, , , , , ,

This is one I’ve come across a few times down the years, but it always takes me a little while to re-google the exact solution, so here it is my own blog for future reference.

A client’s POS server PC had taken a bath, and we hadn’t been able to find the exact same motherboard, so after fitting it, I booted from an XP SP3 CD, and ran the Windows Repair Install process, to ensure new hardware installed correctly, and to reset reg entries regarding licensing tied to the old motherboard.

On first boot, you are met with the standard XP login screen, however when you try to login, you are told you must activate windows first – whether you say or no, you are returned to the login screen, looping to start all over again….

So, what do you do to fix this?

Well it’s quite simple, thankfully

  1. Start your computer in safe mode (use plain safe mode).
  2. Login using an administrator user account. If you could login to the hidden Administrator account, then use that.
  3. Go to Windows Start menu and open RUN. Or you can press on your keyboard the Windows key and letter R.
  4. Type CMD in the run textbox and click on OK. This will open the command prompt window.
  5. Type these commands and press enter. Then click OK on each prompts :
    regsvr32 regwizc.dll
    regsvr32 licdll.dll
  6. Type this last command (type exactly as what you see here):
    rundll32.exe syssetup,SetupOobeBnk
  7. Wait for a couple of minutes because the last command will not show anything on the screen. However, it will reset the licensing components in the background.

You may now restart your computer and you can log-on back to your normal Windows desktop screen.

(credit to Zeb here for his concise instructions).

In my case, the computer was still a little screwy, and after a successful login at least, still would not allow a fresh activation, as the wizard crashed out on every occasion, even when manually ran from the run box using
%systemroot%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a


I subsequently had to:


  1. ensure there was another browser installed
  2. download IE8 from the MS download centre
  3. boot into safe mode
  4. delete the entire Internet Explorer directory
  5. reboot into safe mode
  6. re-install IE8 , along with rollup updates
  7. re-boot, and going through the above process one more time, before logging in again and seeing a correct activation wizard.
  8. Spend an infuriating 15 mins on the phone with Microsoft the activation team….
I’m not going to miss XP.