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If you know a LOT about WPA, need some help here

By Vigilante · 59 replies
Dec 27, 2005
  1. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    well said, vigilante,
    everybody hates M$. they charge an outrageous price for os. i know, if the os was $30 or $40, there would be no piracy to worry about, and everybody would be happy. instead of M$ peeking into people's private machines to see what's there and what's not. god knows what else they extract from our machines that we don't know about.
    anyway, you may already know this. but here's a very good explanation of WPA here
  2. cozofdeath

    cozofdeath TS Rookie Posts: 19

    Is it possible to copy/backup the oem cd? Is it legal? If so how can it be done? I want to just copy the cd instead of cloning a clean pc.
  3. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    you can copy the cd. but i don't know the rammification of it legally. most of the time, the content of I:386 is copied to c: drive, and windows is told that the source is in c:\I386. our machines at work (oem/corp) version works that way. so, when we have to install needed component, we don't have to have the original oem cd.
    in my home machine i use oem cd with cd key and c.o.a. which i purchased from here. it didn't prompt me for activation (since it's an o.e.m.) i have verified it online with M$ usine "is your copy genuine?" at M$ site

    i can copy it to as many machines as i want. but, if in any scenario, one of those machine communicates with microsoft, and asks for cd key, and another machine does the same, then one has got to be a copy and it will sound the alarm.
  4. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    practically all xp cd's are the same!!!
    check i:386\setupp.ini (yes, 2 p's)
    looks like this:
    the difference between full retail and oem full version, is that the 270 is OEM.
    there are other numbers too. 270 is retail, OEM is oem.
    i can get you other numbers too. my cd on my home machine is volume cd.
  5. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    here's how activation works. to read the machanism, click here
    it can be cracked. as a matter of fact, someone did last year on his website, but they shut it down.
  6. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    the cd key that you're typing, is embeded on the cd, but it's encrypted. think about it. why else, if you mis-type a letter, it tells you it's invalid. you can't use any key on any other cd.

    some oem cd's are hardware locked to the machine, some are not. you can actually get oem cd's from retailers that has dell logo on, but work on home made machines. check this outfit here

    they sell "cd only".
    here's the legal notice:
    CD Only - this software is identical to full retail version except no retail box or manual is provided. Usually an online manual can be accessed on the CD.

    Is it legal to sell OEM / CD Only software?

    This is a great question, many of the software companies would like you to believe the answer is no and often attempt to scare customers by placing text on the CD that says, for example; “For distribution with a new pc only” or something to that effect, but rest assured it is in fact legal to purchase OEM software. The truth is that the First Sale Doctrine protects our right, as well as yours to sell OEM / CD Only software.

    Software companies have attempted to circumvent the first sale doctrine by creating elaborate licensing agreements, in which they claim that the software is not actually yours, but that you only licensed it. Several courts however have found it does in fact meet the criteria of a sale and therefore have upheld the first sale doctrine.
  7. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    ok, firstly
    This, I'm afraid to say, is wrong. The CD key is NOT encrypted and encoded into the disk. It is one of a number of "sets" of keys that are generated by Microsoft, via complex algorythms. As such, you can use any valid key on any valid disk. It is even possible to generate valid keys, but because these are not on a list of keys which MS has that are legal, they won't activate copies installed with such keys.

    As far as I can tell, there are four types of key... Home keys, Professional Keys, Volume licence keys, and OEM keys for home and pro. I am certain that any key will install any type of CD, but I don't know if any key can be used on any edition of XP (home, pro, 64, or media).

    As for the legality - you don't pay for the CD. Nor do you even pay for the software on it. You pay for the licence to use the software on the cd on a specified number of machines (usually 1), and so making a copy of the cd and/or its contents is perfectly legal for your own personal use.

    The OEM keys are vedor specific. VLKs avoid having to activate.
  8. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    you may be right on the certain key for cetrain edition. i couldn't swear that i'm right. will my vlk key work on any vlk cd? i think not. can you research? i'm not sure. did you read the wpa text i posted? you're right vlk's don't have to activate.
  9. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    I think Upgrade edition keys are also different. As I've seen, you can't use somebodies XP Home Upgrade Product Key using a retail CD to install. So add upgrade keys to that list.

    alidabiri - Yes your VL key should work with any VL CD of the SAME OS type, Home, Pro, Server etc...
    The most common VL, though, is XP Pro, don't link I've ever seen a XP Home corp.

