Ahh, Microsoft activation. So limited in it's approach due to their determination to catch pirates at the expense of genuine customers user experience!
I've got a friends laptop, 6 years old, no original discs. Windows XP Home. The installation was absolutely screwed with viruses/spyware etc and half the MS Services had become damaged. There is a genuine CoA on the bottom with a Product Key but due to being a Compaq the installed Product key was their volume install key I guess. I made a note of that and the CoA key too.
As mentioned, no original media, so I did a repair install off a Genuine XP Home SP3 OEM disc I had from previous system build of my own. Note: a repair install, I haven't even done a fresh install. For some reason after a repair install Microsoft wants you to activate again, unfortunately I forgot about this before the repair and didn't do the WPA.DBL trick. Now, predictable, MS Activation "wizard" tells me the product key is wrong (I used the previously used one first, and have since updated it to the CoA one) and the telephone automated system does bugger all to help.
The person on the end of the phone line was absolutely useless, robotic in her approach and typically unhelpful stating "you must use the original recovery cd in order for the CD key to work" etc etc.
Why do they make it so hard for genuine users to repair the OS? The only reason it had to be repaired was because the OS wasn't secure enough in the first place... and now we're left with a system which wont work. To top it all off, the system was purchased in N.Z and now we're in the UK... so getting a replacement disc from Compaq (since brought by HP) to the UK within 30 days is unlikely.
So my question... is there a way (a registry hack of some sort I guess) to stop it bloody well telling us this needs activating? It was activated before but because of the repair they want it a ruddy again, I must stress we DO have a genuine key, yet MS's stupid limited narrow minded **** approach means the genuine key we have does not bloody work!!! Unbelievable!
I had the same problem with a Gateway computer. I finally found a Gateway Windows XP CD, slipstreamed SP3 into it and used it to do a Repair installation with NO activation. This was after spending hours on the phone with MS. You can purchase HP/Compaq Recovery disks from http://www.computersurgeons.com/.
The CoA's on the underside of these large manufacturer laptops are almost always OEM keys, so an OEM disc will work on fresh install, however on repair the original installation uses a VL key instead so it conflicts.
The no-activation advice I found for repair installs looks good though and i'll be trying it in future!