Mar 01

Windows XP stuck in endless activation/login loop

Category: Linux,Windows   — Published by tengo on March 1, 2010 at 8:10 am

Not everyone is using *nix OS on their computers. Recently, I had a problem with another machine that was stuck in an endless loop of the login screen, completely preventing a proper startup of the machine.

The story was that the machine got a few hardware problems after transport which lead to DRAM replacement and changes in the BIOS config. Booting again afterwards presented a "Three days left to register" message on subsequent boots.

Don't ask why the activation period passed, but after it was over, the machine asked for product activation on every boot. The logon/login screen, the one with the user accounts on it, came up. A click on one of the accounts made a message window pop-up asking if the user wished to activate, Yes or No. Clicking on either one made the computer boot a bit, presenting the Desktop without icons, then the "Welcome"-on-blue screen and - back to the Accounts/Login Screen, starting the cycle over again. Booting into Safe-Mode didn't help either as executing Windows Product Key Update Tool isn't possible in Safe-Mode, basically all Activation activities do not work in Safe-Mode!

Many posts on the net suggest a repair with the Windows Install CD. I even tried deleting the regkey files "wpd.*" in C:WindowsSystem32 - nothing worked. I was close to wiping XP with a fresh install. Then I found these posts post 1 post 2. Both told me that the Activation process was somehow damaged and needed simple repair.

The Solution:
What I did was this:

  • I booted XP into "Safe-Mode without Network drivers". Then did  Start > Run and re-registered some login-related dlls into regserver:
  • regsvr32.exe licwmi.dll <ENTER>
  • regsvr32.exe regwizc.dll <ENTER>
  • regsvr32.exe licdll.dll <ENTER>

Additionally, I don't know if that made a difference (or if skipping this step would fix the problem without the need to re-activate), I set the registry to ask for activation again:

  • Start > Run, type "regedit" <ENTER>
  • Viewed the registry key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWinlogon
  • Added a DWORD value to this key named "Activation Required", and
  • Set the value of this DWORD to 1 (dword:00000001).

After that XP booted again into a state beyond logon and asked me to register. I registered via Phone and tataaa!: Desktop with Icons, everything back to normal.

German translation: Dieser Artikel beschreibt, was die Lösung sein kann, wenn: Windows XP bootet bis zum Login Screen. Wenn man auf einen Benutzer Account klickt wird man darauf hingewiesen, dass Windows neu aktiviert werden muss. Egal ob man Ja oder Nein wählt, der Rechner lädt kurz, zeigt eventuell den Desktop ohne Icons, gefolgt von "Welcome/Willkommen" und kehr dann wieder zurück zum Login Screen ohne den Nutzer ins System zu lassen oder die Aktivierung anzubieten. Man ist effektiv ausgesperrt, in einer Endlosschleife aus Registrierungs-Aufforderungen und Win-Logon. Da eine erneute Aktivierung im Safe-Mode nicht möglich ist, kommt man so auch nicht weiter.