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XP Home Product Activation when changing motherboard

By Grok451
May 28, 2005
  1. I have an eMachines PC whose motherboard died. I couldn't find the same model motherboard as the original (ECS L7VMM Rev 1.0) for replacement, so I bought one that was close: PC Chips M825G KM266Pro, based upon a forum thread saying that this would be a good fit.

    The hardware swap went without a problem and I was able to boot up in safe mode to install the Via and other drivers for the new motherboard. But when I boot up in normal mode, XP Home says I need to activate. Checking on the Microsoft site, they won't activate, since I have an OEM Product ID, so I'm supposed to contact eMachines. I emailed eMachines and am waiting for a response.

    I know I can just go out and buy another copy of XP Home and do a new install, but aside from the cost and hassle, I'll lose the preinstalled software that came with the PC and won't be able to use the system restore disks that came with it. Is my only hope getting an answer from eMachines, or is there anything else I can do? The PC is a few years old, so won't be on support.

    *short intermission for a rant *
    With PC's coming down in price to the $200-$300 range, isn't it a little silly to have the OS cost $100-$200? Especially, if you can't transfer it to a repaired or upgraded PC?
    * rant over *

    Anyway, would appreciate any advice out there.
     
  2. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    Your only hope is eMachines indeed. It's an OEM version of the OS & it is probably locked in a way that it won't install & run on another machine then the one it was shipped with. Even if there's only be one part that's been replaced, it considers it to be a new system.

    & btw I'm not sure PCs that sell for $200-$300 have Windows on them.
     
  3. XApemanX

    XApemanX TS Rookie Posts: 17

    Information deleted by realblackstuff.

    We do NOT condone any illegal activities here!.
     
  4. Grok451

    Grok451 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 85

  5. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

  6. Grok451

    Grok451 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 85

    Thanks for the link realblackstuff. However, I don't think that fits my situation. My problem is that since I changed out the motherboard, XP needs to be reactivated, because of the hardware change. However, I can't activate through Microsoft, because it's an OEM version and Microsoft will no longer activate OEM versions.
     
  7. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

    Micro$oft: 1 - Grok451: 0

    No further (legal) advice.
     
  8. Grok451

    Grok451 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 85

    I solved the problem. After contacting eMachines support and going in circles a little bit, they finally gave me a product key to use. Turns out this product key was the same key used in the first place when the machine was manufactured by eMachines, so no dice. However, the product key on the XP Home COA (certificate of authenticity) label attached to the system case is different. I tried that key with Microsoft and it worked!

    My guess is that eMachines used some generic OEM product key when building the PC's which is the same for all machines of a particular build. They also tie that key to the BIOS of the motherboard to prevent its use on another system. At the same time, they still have to provide a unique XP Home product key, which is on the COA label, but this one is never used! So it was valid when I activated it.

    Now this does seem to explain to me why there are cheap OEM XP licenses being sold. I've seen ads for $60 licenses - see example here: http://www.pricegrabber.com/user_sales_getprod.php?masterid=477483&lot_id=1918385

    Here's how they describe the license:
    Windows XP Home Edition WITH SERVICE PACK 2 FULL VERSION Included CD MANUAL & PRODUCT KEY fully registerable ***FOR ANY PC*** NO COA THIS IS A DELL CD WILL WORK WITH ANY PC GUARANTEE

    So it seems to me that someone has figured this out and there are a lot of COA's on machines with legitimate product keys that have never been used, because the OEM vendor used their generic product key instead. Of course, the legality of using these keys is doubtful at best. Notice that the ad does state you don't get a COA.

    Anyone else know about this?
     
  9. wkt37211

    wkt37211 TS Rookie

    I recently performed a clean install on a friends compaq that came with restore disks. I didn't want to install all the bloat that often comes with "name brand" computers. This may have changed with newer systems but on a clean install on a gateway a couple of years ago I was not given any choice but to restore the pc to it's original factory state with all programs. Before formating the HD I used a utility to read the key for Win XP Home and used my OEM CD for the install. The COA label on the out side of the machine had a different key. The key that I found with the original install would let me install the OS but would not let me activate with M$ and told me to contact the system OEM. I then tried the key on the COA label and it worked fine. The issue with restore disks takes advantage of pc buyers that are not knowledgeable of M$ policies about hardware replacement and new OS upgrades. A lot of people don't realize that all they have purchased is a license to use the OS. I have also heard of people not being able to activate XP because they have activated their OS too many times. I know that M$ is trying to cut down on piracy but they may be going overboard. Not so long ago my wife was prompted by M$ update to install a new modem driver that turned out to be incorrect. When I corrected the problem it kicked off a 3 day reactivation warning and the pc is completely unchanged from the time I first built it! I guess that's just my rant and 2ยข. I am glad your problem was solved.
     
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