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I'm helping a friend fix a broken XP Home installation. We did a repair install, and if I log in to safe mode I can see that everything looks good now. Unfortunately, safe mode is the only way I can log in (can't even use safe mode with networking). If I try to log in any other way, it tells me that the computer is not activated and the grace period has expired. I can choose to cancel (at which point I'm back at the login prompt) or to continue. If I continue, I get a screen with a light blue background and a mouse cursor that I can move, but I never see the activation wizard.

I've tried this:

Any other ideas?

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Personally if it was mine I would use safe mode to backup the data and then do a clean install.

Alternately try using msconfig to turn off all non essentials in services, startup etc and try starting in normal mode again.

Also use a Bootable AntiVirus CD to check the whole drive for nasties, just in case they are the problem. See for a list. If you don't have one already.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I figured it out. The problem was that I used a volume licensed media for the repair install, and it was an OEM originally. I did it again with OEM media, and everything was fine.

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First I agree with doing a clean install, cause obviously their are some underlying issues with Windows that a repair install did not fix.

Try to get the Windows Activation window to come up in Safe Mode:

Start | Run %systemroot%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a

You can then just use the Activation by Phone option.

Good Luck!

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It won't work unless you have internet access, and I can only get to base Safe Mode, not safe mode with network support. – Joel Coehoorn Jun 20 '11 at 19:02
Windows Activation can be completed by phone as well. – Sean Jun 20 '11 at 19:22

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