    I know this to be true simply because here at work we have one copy of each type of Windows, which we use en masse to load everybodies PC with whatever Product Key they have. If a customer has a Dell with a sticker, we use the OEM CD. Home or Pro or upgrade, we use those CDs. And we have corp CDs as well, should somebody have a VL key. Which I KNOW, a VL key does NOT work on a regular Home or Pro CD. Ran into that even last week.

    And as pointed out many times, the setupp.ini file can be changed to accept keys from OEM, Retail and Upgrade versions. VL too I believe. But I haven't tried all of them.

    Now also, when you say the key is "encrypted" onto the CD. You may just be referring to "restore" CDs from people like Dell and HP, because when you use those CDs, you don't have to type a Product Key. In which case, the key IS on the disk, not encrypted, but inside a premade "answer file". And answer file can be created easy, and is a big help when loading many PCs where you don't want to answer 10 questions on each one.

    I also second the fact that XP CDs can be copied no problem. It is ONLY that dumb key you are paying for, and can use on ONE PC, for the common license.
  10. cozofdeath

    cozofdeath TS Rookie Posts: 19

    Im pretty sure you can use the VL keys on any installation of XP because people were using them to get past activation. Thats why sp1 & sp2 checks with microsoft to activate, and you recieve a list of two pirated product ids:XXXXX-640-0000356-23XXX and XXXXX-640-2001765-23XXX that are stored locally on your computer. With that said, is it possible to use a oem manufactures key or your unused oem license key on other computers? Even with an algorithm on the key you should still be able to do that right?
  11. cozofdeath

    cozofdeath TS Rookie Posts: 19

    The reason I asked if the oem cds were copy protected some how is because everytime I try to copy my restore cd it dosen't come out right, it just hangs with a black screen and a _. The i386 and another folder are locked. But when extracted with ISOBustor, they are completly extracted. All the files are there including the extracted boot image. I used a boot image burner with the correct settings. I tried puting the catalog file with the boot image and that didn't work. And for the Virtual machine settings, is there a virtual bios that I have to go into to set it to boot from cd because won't recognise any boot cds.

    And my last post might not be correct, I just seen on this site http://aumha.org/win5/a/wpa.php they clam microsoft checks for pirated ids not anything having to do with a file on your computer.

    There are also many different files on my restore cd then a retail version of xp. So if I were to do an installation using just the i386 folder would that still work?
  12. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    First off, don't insult me - it's not becoming.

    Now, to answer your questions...

    will my vlk key work on any vlk cd?
    As far as I'm aware, yes. I've actualy tried an assortment of VLKs on a number of types of CD's. There's no such thing as a VLK CD anymore (it used to be called XP corporate). MS discontinued the corporate edition a long time ago - it's a Pro CD with a volume licence. The only thing I haven't tried them on is a home CD. Even if you can't use a home upgrade key on a retail disk, the information you gave is still incorrect. The keys are generated in sets by MS, some of which have never been used. There are still many keys that have yet to be even generated. All you have to do to generate a key for home, pro or volume licence, s to download a program written for the task some time ago. The program has a version for generating both retail; and OEM keys. Any valid key you generate will work. I suspect that, Vigilantes comments being correct, the keys are certainly coded for product type, but most definitely NOT for individual CDs.

    can you research?
    Yes. I can. In fact, I know that the VLKs can operate across different typs of CD, because I've tested it. I know multiple valid keys will work on the same pro (OEM, or retail) CD, because I've done it, after generating them myself.

    did you read the wpa text i posted? you're right vlk's don't have to activate

    first, yes I did read it. not all of it - I skimmed the jist of it Read it all before in various documents. secondly, I know I'm right about that - apart from it being common knowledge I mentioned it far earlier in the thread.

    *And just before anybody declares me a person with a peg-leg, parrot and eye-patch, - most of what I'vew just said is common knowldge, and I do things such as this both to learn, and to kill time.
  13. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    lol, this thread is barely getting closer to the goal I started it for :)

    Now that we are all understanding how Keys work with disks and activation. We still must find out how to implement preactivation.

    In my mind, my first thought still stands, if the preactivation check through the oembios files, simply tries to match the bios to the files on the restore CD (thus pining the CD to that particular bios), then preactivation should be possible. This makes sense because:
    1) You cannot use this CD on any other PC, because of the special files locked to this one BIOS.
    2) If you use another CD to load this particular PC, it will require regular activation because the files are not locked to this PC for preactivation.
    These two points make it seem as though this is NOT a matter of specials keys from MS, or special BIOSes. Because either way, MS and BIOS manus have to be making deals about things. Which doesn't fit.

