Tweaking SETUPP.INI

One problem that tech support guys face – especially third-party types who go to different homes or companies – is that of reinstalling Windows XP on computers with different types of licenses. Some people buy retail copies of Windows XP at Best Buy or Office Depot. Some people get Windows XP preloaded on a computer from Dell or HP. Still others have computers provided for them by their employer, and that employer uses a Volume Licensing copy of XP.

The problem with all these different versions is that the CD keys for each version don’t work with any other version. So a Windows XP retail CD won’t accept an OEM license key. Likewise, an OEM CD won’t accept volume license or retail keys. And a volume license CD won’t accept retail or OEM keys.

So – does this mean that us tech support folks have to buy multiple copies of Windows XP just to reinstall them on their client’s computers? Not at all! You can easily tweak the SETUPP.INI file found on the XP installation CD to do two things: change what type of installation media setup thinks you have, and change what type of key your media will accept.

1) Insert a Windows XP installation CD into your optical drive.

2) Look for the setupp.ini file in the \i386 directory on the disc; copy it to your desktop or some other temporary location.

3) Open the file with Notepad. You’ll see something like this:

ExtraData=707A667567736F696F697911AE7E05
Pid=51882335

4) The second line (“PID=”) is what we’re interested in. Here are the acceptable values for each type of media. The first group of numbers tell setup which type of media you have, and the last three digits tell setup which license keys to accept:

Retail = 51882 335
Volume License = 51883 270
OEM = 82503 OEM

So in the example above, the product ID “51882335″ indicates a retail version that will accept retail license keys. If you change this to “82503OEM” you can change your installation media to an OEM CD that accepts OEM keys. You can even change the media type and license key independently, so “51882OEM” would give you a retail version that accepts OEM keys, while “51883335″ would give you a volume license copy that accepts retail keys. Note that only volume license keys will allow you to skip product activation; if you were to change your media to a volume license edition that accepts retail keys, you will still need to activate the product.

So – what can you do with this information? Well, if you have software that can create and edit ISO images, you can create all types of disc images and burn them to CDs. That way, you can have all three versions ready to go when you arrive at a customer’s home. You can probably create some type of “Super Installation DVD” that has all versions of Windows XP on it, so you only need to bring along one DVD with you. If that’s something that interests you, contact me and let’s see if we can get something going with that. I know how to do such things with DOS, but not XP.

8 thoughts on “Tweaking SETUPP.INI

  1. Rich

    First off, nice article!

    If I start with a windows xp pro VLK image and change it to an oem using your method, will the product still activate with an OEM license key?

    Cheers

    Rich

  2. Jim Post author

    It should, yes.

    For best results, you should always change both the media type and the key it will accept (i.e. change the entire PID string from 51883270 to 82503OEM). Changing just the media type sometimes doesn’t work (trying to use VLK media with OEM keys (51883OEM) , for instance).

    I wouldn’t change them independently unless I had a specific need to do so.

  3. John Gregory

    I have found many references to the type (335, 270, oem) I have not found any other types. I have several Windows XP Profesional cds with the following PID:
    Pid=55276000

    Do you know what type these are?

  4. Jim Post author

    55276000 is an upgrade CD. The name of the CD is WXPCCP_EN, yes?

    I don’t know for sure if changing that to a full version CD would work. I don’t have a copy of the upgrade CD, so I can’t test it in a VM or anything. This page has a list of files that differ between the OEM and Upgrade versions, and it looks like it SHOULD work.

  5. Thomas Glann

    Your a living legend mate. Thank you so much.
    Your going in the special thanks section of my website when i get around to it!!

    Cheers Buddy.

    - Thomas

  6. Sidharth

    Hello Jim
    My name is Sidharth from India. I recently reaad your article on Tweaking SETUPP.INI (http://jimcofer.com/personal/?p=408) on your site. I bought a new HP mini Netbook and want to replace the Windows 7 starter with and older version of windows xp from an old Acre computer i use to have. The problem is the it is a Windows XP Professional Acer Incorporated edition and Acer never provided a windows cd with it.
    Can you please help me crack the setupp.ini file or any other files i need to make for a new install of windows xp.
    I do have a Windows xp retail cd and this genuine windows COA please help me.

    Sidharth

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