Windows XP online activation foiled twenty years later

Written by Guillaume
Publication date: {{ dayjs(1685548824*1000).local().format("L").toString()}}
This article is an automatic translation

Microsoft no longer allows you to activate your old Windows XP, but nine years after the publisher shut down its servers, some clever people have come up with a solution.

Given the number of people still using Windows XP, this feat is more an act of bravery than a real public service. However, it's worth noting, given the complexity, if not the impossibility, of implementing it. Indeed, Microsoft has been using an online activation system for its operating system for several versions of Windows. The principle is relatively simple: an activation key is entered by the user at the time of installation - or later today on Windows 10/11 - and the activation process is then set in motion to interrogate dedicated servers at Microsoft and validate said activation. Naturally, if the Internet connection isn't working, or if the servers are down, activation becomes complicated. To do this, Microsoft maintains a telephone activation system... but in both cases, the publisher doesn't do it forever. For Windows XP, up until 2020, it was still possible to use a smartphone application for activation, but this is no longer the case.

In fact, it was the code of this smartphone application that was used on a small offline activation program mentioned by the website. Recently relayed by TechPowerUp, all the information has been available on the aforementioned blog since the end of April and details the design of "xp_activate32.exe", a small tool that activates any Windows XP installation in the "cleanest" way possible, even though it is no longer possible to contact Microsoft for such an operation. If you need Windows XP, the software avoids having to resort to more or less reliable software such as those cracks and other system modifications that you don't know what they really do. How "xp_activate32.exe" works couldn't be simpler: when Windows XP is installed, simply launch it and it will give you a key to enter. Then, after installation, and when Windows XP asks you to activate it, you need to choose the "by phone" method and run "xp_activate32.exe" again to enter the installation ID given by the Windows XP activation wizard. Click on "Next" and that's it!

Over and above the benefits of being able to run Windows XP again without having to go through the activation stage, the solution offered by this little piece of software means that, even 20 years later, it may still be possible to run software despite heavy software protection... which, by the way, has long since been abandoned by the publisher, without any unblocking having been carried out.