How to Deactivate Windows XP Pro

By Jason Artman

The standard retail license for Windows XP requires you to activate the operating system after installing it. During the activation process, information about your computer is transmitted to Microsoft's servers, which links that computer to your copy of Windows. If you are selling your computer and want to keep your copy of Windows XP, or if you want to move the Windows XP installation to another computer, you will need to deactivate it on the first computer.

Step 1

Press the Windows logo key and "R" simultaneously. Windows opens a "Run" dialog box. Type "regedit" without quotation marks in the box and press "Enter." The registry editor appears.

Step 2

Navigate through the folders on the left side of the screen to browse to "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE," "Software," "Microsoft," "WindowsNT," "CurrentVersion" and "WPAEvents." Click the "WPAEvents" folder.

Step 3

Right-click "OOBETimer" on the right side of the window, and then click "Modify." A new window appears showing several hexadecimal values. The exact values are unique to each computer. For example, you might see a string such as "D5 FF D5 71 D6 8B 6A."

Step 4

Change any numeral displayed under "Value Data." For example, you might find the value "D5" and change it to "D6," or "8D" to "9D." You may change any numeral you like; the result will be the same. Because this registry key stores the Windows XP activation data, changing it deactivates the operating system.

Step 5

Click "OK" and close the registry editor. Windows is no longer activated.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can also deactivate an existing Windows XP installation by installing Windows XP on a second computer. Unless you own a volume license allowing you to install Windows XP on multiple computers, this deactivates Windows XP on the first computer automatically. You will most likely need to call Microsoft to activate Windows XP on the second computer. Simply explain that you have removed the operating system from the first computer, which the license terms allow.
  • The steps in this article only work for retail boxed editions of Windows XP. Do not perform these steps on an OEM version of Windows XP, such as a copy included with a computer purchased from a manufacturer, the software license is valid for that computer only. Although you can deactivate an OEM version of Windows XP, you will not be able to activate it on another computer.