Windows XP downgrade without Product Key

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Windows XP downgrade without Product Key

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Hi,

I recently got a new Dell Vostro 1310 with a downgrade to Windows XP Pro 3. I wanted to reinstall Windows to make a couple of partitions.

I've got 2 problems with that.

1. There is no product key on the CD. It says the product key is on the laptop itself, but there is only the windows vista key.

2. I started the installation anyway and got to the part where it shows the different partitions. there was only the C partitions (and one other one, but that was tiny) and i couldnt delete it because it said there were some necessary temporary files on it, which are needed for the installation. So i left it with one partition and then it said that it is no good idea to install windows when there is already a operating system on the disk.

How do I reinstall Windows XP?

Verified Answer
  • @JackShack: Thanks again for the thorough explanation. I'm happy to say that I was able to explain the situation to Microsoft phone activation and they transferred me to the "Product Key Team." Here are the details, in case this helps another user in a similar situation...

    1. Booted up my XP Pro VM installation, and selected the Telephone activation option for the XP activation.
    2. I spoke a long activation code as prompted; it was "invalid" but I could go on to speak to a representative to explain further.
    3. Here it's important to explain exactly what you're doing to the rep -- I explained that I simply want to activate this one XP license, on the Dell laptop with which it was purchased, but I'm doing so in a virtual machine. They can quickly confirm why it's not working, due to not seeing the real BIOS as JackShack explains above.
    4. MS suggested that Dell should handle this; I explained that I've already spoken to Dell support and they're unable to issue a different product key and said I needed to contact Microsoft; I was then transferred to the Product Key Team (the first time, I just got stuck in an automated support call and couldn't talk to anyone without paying; second time, I explained this and ensured that I would be transferred *directly* to the Product Key Team).
    5. Once conntected with the Product Key Team, they already knew my situation and fairly quickly provided me with a new product key (after confirming that I was installing XP on the laptop that it came with and installing just one instance, which is exactly what I've done); there are a couple more steps -- after entering the new product key, I then gave the new activation code to the rep who then gave me a new confirmation to enter in the activation screen I had up; it was finally a success!

    In a nutshell, it took me numerous calls to Microsoft and one to Dell, but ultimately, once I understood the problem and conveyed this to Microsoft, they got the job done for me. So, kudos to the MS product key team.

    Thanks again for feedback here folks!

    Jamie

All Replies
  • You are doing it the right way. If your system came a downgrade disk  the product key on the vista stick will work. You must do a clean install to down grade. Which means you should format the partition and then do  the install, what the system is telling you is you just cannot downgrade to a lower os with a newer one installed.

    So format the C partition, and install the OS. now some things will be different. Hopefully the SATA drivers will be on the XP disk so they will load automaticly. If not you will need to go to the Drivers and download page and obtain the drivers. And since you do not have a floppy dirve you will  mor thna likely have to slistream them into the install disk it as I say this is a Dell disk you will proably not need to do this.

    There is one other really important thing that you will need to do and that is to reload your drivers in a particular order. Look at this PAGE for the reloading order. This step is very important

    I would suggest that before you install you visit the drivers page and download all the drivers and software that you will need onto a CD

     HomeBuilt SandyBridge P8P67 i7 2600k @ 4.5 ghz 8gigs GSkill Ripjaws. Corsair 800D Case and AX1200 Ps X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty pro PCIe Sound Card
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    Forum member since 2003

  • I'm in a similar situation, but the Vista key on my laptop sticker does not work for my XP install. I have a Dell Vostro 1510, which included an OS purchase of "Genuine Windows Vista Business Bonus-Windows XP Professional downgrade" and I received CDs for both Vista and XP. I've installed XP in a virtual machine (VM), but I don't see why that should have any impact on product key working or not??? I'm running Ubuntu 8.04 (Linux) as my host operating system, VirtualBox as my hypervisor, and XP Pro in a VM. It installed and runs fine, but I'm down to 17 days to properly license it and the Vista product key just does not work. Thoughts?

