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What Options are there to activate Windows XP nowadays?

The "regular" methods provided with XP (phone and online) don't work anymore. The phone number is not valid for activation anymore (I tried the German one) and the online activation does not work either (in a quick test within a DMZ other protocols like ICMP or HTTP worked fine when I accessed an internet server).

Activation screen

The latest question/answer I could find here on superuser is this one: XP Activation and Dual Booting which doesn't provide an answer to my question. In addition the question asks only if it can be done in general not how (neither does the existing answer say how), and about other problems (dual boot), so I decided to post the question again as specific question just about the activation process.

The solutions can be a workaround (disabling the activation check), but for security reasons, it shouldn't contain a binary download. Preferably it also shouldn't require a network/internet connection. Although there is no way around using WinXP, I want to minimize security risks.

EDIT1: Since quite a few people asked, please note why (in my opinion) this question is not a duplicate of XP Activation and Dual Booting, please see my explanation above. I made a thorough explanation in meta here.

EDIT2: it was suggested to call MS support and/or sales unfortunately they do not help with WinXP anymore.

EDIT3: please be aware that running an outdated OS without security updates poses security risks explained here as BurceWayne points out correctly. Therefore, if possible you should change/upgrade the OS of your device. However in some cases it's not an option to change to a different OS, e.g. because certain drivers/HW/SW is only compatible with Win XP.

EDIT4: note, the activation process comes after entering a installation/serial key (e.g. from the licence sticker)

  • I ran into this last year and the activation servers turned out to be down rather than gone forever. – cloneman Nov 18 at 9:00
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    I seem to recall something like 400,000 ATM machines running on Windows XP as of a few years ago. The producers were paying Microsoft yearly fees for maintenance. This could explain why it's still possible to activate Windows XP as noted in Albin's answer (in case an ATM machine needed to be replaced). – rcgldr Nov 18 at 10:58
  • Created a new Hyper-V VM, installed Windows XP SP3 (from MSDN), activated without problems. Windows Update isn’t working properly anymore though. – Daniel B Nov 18 at 13:46
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    @rcgldr for windows XP activation was only for the consumer releases, volume license copies of XP do not require activation. – plugwash Nov 18 at 15:19
  • XP activates fine for me with an internet connection (mid 2019). Note that's using it from within a VirtualBox in Linux Mint. As soon as it's activated, I disable the net connection. – Neil_UK Nov 19 at 15:48
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I found two solutions, both of them work offline, so you don't have to connect the WinXP system to a network (although I have to use WinXP I try to minimize security risks):

A) Activating over the phone

Calling the current MS activation number for a product still in support (eg for activation for Win7) and choosing "Other Products" in the voice menu. This is my preferred one since you don't have to tamper with the system. In my case (Nov 2019) I followed the link to the Microsoft Licensing Activation Centers worldwide telephone numbers.

B) Disabling activation process

Deleting the value of the OOBETimer key (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows NT/CurrentVersion/WPAEvents/OOBETimer) and starting the activation via command prompt: msoobe /a. This will disable the activation requirement for good, but might cause issues (although I haven't found any yet) (source)

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    AFAIK what would cause the re-request for activation would be the release of a new update, which would reset the OOBETimer. Since MS aren't releasing updates for WInXP anymore, that should no longer be an issue. – GeoffAtkins Nov 18 at 5:40
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    @GeoffAtkins yay? – Stop Harming Monica Nov 18 at 15:26
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    Good answer, this worked for me a couple of weeks ago when a VM I have suddenly wanted to be re-activated. I was really surprised the phone system still worked. – Organic Marble Nov 18 at 15:35
  • B works and to go a step further you can use a W7/10 upgrade installation on top of it. – blankip Nov 18 at 17:45
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    @GeoffAtkins technically correct, although there was an out of band update this year, and also for Window Server 2003. When the Navy stops using it, then it dies. – mckenzm Nov 18 at 20:01
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Regarding failure of online activation, did you check the date on the system?

I activated Windows XP on an old machine one week ago.

