DetailPage-MSS-KB

Microsoft small business knowledge base

Article ID: 307890 - Last Review: May 22, 2013 - Revision: 8.0

This article was previously published under Q307890

On This Page

INTRODUCTION

Windows XP uses software-based product activation technology. Therefore, you must activate your copy of Windows XP to use it. This article describes how to activate Windows XP.

How activation works

Product activation reduces a form of software piracy that is known as "casual copying". Casual copying is the sharing and installation of software that is not in accordance with the software's end-use license agreement (EULA).

Product activation makes sure that each Windows XP license is installed in accordance with the EULA and is not installed on more than the number of computers that the license permits. Windows creates a unique installation identification (ID) that is based on information from the product ID and a hardware identifier that are created when you install Window XP. To activate, use the Windows Product Activation wizard to provide the installation ID to Microsoft over the Internet or your phone line. The installation ID records an association of the product ID to your computer and a confirmation ID is sent back to your computer to activate Windows XP.

Activation is anonymous, and no personal information is required to activate. The installation ID records an association of the product ID to your computer and a confirmation is sent back to Microsoft. You can then use the product key to install Windows on that computer an unlimited number of times. However, if you want to install Windows on a different computer with that product key, you may have to contact a Microsoft customer service representative.

Activation is required in 30 days from the first day that you start Windows XP. If you want to activate Windows on a day that is later than the day that you install it, a Windows Activation icon appears in the notification area. This icon periodically displays notifications to remind you about how much time remains before you must activate. After the 30 days has expired, you must activate Windows to continue using Windows.

During activation, you can also register your copy of Windows. Product activation is different from product registration because activation is required and registration is optional. If you want to register Windows XP by providing your name, e-mail address, and other contact information, you can also choose to receive information about product updates and other special offers.

Note Some original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and select installations of Windows XP that use a volume license agreement are pre-activated and require no additional steps to activate. To check your activation status, click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Activate Windows.

Activation methods

You can activate your copy of Windows XP by using any one of the following methods:
  • Activate Windows XP by using the Internet

    If you use this method, the Windows Product Activation wizard establishes a connection to the activation server, sends your installation ID, and then processes the activation request.
  • Activate Windows XP by using your modem

    If you have a modem but you do not have an Internet connection, the wizard detects your modem and establishes a connection to the activation server through your phone line.
  • Activate Windows XP by phone

    If you do not have a modem or an Internet connection, you can activate Windows XP by calling a Microsoft customer service representative. The Activation Wizard displays the toll free number that you can dial.

Video: How to activate Windows on your computer

Collapse this imageExpand this image
uuid=e42db73d-f794-4d5c-a626-0dd7da610ea1 VideoUrl=http://aka.ms/nlmzbv (http://aka.ms/nlmzbv)
Collapse this imageExpand this image


The following sections in this article describe how to use each of these methods.

by using the Internet

To activate Windows XP by using an Internet connection, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Activate Windows.

    Or, click the Windows Activation icon in the notification area.
  2. Click Yes, let's activate Windows over the Internet now.
  3. Click Read the Windows Product Activation Privacy Statement, click Back, and then click Next.
  4. Use one of the following methods:
    • If you want to register and activate Windows at the same time, click Yes, I want to register and activate Windows at the same time, click Read the Windows Registration Privacy Statement, click Back, click Next, type your contact information in the appropriate boxes in the registration form, and then click Next. An asterisk (*) appears next to required information.
    • If you only want to activate Windows, click No, I don't want to register now; let's just activate Windows, and then click Next.
    The wizard establishes a connection with an activation server, and then processes the activation request.
  5. When activation is completed and you receive the following message, click OK:
    You have successfully activated your copy of Windows.

How to Activate Windows XP by Using a Modem

To activate Windows XP by using your modem, follow the steps in this section.

Note The following steps are the same steps that are used to activate Windows over the Internet in the " by using the Internet" section. If you have an Internet connection and you want to activate over a modem, disconnect your Internet connection before you follow these steps.
  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Activate Windows.

    Or, click the Windows Activation icon in the notification area.
  2. Click Yes, let's activate Windows over the Internet now.
  3. Click Read the Windows Product Activation Privacy Statement, click Back, and then click Next.
  4. Use one of the following methods:
    • If you want to register and activate Windows at the same time, click Yes, I want to register and activate Windows at the same time, click Read the Windows Registration Privacy Statement, click Back, click Next, type your contact information in the appropriate boxes in the registration form, and then click Next. An asterisk (*) appears next to required information.
    • If you only want to activate Windows, click No, I don't want to register now; let's just activate Windows, and then click Next.
    The wizard establishes a connection with an activation server, and then processes the activation request.
  5. When activation is completed and you receive the following message, click OK:
    You have successfully activated your copy of Windows.

by phone

To contact a Microsoft customer service representative to activate Windows by phone, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Activate Windows.

    Or, click the Windows Activation icon in the notification area.
  2. Click Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to active Windows now.
  3. Click Read the Windows Product Activation Privacy Statement, click Back, and then click Next.
  4. Follow the steps in the Activate Windows by phone dialog box, and then click Next.

    Note The number appears now and differs based on the location that you select.
  5. When activation is completed and you receive the following message, click OK.
    You have successfully activated your copy of Windows.

Troubleshooting

If you cannot establish an online connection by using your modem or an Internet connection, the wizard prompts you to contact a customer service representative to activate your copy of Windows XP by telephone.



References

For information about how to contact a Microsoft Product Activation Center by phone, visit the following Microsoft Web site: 
How to contact a Microsoft Product Activation Center by phone (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/950929)

For information about Windows Product Activation, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://www.microsoft.com/resources/howtotell/content.aspx?pg=mpa&displaylang=en (http://www.microsoft.com/resources/howtotell/content.aspx?pg=mpa&displaylang=en)
For a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Windows Product Activation, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://www.microsoft.com/resources/howtotell/content.aspx?displaylang=en&pg=faq (http://www.microsoft.com/resources/howtotell/content.aspx?displaylang=en&pg=faq)
For additional information about activating Windows XP, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
306555  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306555/ ) You must activate Windows XP in 30 days from the day that you upgrade from an evaluation to retail version of Windows XP
291983  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/291983/ ) Ports that are used by Windows Product Activation
291997  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/291997/ ) using an Unattend.txt file

Applies to
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Keywords: 
kbhowtomaster kbhowto kbenv kbsetup kbcip kbvideocontent KB307890
Share
Additional support options
Ask The Microsoft Small Business Support Community
Contact Microsoft Small Business Support
Find Microsoft Small Business Support Certified Partner
Find a Microsoft Store For In-Person Small Business Support