Reinstalling Windows
July 20, 2007 12:06 AM   Subscribe

My many Windows errors are starting to grate on my nerves. I'd like to do a reinstall - but the recovery cd that came with my Toshiba laptop refuses to play nice (probably due to SP2 or the new motherboard). How do I reinstall an OEM version of Windows XP, without losing my key? Is it even possible to reinstall an OEM XP setup? Where do I even get an OEM version to reinstall from? Aargh!!!! More inside.

For what it's worth, it's a Toshiba Satellite M35X-S149 laptop, with what is probably an OEM version of XP.

The reinstall cd won't work because it's tied to the system I first started out with. The current system has two new things: SP2, and a new motherboard. But if OEM XP's are tied to their motherboards - wouldn't my new motherboard have halted XP from even loading up?

Installing a cracked version of XP is a possibility, but I'd rather not deal with possible malware. And if I already have an authenticated version of XP, I'd rather stay with that.

Unfortunately, installing Vista is not an option, as my laptop is officially unable to run Vista, due to not being ACPI compliant. Neither is Linux (I'm too spoiled for Windows accessibility), or Macs (too broke).

Calling Toshiba support is out too - apparently they're unhelpful, and my laptop was bought about four years ago anyway.

Any tips and pointers would be greatly appreciated!
posted by Xere to Education (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Put basically, I think you're f***ed. The OEM disc you have is tied to your old hardware. IIRC they tie in to BIOS ID strings.

Somebody might have a way around this but I've not heard of it. They have a way of getting around Vista's OEM protection by creating a false BIOS device driver but I don't think that was ever applied to XP, because there were simpler ways of getting around the WGA protection.

You've got two choices:

1) Either work your way through Microsoft's technical support lines, and I think that will take many hours and might not work.

2) Download a dodgy copy and use that. I think you're fully justified. You've already paid for the software and have a legal license. If you download from a torrent network, you should be OK -- it's a safety-in-numbers approach to malware prevention. Any infected XP disc won't be distributed any longer.

If you're worried about malware, download antivirus/spyware software and scan the system after installation. Install a good firewall.
posted by humblepigeon at 1:29 AM on July 20, 2007

paulsc nailed it.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 2:50 AM on July 20, 2007

Assuming you have the original CD key you could obtain another OEM copy of XP and reinstall that way. It has worked for me in the past.
posted by sophist at 4:19 AM on July 20, 2007

You can retrieve your windows key with this.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:55 AM on July 20, 2007

If you put in a new mobo on a laptop, it's almost certainly the same model mobo that was originally in place. SP2 has nothing to do with this. Is there a windows license sticker on the bottom of the laptop with your key info?

In my experience the OEM install will NOT prompt you for a key, when installed on the correct MAKE (not necessarily model) of computer.

Have you formatted the laptop's drive prior to re-installing windows? Have you run a diagnostic on the HDD itself to determine if it is the cause of the errors and also of the failed install?

And most importantly, what exactly happens when you try to boot to the WINXP install CD? I am not sure you are even booting to the CD for the install - please verify exactly what steps you are taking to start the process.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 9:50 AM on July 20, 2007

I'll second BigLankyBastard. Even if windows detects a different BIOS serial and sets off the windows activation protection all you have to do is call Microsoft and there's a 99% chance they'll activate your windows.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:53 AM on July 20, 2007

Quick note before I run off for the day: the recovery CD claims that it's being inserted into the wrong computer.

Will be back later today to try out suggested methods.
posted by Xere at 10:11 AM on July 20, 2007

Yeah, you're probably F'ked trying to use that CD. You'll either have to buy a new copy of XP home from a vendor, with a new licence key, or acquire a new computer.

You might be able to borrow someone else's generic XP home install CD if your laptop has the license sticker on the bottom. Every legitimate major-manufacturer brand PC and laptop I have ever seen in the past four years has this sticker somewhere on it. If XP was in fact the OEM, there SHOULD be a license sticker on the computer with the license key.

Absent that key, you'll have to get a new XP disk and key, perhaps from here.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 10:22 AM on July 20, 2007

Upgrade to Ubuntu?
posted by thilmony at 12:29 PM on July 20, 2007

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