After two days of trying to figure out why almost everything Internet-related was not working (browsing, windows update, activation), it turns out the date was wrong and set to 2004.

A wildly wrong date will break anything that uses ssl/tls, as certificates will be assumed to be either expired (if the date is in the future) or not yet valid (if the date is in the past). This apparently includes windows activation.

I changed it to the current date & time and was able to activate and update the OS.

  • 2
    This post does not answer the question. – sven.to Nov 18 at 15:19
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    The OP is claiming that online activation does not work, he is assuming this is a server problem, but it's equally possible it's a client problem, especially as others are reporting succesful activations. Having a wildly wrong date will break any online service that uses SSL/TLS because certificates will be regarded as "not yet valid". – plugwash Nov 18 at 21:31
  • @plugwash that should be edited into the answer! – pkamb Nov 19 at 8:34
  • Additionally, updates may be required due to server-side encryption changes. – Daniel B Nov 19 at 9:16
  • I wonder if different installation images use different activation servers. I would like to try an image on the machine in question which has prooved to have a working online activation on a different machine. – Albin Nov 19 at 11:43
0
  • There are times when it is easier for me to write a bat than to write in English ... forgive me for not having answered in commants, I was installing and adding via cmd/bat to later post here the way to do it:

enter image description here


So, try this bat to do this process. Due to the limit size (3.9mb) for .gif files, link for viewers here.

@echo off && cd /d "."
rem :: the windows reg key used to activate process in this bat/cmd read/write/delete ::  
set "_wpaKey=HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\WPAEvents"

reg query  "%_WPAKey%" | find /i "OOBETimer"                & rem/ output key value in screen
reg export "%_WPAKey%" ".\PAEvents_SAVE_Original.Reg"       & rem/ save original value in file
reg delete "%_WPAKey%" /v "OOBETimer" /f >nul               & rem/ remove the key/value
reg add    "%_wpaKey%" /v OOBETimer /t REG_BINARY /f        & rem/ recreate the key/value
timeout /t -1 2> nul                                        & rem/ time out to see the results
cd /d "C:\WINDOWS\system32\oobe"                            & rem/ goto to drive/folder C:\WINDOWS\system32\oobe\
start "" /realtime C:\WINDOWS\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a   & rem/ start the activate windows interface 
echo/:: sample key !! --^>  ISAY-REIN-STAT-EMO-NICA^!       & rem/ if need put some windows key to view/copy/paste   
pause >nul                                                  & rem/ pause to keep console windows 

enter image description here

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    @Albin Ijust stopped my work, then I go home, install Windows and write the code/testing for you to do by a simple way! Just it! For sure the code works! – It Wasn't Me Nov 18 at 9:20
  • @Albin So, for future possible use and for some else too! – It Wasn't Me Nov 18 at 10:23
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    I didn't downvote, but maybe they find your answer too confusing. I would try to get rid of the unessential info. E.g. I find the picture of the comments and the vid hard to follow and for me it doesnt add any value. – Albin Nov 18 at 19:45
  • @Albin By now, relax and enjoy ! – It Wasn't Me Nov 18 at 20:07
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    Sorry, I have no idea what you mean. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ I just tried to give you a possible explanation to your question why s.o. might have down voted your answer. – Albin Nov 18 at 20:11
-1

To be honest I never activated an installation of Windows XP legitimately, with one major reason being I'm located in China where codes like MRX3F can be found online everywhere.

I'm not advocating piracy but the truth is, no one cares about this 2001-era antique anymore, so most likely you'll find any working solution satisfactory.

In fact the last time I had to touch Windows XP was preparing for labs of an archaeological course where we're taught about 8086 assembly (Intel Microprocessors), and I just applied a random solution that I found online to activate the Windows XP in my virtual machine.

In fact Windows XP uses offline activation, and its verification algorithm has long been leaked, which means anyone can generate an infinite amount of valid keys and get along with them.

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    Is there some source about analysis of the algorithm ? – beppe9000 Nov 19 at 12:29
  • @beppe9000 Here's one I've found, note it's in Chinese. – iBug Nov 22 at 19:57

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