Unable to activate copy of windows after upgrading Windows XP

In my previous post Fix STOP: 0x0000007B (OxF8968640, 0xC0000034, 0X00000000, 0x00000000), I described come remedies to that problem. The thing that started the whole thing was the following message.


This copy of Windows must be activated with Microsoft before you can log on. Do you want to activate Windows now?

I had Windows XP Home installed on my Dell Latitude E6500 laptop. I decided to upgrade it to Windows XP Professional. The upgrade completed without any problems. After laptop was rebooted, I had my nice login screen come up with all the user accounts listed. I clicked on my account and I got the above message. Since I have valid user license for Windows XP Professional, I clicked on "Yes" on the dialog box. Nothing happened. Usually a wizard starts that walks you through activation steps. I tried rebooting few times, booted in safe mode, repaired my installation. Nothing worked at all. I thought I could log into safe mode to do activation. Well, it told me that I can not activate copy of windows in safe mode. I tried to reboot with "Safe mode with Networking Support". That did not go very well because operating system refused to do so telling me that I have to activate copy of the windows before I could do so. After digging around and calling my preferential technical support at microsoft, I came to know the following things and fix for the problem.

  • Windows Activation Wizard Depends on Installation of Internet Explorer. So much for not forcing users to have to install IE.
  • Upgrade from Windows XP Home Basic to Windows XP Professional wiped my previous installation of IE8

So from above two issues you can see that I am in catch 22 situation and there was no way that activation wizard was going to come up. So here is the solution to the problem.

  • Goto another machine that has CD/DVD burner
  • Download full installer of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8)
  • Burn IE8 on CD/DVD
  • Now log in into "Safe Mode" on machine with activation problem
  • Insert CD with IE8 installer
  • Install IE8 on the machine
  • Reboot the machine
  • Now when This copy of Windows must be activated with Microsoft before you can log on. Do you want to activate Windows now? message dialog box pops up, click "Yes"
  • This should bring up activation wizard and you should be able to complete your activation of copy of windows and use your machine normally.
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