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You are prompted to activate Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 every time that you start the computer

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Support for Windows Server 2003 ended on July 14, 2015

Microsoft ended support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

This article was previously published under Q312295
Summary
This article contains information to help you resolve a Windows product activation problem. You may be prompted to activate Windows every time that you start the computer. You experience this problem even if you have already activated Windows. This article describes how to remove a script that may interfere with Windows activation. To do this, you must start the computer in safe mode, modify the Windows registry, and then restore the Windows product activation file. Then, you can reactivate Windows. After you follow these steps, you are no longer prompted to activate Windows when you start the computer.
This article is intended for a beginning to intermediate computer user.

You may find it easier to follow the steps if you print this article first.
Symptoms of the problem
Every time that you start the computer, you receive a message that prompts you to activate Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Windows Server 2003. You experience this issue even if you have already successfully activated Windows.
Cause of the problem
This problem occurs because a script that interferes with Windows activation is running on the computer.
Steps to resolve the problem
Remove the script that interferes with Windows activation. Then, reactivate Windows. To do this, use one of the following methods.
ACW

Method 1: Guided Help to remove the script that interferes with Windows activation

Guided Help is available to remove the script that interferes with Windows activation. Guided Help can automatically perform the steps for you.

The actions that this Guided Help performs cannot be undone after Guided Help is finished.

Requirements to install and to use this Guided Help

  • You must be logged on to Windows by using a computer administrator account to install and to use this Guided Help.
  • You must be running Windows Server 2003, Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center Edition, or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition to install and to use this Guided Help.
You must first download Guided Help. To start, click the following link: Download Guided Help

Method 2: Manually remove the script that interferes with Windows activation

Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

Before you start

To complete these steps, you must have the following:
  • The Windows XP CD. Or, access to a folder that contains the files from the i386 folder on the Windows XP CD.
  • An account that has administrator rights and permissions.

Step 1: Start the computer in safe mode

  1. Start the computer.
  2. After the computer runs the Power On Self Test (POST), press F8 repeatedly to open the Windows Advanced Options menu.
  3. On the Windows Advanced Options menu, use the arrow keys to select Safe Mode, and then press ENTER.
  4. Use the arrow keys to select the Windows operating system that you want to start, and then press ENTER.
  5. When the computer is running in safe mode, log on by using an account that has administrator rights and permissions. Then, click Yes in the message that states that Windows is running in safe mode.

Step 2: Start Registry Editor

Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.

Step 3: Remove the RESETS registry subkey

  1. In Registry Editor, expand My Computer, and then expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.
  2. Expand SOFTWARE, and then expand Microsoft.
  3. Expand Windows NT, and then expand CurrentVersion.
  4. Expand Winlogon, and then expand Notify.
  5. Under Notify, right-click RESETS, and then click Delete.
  6. Click Yes to confirm the removal of the RESETS subkey.

    NoteDo not exit Registry Editor. You must use Registry Editor in "Step 4: Modify the registry to deactivate Windows."

Step 4: Modify the registry to deactivate Windows

  1. In Registry Editor, expand My Computer, and then expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.
  2. Expand SOFTWARE, and then expand Microsoft.
  3. Expand Windows NT, and then expand CurrentVersion.
  4. Under CurrentVersion, click WPAEvents.
  5. In the right pane (topic area) of Registry Editor, right-click OOBETimer, and then click Modify.
  6. Click to put the pointer in the Value data box. Then, modify any character that appears in the Value data box.
  7. Click OK.

    NoteThis step deactivates Windows.
  8. Exit Registry Editor.

Step 5: Rename the corrupted Windows activation file

  1. Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then click OK.
  2. At the command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    ren %windir%\system32\WPA.dbl wpa.old
    This command renames the WPA.dbl file to WPA.old.

Step 6: Determine the CD or DVD drive letter

  1. Insert the Windows CD.
  2. Click Start, and then click My Computer.
  3. Note the CD drive letter or the DVD drive letter that appears under Drives with Removable Storage. You have to use this drive letter in the next step.

Step 7: Replace the corrupted Windows activation file

  1. Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then click OK.
  2. At the command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    expand drive:\i386\wpa.db_ %windir%\system32\wpa.dbl
    In this command, replace drivewith the letter of the drive that contains the Windows CD.

    For example, if the Windows CD is located in drive D, the command appears as follows:
    expand d:\i386\wpa.db_ %windir%\system32\wpa.dbl
    This command extracts a copy of the Wpa.dbl file from the Windows CD. Then, it puts this file in the System32 folder of the Windows installation.
  3. Examine the output that appears at the command prompt. If the command runs successfully, information that resembles the following appears:
    Microsoft (R) File Expansion Utility Version 5.1.2600.0 Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp 1990-1999. All rights reserved. Expanding d:\i386\wpa.db_ to c:\windows\system32\wpa.dbl. d:\i386\wpa.db_: 2222 bytes expanded to 2126 bytes, -5% increase.
  4. Type exit, and then press ENTER to exit the command prompt.

Step 8: Remove the files that are associated with the script

  1. Click Start, and then click Search.
  2. Under What do you want to search for, click All files and folders.
  3. In the All or part of the file name box, type the following, and then click Search:
    reset5.exe; reset5.dll; reset5.dat; reset5.dt*; srvany.exe
    This action performs a search for all the following files:
    • Reset5.exe
    • Reset5.dll
    • Reset5.dat
    • Reset5.dt*
    • Srvany.exe
    NoteIf you use a different search tool such as Windows Desktop Search, use this tool to search for each of these individual files.
  4. In the results pane of the Search Results dialog box, right-click each file, and then click Delete.
  5. Click Yes to confirm the removal of the file.
  6. When you have finished removing these files, exit the Search Results dialog box.
  7. Restart the computer and let Windows restart in normal mode.

Step 9: Reactivate Windows

  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Activate Windows.
  2. If the Windows Product Activation Wizard prompts you to activate Windows, follow the instructions in the wizard to activate Windows.
  3. Restart the computer, and then repeat step 1 of "Step 9: Reactivate Windows" to start the Windows Product Activation Wizard again. You take this step to verify that the wizard does not prompt you to activate Windows again.
  4. If the Windows Product Activation Wizard displays a "Windows is already activated" message, click OK to exit the wizard.
More information
For more information about product activation, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
302806Description of Microsoft Product Activation
For more information about Windows Product Activation, visit the following Microsoft Web sites:
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Article ID: 312295 - Last Review: 05/22/2013 15:28:00 - Revision: 7.0

Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition for Itanium-based Systems, Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Professional

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