    Is does NOT make logical sense that Microsoft makes a deal with mobo manufacturers to put certain data in each individual bios and link it to each key. Then sells those keys to the same company who is buying the mobos. That isn't right.
    The only way this can work for an end user is IF the preactivation is NOT key based, or hardware based. In which case there is a special way to lock a CD to a BIOS thus facilitating the function of preactivation.

    As I've said earlier, XP creates these oembios files after Windows is installed. I found a script to extract them from the system folder. After placing them back on the CD again using an ISO utility, and creating an answer file with the keycode in there, it still didn't work. And it might only be because I missed a step.

    It doesn't make sense to me that preactivation is some super-secret pact between OEMs, MS, and mobo manus. Nor does it make sense that MS gives out special keys that allow for preactivation. I don't think the key has anything to do with it. I think it has everything to do with putting the right, system locked, files onto the OS CD with the right answer file, in the right formats, to allow preactivation.
    I've seen many times, that multiple keys work with preactivation. This is apparent simply in the fact that, say Dell, will mass copy their hard drives, all with the same oem key, but slap another sticker on the case of a completely different key. Both keys will still preactivate.
    And again, this can't be a special key from MS, because preactivation doesn't contact MS, so they can't check if a key is "special" to begin with.

    Obviously I may be wrong on some points, because I've yet to find documentation on exactly how OEMs preactive. Besides the generic answer of "checking for special text in the bios" or something like that. That doesn't help. I don't even think it is specific text in the BIOS, only that what it is, matches what the CD is looking for.

    Anyways, I haven't given up, there is a lot of good WPA info in this thread. Thanks everybody.
  14. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    you don't have to be so testy. your reply was condescending and insulting. we're all learning here from each other. i like this thread, because i've been trying since last september to find how pre-activation, activation, and the key construction works, just like you guys.
    M$ and windows is a racket. everybody wish they had a comparable competition. well, they don't. i'm hoping something good will come out of this.
  15. cozofdeath

    cozofdeath TS Rookie Posts: 19

    same here.
  16. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    My sincere apologies. I didn't think my original reply to you was like that. It wasn't intended to be. It was just rushed to be honest. I agree with your sentiments about the thread and hope that we can leave this little spat in the past where it belongs.
  17. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    no problem spike. all is good. i hope something good can come out of this thread. i'm still at it.
  18. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    I have a new, similar question now. Which I'm researching and possibly will try myself. But does anybody know if an unattended answer file can be used on a REPAIR install of Windows?
    At first it seems like it should. But because the answer file contains info about partitioning, it isn't clear. So before I destroy any data, I wonder if I can (because I HAVE to) use an answer file on a repair install.

    Think of it this way: I need to repair install, so no data loss. But I have NO keyboard and mouse control until it is in Windows itself.
    This question is linked to my other thread about having no keyboard. But it is still valid for this conversation.

    Does anybody know for sure?
  19. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    I'm not sure what you are asking here vigilante. Are you asking whether you can use an unattended disk to run a repaiar on an existing install?

    Id so, As far as I'm aware the disk won't give you the option to repair anyway. If you know any differently, PLEASE let me know! It would be very useful knowledge to me. As for partitioning on an unattended install, you can work around this simply by editing winnt.sif in the i386 folder.

    Change/add the value in the [data] section to AutoPartition=0, and setup will give you control over the partitioning and formatting options during text-mode setup. The only other thing I know about repairing windows from an unattended disk is that pressing F10 when it asks you to "press F6 if you need to install a SCSI or RAID controller" will boot the CD straight into the recovery console.
  20. cozofdeath

    cozofdeath TS Rookie Posts: 19

    Vigilante, are you using the key you found with the jellybean keyfinder or on the side of the pc for your answer file activation? Or have you tried both?
  21. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    If there is ever a sticker, I use that key. But once in a while a customer doesn't have their key, or it was on the packaging which they threw away. But I'll use Jellybean when I have to. This particular machine needed the Jellybean key. However, setup only got as far as needing to type it in, but I couldn't type.

    In this particular case, I wanted to do a repair install of XP, just a regular repair. However, I still wanted the answer file so that I wouldn't have to type in the name and location and timezone etc... I wasn't sure if you can do a repair install with an answer file. Regardless, the system could still not get far enough to START setup. So I'm currently diagnosing other issues.