    Thanks!
    Jamie

  • If they sent you an XP SLP CD Disk then the license key is in the i386 folder on the CD in a file named WINNT.SIF. Did it ask for a CD key when you were installing the OS? If the answer is no then you should be able to locate the key as above^. It will not activate as it cannot see the BIOS String of the real machine and is only seeing the Virtual BIOS which doesn't have the SLP String to activate.

     

    pcgeek11

  • Edit:  Deleted by poster due to providing duplicate info

    Dell Forum member since 2005

  • Thanks, pcgeek11 (and JackShack). I did find the winnt.sif file with the key, but that one doesn't work either. I'm assuming this is due to the VM seeing the virtual BIOS and not the actual BIOS. Does this mean I'm simply out of options? The Windows license I purchased with my Dell laptop simply cannot be installed as a VM, but only as a native installation? I can't find any language in the licensing that says this is not allowed, yet there is no way to actually accomplish it?

    Thank you again for your help, and the quick reply!

  • Sometimes the things that are supposed to prevent usage that is not compliant with the license agreement get in the way of things we would like to do.  The OEM Dell installation CDs depend on the SLP code in the Dell BIOS for activation.  If the  installation program can't see the real bios, it can't activate.  With a commercially purchased installation CD this is not a problem as you have a COA that can be activated on line or by phone.  OEM installation CDs cannot be activated on line, and since Dell is responsible for support of an OEM disk that was issued by Dell, Microsoft will not normally give you an activation key if you call them.  You can try the phone method, of course, since so far as I can tell you are running only Windows XP Pro rather than both Vista and Windows XP.  Once you explain what you are doing they might grant you an activation code.

    The key you find in the winnt.sif file is the equivalent of a product code or COA.  It is not the activation key itself.  If you use the phone method to succesfully get a key from Microsoft, you will receive about six 5 character groups that must be entered precisely to achieve activation.

    Dell Forum member since 2005

  • @JackShack: Thanks again for the thorough explanation. I'm happy to say that I was able to explain the situation to Microsoft phone activation and they transferred me to the "Product Key Team." Here are the details, in case this helps another user in a similar situation...

    1. Booted up my XP Pro VM installation, and selected the Telephone activation option for the XP activation.
    2. I spoke a long activation code as prompted; it was "invalid" but I could go on to speak to a representative to explain further.
    3. Here it's important to explain exactly what you're doing to the rep -- I explained that I simply want to activate this one XP license, on the Dell laptop with which it was purchased, but I'm doing so in a virtual machine. They can quickly confirm why it's not working, due to not seeing the real BIOS as JackShack explains above.
    4. MS suggested that Dell should handle this; I explained that I've already spoken to Dell support and they're unable to issue a different product key and said I needed to contact Microsoft; I was then transferred to the Product Key Team (the first time, I just got stuck in an automated support call and couldn't talk to anyone without paying; second time, I explained this and ensured that I would be transferred *directly* to the Product Key Team).
    5. Once conntected with the Product Key Team, they already knew my situation and fairly quickly provided me with a new product key (after confirming that I was installing XP on the laptop that it came with and installing just one instance, which is exactly what I've done); there are a couple more steps -- after entering the new product key, I then gave the new activation code to the rep who then gave me a new confirmation to enter in the activation screen I had up; it was finally a success!

    In a nutshell, it took me numerous calls to Microsoft and one to Dell, but ultimately, once I understood the problem and conveyed this to Microsoft, they got the job done for me. So, kudos to the MS product key team.

    Thanks again for feedback here folks!

    Jamie

  • That is great news, and thanks for the feedback.  We are learning too and your feedback helps us check the accuracy of the help we provide.

    Best Wishes and Seasons Greetings to you!

    Dell Forum member since 2005

  • Jamie, I've marked your post as a Verified Solution.  Hopefully this will help others that are in a similar situation. 

    You can request replacement reinstallation media for US purchased systems here.
    Dell Drivers & Downloads for all systems.