I need to deactivate Windows XP so I can set it up with a new license. Every tutorial I've visited followed the same steps. (Example from eHow)

The tutorials state that the 00BE timer file located in the registry needs to be modified. It is found by going to the registry and navigating through "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE," "Software," "Microsoft," "WindowsNT," "CurrentVersion" and "WPAEvents."

After the file is modified Windows should be deactivated. However it never does. The value changes but when I run the command to add a new license key it states "windows is already activated".

I've done this before on other machines at it worked fine. I can't find any other methods to change the license in XP. Has anyone ever had this issue or knows of another way of deactivating windows?

  • 1
    The reason you are having problems is that Microsoft does not support changing the license with the version of Windows your using. – Ramhound Oct 15 '12 at 10:55
  • It doesn't even get to the stage where I re-license Windows. It needs to be deactivated first, which is where I'm having trouble. – Travis Oct 15 '12 at 12:40
  • Don't know if this will work but run C:\WINDOWS\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a if that pops up with the activation wizard click activate over the phone, the next screen will have an option to change the Windows key, click it input the new key, click okay, click back and then click the activate over the internet and click next. – Winter Faulk Nov 15 '12 at 23:38
  • @Sane that will not work. The key Windows must be deactivated in order for that wizard to show up. My problem is that I can't deactivate Windows. – Travis Nov 16 '12 at 8:58
  • @Travis, wasn't sure if that would work or not, on Windows 7 it kind of works so I figured you could give it a try in XP. – Winter Faulk Nov 16 '12 at 16:29

This may be a little bit too obvious but the official Microsoft Support article has two possible methods for changing the product key. The first one is certainly the one you've already tried, but there is also a second method using a VBScript.

If you copy and paste the VBScript given in microsoft article http://support.microsoft.com/kb/328874 into a text editor like notepad, and then save the file with a .vbs extension (use quotation marks around the file name if you find that the .txt extension is automatically appended).

Then execute that script with the new product key as an argument as shown in the instructions given beneath the script. Obviously if you have noted saved it to the root of your C:\ drive the exact command you'll need to type into the run dialog will include the location where you have saved it. Alternatively you can run this from the command prompt in the same way.

  • Go to windows\system32\
  • Rename WPA.DBL and WPA.BAK
  • Restart

You should be prompted to activate windows with a new key.

  • 1
    Why not just deleting wpa.dbl and wpa.bak?? – Albin Nov 27 '18 at 19:33
  • My System is a fully updated Windows XP installation with PosReady 2009 updates. Changing reg key did not help, since it would be recreated with original value after restart. Renaming wpa.dbl worked. After reboot he refused to start windows and asked for activation. Changing product key and activating via phone worked well. Thanks – Pozzo-Balbi Feb 3 at 2:15

I have tried so many ways to remove the Windows XP license Key but I was not able to remove it from the computer. However, when I remove WPA.DBL and WPA.BAK file and after that I reboot the computer and then in the start up, it asked me to activate the license and that works perfectly fine for me. I appreciate for your help and Thank you so much!


I can't think of any good reason for doing what you are trying to do - if you are trying to change versions - you need to reinstall anyway... and, if you have OEM - it dies with the machine and cannot be moved - if however you have fully packaged product, and you need this one for another machine - then why can't you simply apply to the other machine the one you were going to change this machine to?


Windows doesn't have a way to "deactivate" (not talking KMS/advanced stuff here), you are simply corrupting the license and applying a new one.

As annoying as activation is, it isn't about annoying end/home users who have the correct amount - it is about stopping piracy on a large scale.

You should always try the right thing, but, if activation fails and you have the correct intentions/correct amount of licenses/similar, you have done your best (well, hope someone else can give you an answer, but if they don't - read on!)

I previously had a problem with Windows Server licenses when I needed to change from a MSDN key to partner key (due to usage restrictions), I couldn't easily change and I was simply told by Microsoft that as long as they are all activated without issue, and I remember what is what, they quite frankly don't care and have bigger issues... just don't take advantage.

e.g. if I have 5 MSDN keys (development only) and 3 partner keys(for internal usage) - they wouldn't don't really care if you re-purpose a development one to internal use, as long as you don't go over 3 internal use and don't take advantage of them.

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