Damn Windows activation!!!

So, I have two legal copies of XP Home. One is an “upgrade,” and the other is the one that came with my dell laptop.

I go to install the “upgrade” one on my computer from which I took a HD and added a bigger one. It asks me for a full copy of windows, since that disc is just an upgrade, so I feed the monster with my other disc. Note that the computer that I’m working on used to have windows on it.

During this process, it never asks me for the 25 digit product key. Weird.

So everything goes OK, until I go to register. It now asks me for the key, and I feed it the key from the “upgrade” disc, and it doesn’t like it. I give it the one from the other one, and it doesn’t like it, so I call the 888 number and talk to a recorded lady. (Talk here is literal, it was one of those terrible ones where you say things to a recording.)

She tells me that my copy of Windows isn’t valid for activation… THEN HANGS UP ON ME. (Thank goodness that I’m gay, or I’d be hurt that I was getting rejected by a recording of a woman!)

Is there some way to talk to a real person about this?

What happens if you call the # and don’t enter anything at the prompts?

Let’s find out…

I got hung up on twice after the recording said something along the lines of “OK, whatever, I’ll “transfer” you ::snicker::”

You won’t be able to isntall Windows with either of those CD keys. The upgrade disc is just that, an upgrade, so as you noticed it will not install if there is not a prior version of Windows in that HD. The other CD is an OEM copy of XP, and is only designed to be installed onto a specific type of computer, in this case the Dell laptop.

The only way out of this mess is to buy a new copy of XP, or, if the old hard drive that had XP on it before is still working, ghost it to the new one. Although I find it odd you couldn’t get a real human to talk to, because a couple of times I have had to call their product activation service and got a real person. It tried to register my key online and said it was already registered, because I was installing it after reformatting my harddrive. I explained that to the person on the phone, and she allowed it to be registered. If you can somehow get a real person and explain it that way, she might allow it to be registered, but I think not, since you installed an OEM copy and are trying to use the upgrade CD key (which, granted, is still valid for you and you are allowed to install on a new HD in the same PC, but that copy of windows will refuse to recognize that CD key, and as you said, you can’t install the upgrade version on a blank HD.)

Yes you can. I just did. You have to have the disc for a previous version of Windows so it at least knows that you have upgrade rights, but the upgrade disc will install a completely clean version of XP on a completely clean hard drive.

The gethuman database gives a Microsoft 800 number (under “US software”) that you should be able to call and press 0 to get a live person. I haven’t tried it myself for Microsoft, but I’ve usually found the numbers given on that site to be reliable.

Well, the end of this story: I tried calling that number given upthread, and it said that it was a toll service, so I retried the previous number, and just mashed zero for a while, and the lady gave me a customer service rep. I explained things to the nice person, and they gave me a long code of digits, and I was done! :smiley:

What Eutychus says. The ‘Upgrade’ CD is cheaper because you’re expected to be using it to upgrade an operating system you’ve already payed Microsoft for. When the installer asks for a full OS disk, it just wants to verify this, whether it be with a Win98, ME or 2k CD. (See this page). The result will still be a full, clean installed XP OS.

By trying to use an XP CD you’d just installed and were using, it appears to MS that you’re trying to get 2 OSs for the price of 1.5, which is why they weren’t willing to help you.

Exactly. You can upgrade to WinXP using just about any OS from Win98 on (my family has everything in the old DOS-based OSes from Windows 3.0 to WinME, and I’ve used all of the later ones to reinstall my copy of XP Pro, depending on what I had handy or could easily find) but you’ve got to have that older copy. Luckily, it’s incredibly cheap to get an old Windows OS so you can buy the upgrade and and get an old copy of Win98SE and still save probably at least 40% compared to the price of a non-upgrade version. And actually, Win98SE isn’t a bad OS once you get all the patches installed. I keep it around for dual-booting for legacy game support (mostly for using MyJemm to play Wing Commander Privateer.)

I seem to reinstall WinXP every six months or so. I always wipe the partition I keep the OS on first and then use my upgrade copy of XP to get a nice clean install and all I have to do is stick my Win98SE disk (which is actually also an upgrade version, so to install and dual-boot THAT I have a copy of Windows 95 too–though I did it once from Windows 3.11 just for the heck of it) or my WinME disk in the drive for a minute or so. I’ve done this so often I actually sent away for the free SP2 CD (my copy only included SP1) to cut down on the amount of patch downloading I have to do.