If the word “Pentium” or dreamy photos of rolling green hills ignite a nostalgic fire within you, prepare to be thrilled: Recent developments have ensured that we’ll be able to activate Windows XP forever, without the need for an Internet connection. On Friday, The Register highlighted a new way to successfully activate XP without the use of a keygen, though the “new” part is the strangest part of this story, because it seems like this method has been floating around for months, if not years. without much attention.
For years now, the way to activate a fresh installation of Windows XP has been based on a tool called WindowsXPKg, available on Github. It is a keygen that can generate infinite product keys for XP. But that product key is only enough to get you an installation ID, which you have to enter into Microsoft’s phone activation service to get an installation ID. confirmation id which can be used to finally wake up your damn computer. Phew! That’s a convoluted process, but it’s dead now, too, because the Windows XPKg online service flagged for getting an installation ID is now offline. (And it seems inevitable that Microsoft’s phone line will also go down one day, rendering the entire method completely disabled.)
A blog on Tinyapps.org introduces this whole saga and the “new” solution, much easier. It turns out that a tool posted on Reddit almost a year ago can get the installation ID of your Windows XP installation and generate the corresponding commit ID for you too. No online service or phone activation required. You can avoid Microsoft’s involvement entirely.
The tool, xp_activate32.exe, is only 18kb and has been buried in a short thread on the Windows XP subreddit since last August. I love that the process of easily activating Windows XP in 2023 has come together like a Voltron of arcane internet lore: The poster who shared the file via their Google Drive said they found it via “an old torrent I guess” . How old is this thing in fact been hanging around?
We may never know, but Github user Neo-Desktop is currently working on taking the tool apart and creating an open source version. Assuming that comes to fruition, it should make life easier for anyone who needs to install XP on some old hardware or a virtual machine to play old games that just don’t work well on modern Windows.
As great as Windows’ backwards compatibility is, there are plenty of examples of old games that will just work better on old XP, even if you don’t care about the authenticity to build a beige tower from the early 2000s or whatever. For example, Castlevania the Arcade, a dark light gun-style arcade game that Konami released in 2009. It ran on an XP-based arcade system, and the game files were recently downloaded from Internet Archive. The Video Game Esoterica community has made it work on modern Windows, but currently without sound effects or music. Do you want the complete package? Just run it on XP.
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