I really hope I can get a clear answer to this question. I think I've asked in other forums, but nobody seemed to know. I custom build PC's and lately I "acquired" some XP Pro CD's with accompanying COA's (stickers) from another fellow in the PC support business. He claims these were pulled off of old Dells, HP's, etc. before the computers were to be thrown away or moved to a corporate XP license. I am paying for these keys and CD's, but here is the "problem" which I've noticed long before I bought these particular XP licenses.
Dell factory XP re-installation CD's seem to require no activation OR license key entry. Now, for years I thought this was because of some rumor that the product key was stored on the accompanying computer bios or something crazy like that. However, I am noticing for the first time that these CD's do not require key entry or activation no matter what PC you install them on. I'm about to try to check for the key using something like jellybean, but I'm not sure that's going to answer my question. To keep it legal, I have been sticking whatever COA I got with the CD's onto the machine chassis, but I fear the actual key that is in the Windows registry does not match what I am sticking on the computer. Can anyone shed any light on this? Thanks much in advanmnce
OK, as an update I think I JUST got closer to the facts. I just installed on a new custom build with one of the Dell CD's. After several reboots the activation flag finally came up. It would not activate over the net, but when I put in the key from the COA I have it activated fine.
What's confusing is that I installed using one of these Dell CD's on an older Dell server that came pre-installed with Windows Server 2000. Somehow it never asked for the corresponding XP Pro key for the OS I was installing. Strange.
I have noticed that myself, if you use a dell oem on dell machines or Fujitsu Siemens oem on a FS machine, you don't need to enter the 25 digit code or need to activate online, but install the disc in anything other than its ment to be in and you have to insert the code and actavate online.
I don't know how this is done, must be some code in the bios that indicates the make of machine, that matches the code on the oem disc.
It purely a BIOS thing. From my own extensive testing, pretty much all Dells after the year 2000 will except an OEM Dell Windows XP CD, reguardless of the OS the Dell computer originally came with. No activation flag will come up, at no time will you need to enter a key code (and most importantly, Microsoft recognizes it as a vaild XP install). This even works when going from a new dell model and installing with old Dell XP OS CD (e.g. I put windows XP sans service packs on my 2005 model Dell inspiron laptop originally equipped w/SP2, using an early XP CD from a Dell Dimension 4500 circa 2002). I have had at one time 3 totally different dell computers all using the same Dell XP CD, and thus the same XP WPA key, with absolutely no issues with updates from Microsoft.
Dell machines older than this millennium are another story...