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Here's the details. I have an old neighbour whose tower just stopped running (while he was using it). I've done all the typical troubleshooting and cannot pin it down- other than either the board or the CPU (possible overheating NB). You cannot get it to stay powered up long enough to do anything with it. Tried new PSU, swapped RAM, tried a stick of my own known good, have everything unplugged except the monitor, KB, mouse. I did manage to get it going for a few minutes once- but that was it. Even tried clearing CMOS, new battery, etc...

According to a MS KB, a swap of motherboard can be accomplished by a repair install- booting from CD. I happen to have a nice dual-core w/4GB RAM sitting right here. Now, I do not have the original key because the old guy had someone probably keep the sticker (or it was pirated). Meanwhile, I have a new XP Pro I could put on it for him.

Now, you're saying, "why not reinstall clean"? Because, I had just done a tune-up a few months back, it's running perfectly, & he has programs he wants to stay on it that he cannot replace.

So- my question is (& please only reply if you have actually done this before): can I, when it asks for the 25 digit key during the repair, use the new & different (legit) key- or will it balk that it's somehow not the one "inside the registry"?


Cheers! :)

asked Jan 16 '13 at 07:57

geekomatic's gravatar image


During a system repair in Windows XP it will not ask for a license key. If there is some way to run the repair and add a product key the best thing to do would be to not put in any product key and let the install just go through. Then when you get into Windows and it wants a activation key you can put it in. However, in all the times I have run XP repair from the install disk it has never asked me for a key.

answered Jan 16 '13 at 08:27

TheTechDude's gravatar image


Thanks for that. Funnily enough- even though I've reinstalled more systems than I can remember, this particular situation has never come up before.

Interestingly, when I searched for XP repair screenshots, some show the product key screen showing up during the repair, & some do not?

So, I'm asking if anyone on this site has ever had to change a mainboard/CPU + do a repair + insert a new (legit) key, on XP?

(Jan 16 '13 at 22:19) geekomatic geekomatic's gravatar image

Is he running XP Home or Pro, because that will make all the difference as to whether the repair works at all. If he is running Home and you try and repair with Pro Windows doesn't like it and will blue screen. Spent an hour diagnosing why the computer would blue screen on a clients computer, then realized they were running media center edition.... They weren't there to see it so it doesn't matter

(Jan 17 '13 at 08:20) TheTechDude TheTechDude's gravatar image

I have no idea. I can't start the PC & there's no product key sticker, remember? I will venture a guess that if this was a dodgy job, it's probably pro (not many pirated Home versions out there...). I'm going to back up his data via a Linux USB drive tomorrow. Then, I'll be a little more free to experiment. Is there any way at all to retrieve his current key via this method? I'll think not. Most of the keyfinders (besides requiring you run from a booted system) give the wrong key anyway.

(Jan 17 '13 at 09:39) geekomatic geekomatic's gravatar image
(Jan 17 '13 at 09:48) TheTechDude TheTechDude's gravatar image

Change the product key duh

answered Jan 16 '13 at 17:11

Mikeysal12's gravatar image


Not a good answer. Provide some details as to how to do it.

(Jan 16 '13 at 20:13) TheTechDude TheTechDude's gravatar image
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Asked: Jan 16 '13 at 07:57

Seen: 1,850 times

Last updated: Jan 17 '13 at 09:48