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Any limitations to a non-activated pro install?

Last response: in Windows XP
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December 12, 2009 7:17:40 PM

I'm working with other members of an after school ACM club to install XP Pro on a particularly troublesome laptop. The installation went fine, but once we were finished we got a message saying we had ?30? days to activate. As it turned out, we could not activate over the internet because neither the ethernet or wireless drivers installed. We were able to install the wireless drivers (obtained from dell's website) and the hardware shows as an adapter under device manager, but no networks are detected (several networks show up with good connectivity on another unit). We tried installing drivers from Dell's site for the ethernet adapter as well, but we got a message saying something to the extent of the installer service could not be started. So we used 7zip to extract the WinXP folder from the exe and pointed the update driver tool under device manger at the extracted folder and installed drivers manually. The device was now showing up under adapters in device manager. However, when we plugged it into our network it just continuously tries to acquire an ip. It browses the web fine while running on a linux live install, so hardware is not the issue. As you can see, we are in a catch-22 situation. We can't activate windows without internet connectivity, but we can't get internet connectivity, presumably because we are not activated. This is where my question comes in. Besides the 30 day time limit, are there any other limits imposed on a un-activated XP Pro install? Particularly, is our un-activated status what is causing our lack of installer support and our inability to get network connectivity, or is this another issue entirely? If activation would solve our issues, we could do it by phone or bring in a usb wireless adapter, but it would be best to know ahead of time if this would solve our issues. Thanks!

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December 13, 2009 10:37:18 PM

There shouldn't be any network related restrictions to an unactivated XP Pro. I setup and installed PCs without activations for various clients and found the only thing I couldn't do is Windows Update without a proper activation (due to Windows Genuine Advantage check)

Usually with wireless networks, if you do not put in the proper WEP or WPA keys for secured networks, it will sit there acquiring address or shows limited connectivity. I'd make sure you got the wireless password/key correct. If you are sure the key is correct or if you are using an unprotected wireless network, try configuring the wireless adapter with a static IP address to test your connectivity. Use the IP configurations from your network of course :) 

As for the activation, you could always use the phone option. It is quiet easy and straight forward. I've done it countless times.
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December 14, 2009 2:07:33 AM

^ +1
You should be able to connect to your network even if you haven't activated your OS.

I assume you are connecting wireless to a LAN?

If you're connecting to a router, you need to have the router's software installed.
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December 14, 2009 4:45:42 AM

Routers should need any extra software... you should just able able to "plug and play".
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December 14, 2009 6:30:53 PM

Thanks for the replies guys! To clarify about the network, as I said above, this is an after school club. Our school has a few unencrypted wireless networks which are accessible in the area by another pc as well as a few encrypted which are detected. The laptop in question does not detect any wireless networks. Using the driver we installed for the ethernet adapter we have attempted to connect to the schools wired lan. We have done this successfully in the past but this laptop just continuously tries to acquire a network address. The laptop was able to browse the web just fine using a live linux usb. Judging from what you guys are saying, it seems the un-activated status of our xp install would not have caused the network issues and the issue of the installer service not starting. I have a feeling something went wrong with the install itself and it would be best just to start over. Would you guys concur with that? Also, everything seemed to have gone normally during the install, so is there anything I should do to prevent this from happening again? I appreciate the continued help of this site.
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December 14, 2009 7:11:53 PM

Have you made sure all your windows services are running (DHCP, TCP/IP, wireless service..etc)?

Check the device manager to make sure your wireless adapter is recognized and that there are no conflicts.

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December 14, 2009 8:00:17 PM

aford10, everything shows up as installed and working properly in device manager. Have not checked services yet but will do so when the club meets again on Friday. Thanks for the tip!
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December 15, 2009 1:03:09 AM

Good luck.
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December 15, 2009 1:57:59 AM

Also could try starting the installer service manually to see if it returns any errors. I've had that service and related files corrupt on a new install before. It was quiet a while ago, so I don't quiet remember the fix. But I might've updated Windows installer to 3.1.

You could also try fixing the installer issue by starting with the version 3.1 of the installer or check this - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/319624

As you mentioned, since the hardware worked fined with a linux boot, it is most likely software/driver related.

Cheers.
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