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The latest round of Patch Tuesday updates left my Windows XP computer unbootable. ("Fatal System Error: The Windows Logon Process system process terminated unexpectedly.") After much messing around with the recovery console, an XP CD's repair mode, and manually copying registry files around, I have a system that can boot again. However, I overwrote my OEM XP installation's activation information while trying to run a retail XP CD's setup, so it needs reactivation.

Here's my problem: I cannot activate it at all. I log in, Windows tells me I have to activate to continue, I click Yes, and absolutely nothing happens: no windows, no response to keyboard or mouse, no response to Ctrl-Alt-Del, nothing. Safe mode works, but I can't activate in safe mode (EDIT: not even safe mode with networking). I read a trick online of pressing [Windows Key]+U to bring up the Microsoft Narrator, and that works, but clicking its Microsoft Web Site link does nothing.

My last attempt to resolve this was to reinstall Windows off of the OEM CD. Now I have two parallel Windows installations, both on the same hard drive, one with all of my stuff and no way to activate it, one fully activated with no usable programs.

Any ideas? Any way to activate in safe mode? Any way to copy activation information from my activated installation to my unactivated installation (since they're both on the same hard drive)?

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will it activate in safe mode with networking enabled? – NoCarrier Feb 11 '10 at 20:56
you can't use activation files from a different windows installation. – Molly7244 Feb 11 '10 at 20:56
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I would try a system restore back to when it was all okay, run an sfc /scannow and then try to install the updates again via Microsoft Update.

You could also try activating from the command line:

oobe/msoobe /a

EDIT-- It may worth giving a repair installation a go, if you have not already tried to do so.

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System Restore's calendar of dates is blank, and sfc /scannow fails saying that RPC is unavailable. I'm starting to think that there may be enough breakage that I should just reformat and reinstall. – Josh Kelley Feb 12 '10 at 13:39
Hmm, that's not good. I updated my answer but failing the repair installation, I think you are right and would be wise to rebuild the machine from scratch. – Kez Feb 12 '10 at 14:14
Repair didn't work. Time to rebuild. Thanks. – Josh Kelley Feb 12 '10 at 22:05

I found that a repair installation left me in a state where it said I needed to reactivate Windows, but the activation dialog would not come up. It turns out that I had remnants of IE8 still on the machine, but the repair had put some IE6 files back onto the machine. I did an uninstall of IE8 by using the files in c:\Windows\IE8\spuninst while in Safe Mode, and then I rebooted in Normal mode. At that point the activation dialog came up and I was able to continue.

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You'll have to install your operating system again and erase any other OSes you have installed.

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