, if the activation server refuses to activate the machine then you have the option of actually phoning a toll free number and talking to a computer and then a very bored rep. The first thing they will ask is "So, how many other computers has this copy of XP been installed on?" You have the option of lying through your teeth and saying "None, I just changed the motherboard, the cpu and the hard drive".

It's up to you.

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 02-15-2005).]

Paul Alciatore
02-15-2005, 01:19 PM
"Oh, the tangled web we weave, ..."

What we need is a software users group that absolutely refuses to use any protected software. And get the Fortune 500 to join.

Paul A.

02-15-2005, 04:49 PM
Ok, that makes sense Evan. I remember reading about the having to contact the mother ship when changing components. Basically, it all may be fine now. But when his hd (or whatever component(s)) decides to croak and gets replaced, the machine will not re-authenticate with the same product key... Wonder if it gives you 30 days after a new component install, of if it just shuts down right after the install.

Sure would be nice if I could just buy another key code for his machine... of course I wouldn't have the media to go along with the code. Unless I made a copy of the one disk I do have. That's probably not copacetic either. I did poke around in xp help to see if there was any option to this but nothing turned up.

Basically I'm just trying to get around having to 1. copy all the critical stuff (favorites, files etc.) "somewhere" so they can be re-installed after the hard drive format. 2. Wipe the drive. 3. Install win98se (which I have about 3 copies of). 4. Purchase and install the xp "upgrade" media and product key. 5. Figure out how to get all his data and application software back on the machine. 6. Pray that it actually works.... But I guess I have no other choice.


02-15-2005, 05:48 PM
If you change enough components to require activation it doesn't give you any time. In fact it is a PITA. I just recently changed the MB, RAM and CPU on a customers machine. It then insisted that it needed to be activated again. Since it wouldn't boot to the desktop we couldn't do it over the net as the network card driver wasn't yet installed. We had to do it by phone which is an unpleasnt waste of time. Microsoft is using a speech recognition system these days and if there is one thing I hate more than burning my balls with a torch it is trying to hold a conversation with a computer.

If you have a second hard drive then slave it to the first and use Ghost to copy the works over. Then format and install XP. You don't need to install 98 first. You can use the upgrade edition to install to a wiped drive and during the install it will ask you to prove you own 98. You put the 98 disk in and it checks it. No biggie.

Or, you could network the two computers and backup from one to the other. Or you could create a backup folder and put everything you want to save in there. Export favorites, address book, my documents etc. Then boot to a Knoppix CD and set the HD permissions to read/write. Then delete all folders except the backup folder. Then install XP.