I have an eeePC 1005 HE where the Windows XP CD key has become unreadable on the sticker (apparently it fades out by design). I'd like to retrieve the CD key (or the one that was used in the preinstalled windows) from that system. There is a recovery partition (Windows PE) on it that would let me restore it to factory settings. Is there any way I can extract the CD key from the recovery partition, without performing a full recovery?
Asus is almost certainly using OEM Pre-Activation on your computer, which means that they are just using a generic key from Microsoft in the install. There is a list of these keys here.
You can try manually copying the OEM BIOS activation files from your computer so that you can activate it later. There's been some work done on this kind of thing to automate activation with these keys. Check out this site. It's meant for a clean installation from an XP disk, but you might be able to get the scripts to work without it.