Virtualizing Windows XP Professional for Fun and Profit

Today I decided to finish virtualizing my copy of XP, so that I could run all of my XP apps (except my beloved World of Warcraft) under XP, while actually using Ubuntu as my native OS. This eliminates the hassle of having to maintain multiple copies of Windows, freeing up disk space, and improving performance.

But that performance comes with a price…In my case, I was asked to re-activate Windows XP Professional. This did not surprise me, and I fully expected it, as the virtual machine has completely different (virtual) “hardware” than my HP dc5800. It has a different processor, different hard disk drivers, a different amount of memory, etc. What I did not expect were the issues that I’d have while trying to reactivate. First off, I tried to activate Windows over the Internet. This failed. The product key that showed automatically did not work. So I entered the product key from my PC, which was completely different. It is completely different because it is for Windows Vista Business. Recall that I am running Windows XP Professional.

So I tried to re-activate via telephone. That failed. The helpful chap from Microsoft Bali said that I needed to contact Microsoft Customer Service, which I did. They gave me two choices, open a ticket with them (for $249) or contact the manufacturer of my computer. This also did not surprise me, as it’s standard practice for the OEM to support Windows. I called HP and, after some fumbling with their menus, got a person who said I needed to call Microsoft. I refused to do this, and insisted HP help me. After I explained that the machine has XP Pro on it, but that I have a Vista Business sticker, they said that my reseller must have preloaded XP for me, and I needed to contact them. I assured HP that this was not the case, and that I had HP-branded XP on this system, straight from the factory. The lady said she’d call me back.

About an hour later, I got a call back, and the only solution offered was to reinstall the operating system.

That’s going to be a neat trick, seeing how I don’t have a key for Windows XP. Furthermore, I don’t even know if my HP recovery discs are contain XP or Vista. I made them myself a few weeks back, but I forget what’s what. Regardless, it’s clear that I still cannot install Windows XP without a valid product key.

So I called HP back again and, after some time on hold with them, again recapping the story from the top, I was transferred to HP notebook support (despite my clearly identifying my machine repeatedly as an HP Business Desktop). After some time, they transferred me to HP Business Desktop support. I was placed on hold… and then disconnected.

I placed my third call to HP tech support, and after re-re-recapping the issues again, from the top, was informed that the only fix is to reinstall the operating system again from the recovery CDs that I was provided.

This is the kind of thing that makes people turn to software piracy. People like me. Despite being hold here that Customer Service can activate my product for me, I ended up using another HP OEM Windows XP Professional product key to activate this thing.