Windows XP - Validation and Activation

Information on Windows XP validation and activation, especially with regard to Microsoft's blocking of one of the University of Wisconsin's Windows XP volume license product keys.

Windows 9x/2000/XP/Vista

NOTE: Windows 95/98, Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista are no longer supported by the Help Desk. We can only provide best effort support. If we are unable to resolve your Windows 9x/2000/XP/Vista issue, you may be able to find help in Microsoft's Knowledge Base.

These products are no longer actively supported by Microsoft. No further development will take place on these products and security updates are no longer issued. It is highly recommended that you upgrade to Windows 10 or 8.

  • What happens when a key is marked as non-genuine…

    • when installing Windows XP with the key?

      • Nothing different happens during initial installation. When installing Windows XP from volume license media, no efforts that Microsoft has made to invalidate keys make any difference.
      • After the initial installation, Windows Genuine Advantage is one of the first things you have to download and install before you can begin downloading system patches. Validation occurs after that.
      • Microsoft cannot block new installations by marking a key as non-genuine.
    • when using a WinXP computer that was installed with the key?

      • User would get non-genuine nags at startup, login, and randomly during use. This is part of the user experience when a key is marked as non-genuine:
        • At login:

        • Random nags:

        • Would be unable to download non-critical updates from, such as IE7.
        • All systems, including those that fail to pass validation, will receive critical security updates.
        • The end-user’s ability to use the machine is not seriously affected. The non-genuine notifications would not be more than an annoyance for most users in most situations.
    • What’s the difference between activation and validation on Windows XP?

      • Windows Product Activation (WPA) ties your product key (and thus your Product ID, or PID) to your computer by creating an installation ID. The installation ID is made up of your PID and a PC identifier, called a hardware ID, or HWID. The installation ID is sent to a Microsoft license clearing-house, which checks that Microsoft manufactured that PID and that the PID has not been used to install the operating system on more hardware than is defined by the product's End User License Agreement (EULA). If this check fails, activation of Windows XP Professional fails. If this check passes, your computer is sent a confirmation ID, which activates your version of Windows XP. After Windows is activated, you never need to perform Product Activation again, unless you significantly overhaul the hardware in your computer. You must activate your installation within 30 days after installing Windows XP Professional. 

        • If another computer attempts to register with Microsoft using the same installation key, it would be unable to activate.
        • You can reinstall using the same key on the same computer as many times as you want.
        • Using volume-license installation media with a volume license installation key bypasses activation.
      • Validation checks the key used to install Windows XP when you log onto Microsoft web sites to download non-critical product updates or add-ons. If the key has been labeled as invalid, you would only be able to download critical updates, not optional ones such as IE7.

        • Validation (Windows Genuine Advantage) became mandatory for downloading non-critical updates in July 2005.
        • Validation is required for volume-licensed versions of Windows XP.

Keywords:Windows XP Validation and Activation microsoft   Doc ID:5768
Owner:Warren R.Group:DoIT Help Desk
Created:2007-04-18 19:00 CDTUpdated:2014-06-04 15:01 CDT
Sites:DoIT Help Desk
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