Microsoft KB Archive/299840

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Article ID: 299840

Article Last Modified on 12/3/2007


  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows Advanced Server, Limited Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q299840


This article describes how to use the Sysprep deployment preparation tool in conjunction with Windows Product Activation or Volume License Media.


Sysprep and Volume Licensing

If you are planning a large deployment of Windows XP, obtain Volume License (VL) media and use Volume Licensing. Activation is not required when you use Volume License media (VL versions of Windows XP) in conjunction with the VL product keys.

Microsoft Volume Licensing customers can enter their unique VL product keys into the unattend answer file. With Sysprep, you enter this key in your Sysprep.inf file under the "UserData" section by using the "ProductKey=" entry, for example:


This enables Windows XP to install successfully.

Note If you use Volume License product keys with VL media, you are only required to enter the VL product key in the "UserData" section by using the ProductKey parameter as shown above. If you use Sysprep you need to edit the unattended answer file (Sysprep.inf).

For additional information about Sysprep and answer file usage, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

216937 Windows 2000 System Preparation Tool and Answer File Usage

Product Activation with Retail Media

Windows Product Activation is designed to work with drive imaging products that are available from third-party manufacturers. You can use the Sysprep utility that is included with Windows XP to reset activation up to three times.

Note The Sysprep.exe utility is located on the Windows XP distribution CD-ROM in the Support\Tools folder in the file.

After Windows XP is imaged and then deployed, Windows Product Activation initiates the activation timer, which resets the installation ID (and enables the full grace period) at first start after the installation of Windows XP is complete on the target computer. Unlike Volume Licensing, unique product keys are required for each of the target computers. However, a manual telephone call is not necessary as long as the target computers have Internet connectivity and the product keys are valid; in that case, the computer activates online automatically.

For additional information about how to use the AutoActivate parameter in an unattended installation, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

291997 How to activate Windows XP using an Unattend.txt file

Note If you have a proxy, use the ActivateProxy entry in conjunction with AutoActivate entry.

Note On the fourth time that you run Sysprep.exe on the same media, you receive the following message:

Your grace period limit has been reached and will not be reset.

Additional query words: WPA

Keywords: kbmsccsearch kbpubtypekc kbinfo kbsetup KB299840