    I created the answer file just fine, using the AutoPartition=0, I understand that part. However it didn't work because on this particular PC, it still did not let me have keyboard control, so I couldn't even CHOOSE a partition to load on in the first place!
    And I'd be scared to set autopartition because then setup may go through as normal without being a repair install.
    Anyway, doesn't matter because there is something really wrong with that PC, I think the PS/2 really is going bad, even though the keyboard will still work in certain DOS based functions.

    Nevertheless, I stumbled upon some more info pertinent to this thread.

    Do you want to make an OS CD of your OWN, that autoactivates? You can do that using your existing OS if it has already been activated.

    Most people know that your activation info is stored in a file called "wpa.dbl" in the system32 directory. Well as I found out, all you have to do is take this file and put it on your CD in the $OEM$\$$\system32 folder. Then when this CD is used to install Windows, the activation file is used and then you won't have to activate!

    I haven't tested this yet to see if it works. And also, there might be an issue using the $OEM$ folder, there is a couple entries in the winnt.sif answer file you may have to set to make the install even USE the $OEM$ folder. But if not, or even if so, then doing this simple thing should let you avoid activation on whatever PC you make this for. Great for those of you who reload a lot for whatever reason, and don't like activating all the time. Not sure how this would be affected if you change a piece of hardware.

    [P.S. I found more info too, there is such a thing as a "Royalty OEM". These OEMs are the ones who have their name printed on the COA sticker with the keycode. Dell and Hewlett Packard come to mind. These companies are the ones who are allowed to do the OEMBIOS preactivation method. So apparently only those Royalty OEM licenses are allowed to autoactivate this way?
    I've got another technique similar to what I tried earlier in this thread, but slightly different. I'll let you guys know when I've attempted it. Using the OEMBIOS method.]
  22. cozofdeath

    cozofdeath TS Rookie Posts: 19

    The reason I asked you about what key you are using is because I've read that using the key on the side of the pc will not for preactivation anymore and that using the manufacturing key will.

    Are you sure the wpa.dbl methode will work for the OEM versions. I was going to try that method but I noticed the file was not used on my OEM version of windows. Well it was there, but only around 2k in size. It's supposed to be something like 2K in its non-activated state and 12 or 13k when its activated.

    Vigilante, could you give more info about extracting the oembios files off the OEM cds and is the $OEM$ directory hidden in someway or do some manufactures just not include it?
  23. cozofdeath

    cozofdeath TS Rookie Posts: 19

    This may be common knowledge, but I thought it was interesting and maybe it could help someone out. I was using a program called DMIScope to look at some of my bios and I wanted to lookup my bios version number. I couldn't find anything on google or intel, since its a intel mb and bios. This is because the version number is the string oems use for their identification. The mb info like(Manufacturer, Product id, Version, and Serial#) remain the same. Thats why you could change the motherboard as long as you keep the same bios.

    An intel shiped mb's bios version number would look like this

    This is mine after the oem change
    AG91510J.15A.0579.2004.1008.1003 - Date 10/8/2004

    AG91510J - product family identifier(AG=product id, 915=chipset id, 1=product version increment, board product version, J=core indicator)
    15 - BIOS OEM ID number
    A - denotes the typeof motherboard(A=Consumer Desktop, B=Corporate Desktop, C=Server Products)
    0579 - the BIOS build number
    2004 - the year of build or modification by the OEM
    1008 - the month and day(Oct. 8th) of build or modification by the OEM
    1003 - the time of day(10:03) of the build or modification by the OEM

    Intel even has a download of the software oems use to do all kinds of things to the bios. They also say it can be used for hiding/locking sensitive settings in the bios. When you try to download it a popup says, "Any other use may limit or void your Intel® Desktop Board warranty. You accept all responsibility for any misuse of ITK." Since intel does not support oem mbs does it really matter?
  24. CrossFire851

    CrossFire851 TS Rookie Posts: 766

    :cool: I hope it helps im ace just to tell ya.
  25. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    First let me point you to a web site which has all the unattended install info you could want, an excellent read!

    The specific page of autoactivation is:

    I've zipped up a couple scripts to help with winnt.sif and the OEMBIOS files. Download and extract this, and read the readme.

    I highly suggest reading through that web site, it will bring new spark to wanting to create your own setup disk. Which has SP2 slipstreamed, and all new patches automatically inserted, answer file, and possibly autoactivation. That would be cool!

    Good info there, I had found another utility online which supposedly lets you edit the OEM string in the BIOS, but I haven't the courage to try such a thing.
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