Preserving OEM Pre-Activation when Re-installing Windows XP. Updated: April 20, 2005. By Stephanie Ybarra. Large PC Manufacturers known as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have the ability to pre-activate Microsoft® Windows XP software installed on new PCs. As a result, end users are typically not required to activate the software during the set up process by typing in the product key found on the Certificate of Authenticity attached to the PC (COA Key). In order to reduce a significant source of piracy, Microsoft has disabled online activation for COA Keys that are attached to PCs that have been pre-activated by OEMs. This change should have a minimal impact on licensed users who generally do not use their COA Key to activate the software because it has been pre-activated by the OEM.
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However, if a licensed end user needs to activate because the OEM pre-activation does not work as expected (e. after the replacement of a defective motherboard) they can do so via phone-based activation. To help minimize the potential impact on licensed users, this whitepaper provides steps licensed end users can take to preserve OEM pre-activation when reinstalling the operating system using any of the four scenarios outlined below (sysprep, OOBEinfo, manual and unattended).
The following product keys should be substituted for XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX in the solutions discussed below.