Windows XP reactivation on a new hard disk (same computer)

I have bought a new hard drive for my computer.

I am wondering if I can re-install my copy of windows xp (from a recovery disk) onto it and re-activate it without any licence issues.

I believe that WPA (Windows Product Activation) checks certain hardware against it’s records to see if it has been run on the same computer that it was on the previous time it checked. Where are these records? If they are on my hard disk then obviously it can’t check against them from a new hard disk.

The records are with Microsoft. IIRC, the authentication process looks at more than just the drive, so when it phones home, it’ll see that you didn’t change the motherboard or video card, and it should come back up with no problems.

The hard drive serial number is one of the items included in the hardware hash that identifies the computer upon which it is installed, but you’re allowed to swap out components at a reasonable rate (defined as a certain number of them every x months, I think).

I have replaced the hard drives and reinstalled XP in a number of disk-image-based installations in the past and it never causes a problem; activation is necessary as usual, but it should be able to happen automatically using the internet.
What you can’t do (or rather, what MS tries to prevent) is install an OEM release of Windows on an entirely new computer (so you couldn’t take the license key for a Dell and use it to install Windows on a new, baremetal machine - because the OEM version of windows was volume-priced to be supplied only for use on the Dell hardware)…

…although I have done essentially this on a machine in the past; it was an OEM machine and it got damaged by water - I had to replace the motherboard (including onboard stuff like Network card), processor and RAM, but I also replaced the hard drive at the same time. the PSU and case were the same, but of course those are not part of the hardware hash.

It wouldn’t activate and I phoned MS, who said “A-HA! you’re trying to install the same software on more than one machine”. I said “Look, this is an OEM machine that was flood damaged and I have replaced the motherboard, processor and hard drive”. They let me activate it, but I expect if I’d tried again with the same key on different hardware the next week, they might refuse.

I did something very similar to this. When I built my current computer, I just took the hard drive out of my old Dell and stuck in the new machine. I had to call Microsoft, but I told them I was upgrading my system and they gave me a new activation code.

This site has the answers you’re looking for.