Next, go to Activate Windows (Start...Programs...Accessories...Program Tools...Activate Windows). A certain number of days after the first install, you must Activate Windows XP or else it stops working completely. Youll want a modem to Activate Windows online.
Basically, Activate Windows is a way to protect Microsoft from software piracy. When you Activate Windows, your PC logs onto Microsofts website and Microsoft takes a snapshot of your computers hardware. Then, if someone later tries to activate that particular copy of Windows XP on another computer, it wont allow activation, because it wont be able to match up the hardware on that computer with the hardware information that Microsoft has stored in a database.
An interesting question: What if you upgrade your system by adding a new mainboard, a new hard drive, and a new DVD drive? The snapshot Windows has of your old system might think youre trying to install the operating system onto another computer, even though the old components are no longer in use.
One possibility is adding only one part at a time to the old system, for example, the new hard drive. Then, hopefully, Microsoft will recognize that youre just upgrading an existing system. Then, activate Windows. If an activation fails, you can always call Microsoft and explain the situation to them. No promises this will help you!
Be aware that if you retire an older computer and try to do a full installation of Windows XP from the CD onto your new computer, the activation will fail. To me, that seems unfair.
You will need to go through the activation process only if you need to reinstall Windows XP from the CD to a hard drive. Another good option is to back up your full Windows system, using MS backup, to be discussed later.
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How to Build Your Own PC (http://www.PCGuide.com/byop/) on PCGuide.com
Version 1.0 - Version Date: May 4, 2005
Adapted with permission from a work created by Charlie Palmer.
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