Upgrade? Downgrade? I just want it to work.
February 1, 2007 11:23 AM   Subscribe

How do I solve this Windows installation problem? It's not a software or hardware problem exactly, more like a logistics problem. Anyway, there's....

So I have a computer with a dead hard drive. I've got a replacement installed, went to install Win XP using the full version disk that I bought a couple of years ago through pricewatch. The problem is that, after moving, I can't find the authentication code. I have an old Win2000 upgrade disk, but no other full version except the XP disk. Here are some possible complications:

1. The XP disk appears to be an OEM that was to be included with a new computer, although it's not brand specific.

2. The 2000 disk is upgrade only.

3. I have no idea what to put on a boot disk so that I can format the drive and snuff the incomplete Win XP installation.

4. Retrieving the authorization code from the old hard drive is not an option because, as far as i can tell, it is fried.

So what's the solution? I'd really rather not shell out another $80-100 for another Windows disk if at all possible. I don't really care whether I have 2000 or XP.
posted by electroboy to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
Call Microsoft and tell them. Really.

I lost my Office code, and told them the story, and got a new one, and have heard of people getting new keys for all sorts of products. I can't find the it right now, but if you look around on microsoft.com you should be able to find the 800 number for licesning issues.
posted by niles at 11:49 AM on February 1, 2007

Echoing niles. I can obtain a new key about 1/3 of the time when these issues arise. Some workers are more willing to shell out a new key than others.
posted by jmd82 at 12:15 PM on February 1, 2007

If everything had been done according to the Official Rules For These Things, the Windows Product Key (which is what I'm assuming you mean by the authorization code) would be listed on the Certificate of Authenticity stuck to the computer case.

If you bought a genuine XP OEM installer disc before Microsoft tightened up the rules, there would have been a CoA stuck to the shrinkwrap. If your copy didn't come with one, you've been screwed by your software vendor.

If you do manage to wheedle a new Product Key out of Microsoft, you shouldn't need to snuff the partial install; if you put the Windows Setup CD in the machine and boot from the hard disk, Setup should resume at the point where it asks you for the product key, and you just type it in. You may need to talk to Microsoft again to get it to activate.

If you can't get a key from Microsoft, you have three options:

A. Swear at Microsoft for making you jump through these insane hoops, see the light, switch to a legitimate free OS and escape vendor lock-in forever. I recommend Ubuntu - comes on one CD that has everything on it that you need to make a machine immediately productive, and much easier to install than Windows on most machines.

B: Pay Microsoft for a retail version of their OS, and use that instead of your part-completed OEM installation (early on in the setup process, you get the option to wipe out existing partitions and start over) and remember to put the sticker on the case this time.

C: Use your BitTorrent- or Gnutella-fu to download a pirate copy of Windows XP Corporate and the Blue List key generator, and jump onto the removing-malware-from-warez and keeping-one-step-ahead-of-Microsoft's-anti-piracy-measures treadmills. World of hassle. Will cost you far more in time than the price of Windows is worth in money.

Best of luck!
posted by flabdablet at 1:50 PM on February 1, 2007

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