Strange XP product key situation



This isn’t a problem (I assume) but it makes me curious.

I have two Dell Dimensions that came with WinXP Home. The older one came with an SP1 CD and the other an SP2. I reinstalled XP Home on the older PC after reformatting the drive, and thought I’d save some time on updates by installing from the SP2 disk.

When I installed before from the SP1 CD, it asked for the product key (from the label on the PC). But when I installed from the SP2 CD, it never asked for a product key! It acted like a volume license install disk. And the install never asked to be activated.

So I ran the Jellybean utility to see what key Windows installed with and to change it match the key on the side of the PC.

The key was different from either of the two PCs’ labels. And strangely, the utility wouldn’t let me change the key to match the label.

Why would Dell start shipping install disks that didn’t require any key or activation? And since it did, why bother to put a bogus key that’s never used on a label on the side of the PC?

Very strange. And it makes me nervous to know I’m using a PC with the same product key as thousands of others. MS has been known to kill volume license keys that have been abused. All it would take is for some hacker to bypass the code to check for a Dell BIOS and the disk could be used to install unlimited copies of XP on any PC. And didn’t a few Dells ship with Linux? With a copy of this disk, XP could be installed on those PCs for free. Likewise if Dell is doing the same thing with the XP Pro CDs then that’s a free upgrade for any Dell owner who can get a copy.


SLP - Systemvendor locked preactivated (or something).

The embedded key on the CD validates ONLY against an appropriate vendor BIOS - in any other situation, it will need to activate, and would inevitably fail to activate.

The most this could be abused (if a close enough match) would be to update earlier systems from the same vendor, or systems supplied with a different OS. - some info, it MAY be possible to remake a SLP install, if you do not have one, not sure if they are suggesting that slipstreaming an older CD will break the SLP.

Ah, that was the comments, this is the article. SLP is typically used by companies large enough to deal directly with MS… some known OEM SLP’s are: Compaq/HP, NEC/PackardBell, Medion.
Smaller / specialist companies and shop-builds would normally be using generic OEM installs.

One thing, if you change the motherboard, or reflash with a non-Vendor BIOS, you will no longer validate under SLP.

So anyway, if SLP works, go with it, 1000’s of machines are delivered pre-installed that way. Keep the COA key for when you DO make a SLP breaking update.